Mostly flat and low Hayes Island (maximal extension: ca. 14 km, area: 132 km²) is situated in the interior of Franz-Josef-Land at the junction of Markham Sound and Austria Channel. Its center is topped by a small ice cap (max. 240 m above sea level), around which the lowlands extend to the shores especially in western, southern and eastern direction. Strange lines of old eroded vulcanic rock structures rise from their flat surroundings. On the northeastern tip of the island, there is a shallow old crater filled with fresh water, with many of the buildings of the old Krenkel Station lined up on its low rim.
Close to it, one of the 3 geological exploration drillings in the archipelago was brought down in the 1970s (see also Alexandra Land).
Large ice-free areas of the island are covered by a not abundant but varied high arctic tundra. Spread over Hayes Island, ivory gulls, geese, purple sandpipers, skuas and a number of pairs of ivory gulls are breeding.
On some of the southern shores, some walrusses have a rest frequently.
Discovered and named by the TEGETTHOFF expedition in 1874.
Until the preparations for the 3rd International Geophysical Year 1957/58, Hayes Island played no sprcial role in the history of the archipelago. On this occasion, however, a new main research base was installed: Krenkel Station (see further down), replacing the former station in Tichaya Bay on Hooker Island. Due to the varied scientific activities connected to the station, Hayes Island is probably the most intensively investigated place of Franz Josef Land, though much of the results is difficult to access, certainly from outside Russia. Another more bizarre consequence for Hayes Island are the crashed research rocket parts sticking out of the ground in many places.
Names: Hayes Island was named in 1874 after the american polar explorer Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes. Transscription into Russian kyrillic alphabet and later literal retransscription to latin writing without knowledge of the original latin name spelling leads to partly bizarre varieties of the island name on some maps and in some publications: Kheysa, Chejsa, Heiss. I doubt that the TEGETTHOFF pioneers or Hayes himself would recognize the name again in these cases. See also: Name confusion.
The name of the station honours the famous russian radio operator, polar pioneer and geographer Ernst Krenkel (1903-1971. German name due to german ancestry).
Krenkel Station: The first permanent research station in the archipelago, Tikhaya (see Hooker Island), had two disadvantages: an untypically mild climate reduced the value of weather data acquired there, and the surroundings were poorly suited for an airstrip. In connection with the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, a new station was therefore set up on the easternmost end of Hayes Island, supplemented with a gravel runway that can be used all year round and for which the fairly flat and low island was highly suitable. It was named in 1972 after the Russian radio operator and polar pioneer Ernst Krenkel. Most of the buildings are lined up along the rim of the water-filled crater.
In its best days, the station accomodated seasonally up to 200 researchers and other staff, including rare incidents of even western guest scientists or technicians. It included a launch pad for atmospheric research rockets. This former high level of activity is still easy to see by the extension of the station with numerous buildings and installations, but also aircraft wreckages and until 2010 enormous heaps of fuel barrels. In an impressive clean-up action, much of this hazardous heritage of the soviet past has been removed, with some of this work to be continued.
Krenkel was sharply reduced in staff by in 2000 and after a fire destroying also the power station, it was closed in 2001 as the last still operational civil station in the archipelago.
See also Travel
During the 1990s, the old Krenkel Station was regularly visited by tourist groups during summers.
Since about 2000, however, permissions for visits of both the station and all of Hayes Island were hardly ever granted anymore - allegedly to avoid publicity for the serious environmental damages there from the soviet period. As the removal of these sins of the past is well on its way now, one can hope for better possibilities for visits of Hayes Island and the station in future.
Possible, though, also during the last years, were close approaches without going ashore, which was made use of by a few cruises to look out for walrusses on some beaches in the south of the island by zodiac from the sea.
A new and much smaller modern station made of prefabricated modules with a total area of 240 m² was set up between the old buildings from 2004 onwards and is operational all-year round with a small team of about 5 persons since October 30th 2004. The opportunity of its installation was used to remove at least a part of the masses of metal garbage from Soviet times to the mainland. A more thorough clean-up project has started during the last years, resulting in the removal of much of the hazardous remains of decades at least above the surface. Also because of the not finished clean-up of old sins in the area, permissions for visiting Krenkel and Hayes have been often denied during the last years.
Picture gallery Krenkel Station
(Click on pictures leads to bigger versions)
Krenkel Station is situated on the easternmost peninsula of Hayes Island.
The large old station stretches mainly around the old meteorite crater.
Its buildings are decaying.
Between the buildings of the old base, the new Krenkel Station has been set up.
In an impressive clean-up project, masses of waste from the days of the old base have been removed recently, especially in 2012, mainly thousands of fuel and lubricant barrels (seen on the old pictures here), partly empty, partly leaking, and brought to the mainland for further treatment.