Coal Mine Island - Franz Josef Land


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General, landscape: The small Coal Mine Island is basically a singular rocky mountain, partly covered with iceage moraine material, peeking out of the middle of the narrow Booth Channel between Ziegler Island to the west and Greely Island to the east. Its approximately 10 km² are non-glaciated, but barren with hardly any vegetation except of under the small bird colonies. Like in several other places of Franz Josef Land, a minor coal seam exists between the rock sediment layers.

Biology/wildlife: Vegetation on the island is very sparse, except of some southern slopes under bird breeding rocks, where even some small hanging moors can be seen. Also birdlife is quite restricted, with some minor breeding colonies of alle alle, cepphus grylle and rissa tridactyla on the southern side of the island.
According to old expedition reports, the area of southern Booth Channel should be rich in walrus, which does not seem to be the case that much, anymore.

History: Possibly, Coal Mine Island was first sighted from some 30 kilometres distance already by the sledge tour to the north from the TEGETTHOFF, led by Payer in spring 1874, through the narrow southern opening of the Booth Channel. However, it was not recognized as an island of its own, with Payer interpreting most of the land to the west of his route as the coastal regions of a single huge landmass of unknown extension, which he called "Zichy Land". Therefore, Coal Mine Island was discovered and mapped only by the Baldwin Ziegler expedition of 1901/02, naming it after the local minor coal deposits, though a proper mine has never existed here.
Since then, it has been hardly visited. From 1994, a brief visit of some hours is known by an austrian scientific expedition.


At least two layers of harder volcanic dolerite, separated by less resistant sediments, are the reason for the shape of the mountain and some of its interesting rock formations.
Some small bird colonies further up, together with the southern orientation of the slopes under them, seem to be sufficient for supporting a local fairly productive moss tundra vegetation in these slopes, including some small hanging moors.
View along the west side of the island onto Cape Washington (Ziegler Island), further back the area around Cape Tyrol (Wiener-Neustadt-Island).
View along the west side of Coal Mine Island onto a glacier on neighbouring Ziegler Island.

Images Coal Mine Island

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Coal Mine Island from south

Last Modification: 16.09.2012