Russian Geographical Society expedition to study New Siberian Islands
© Yaroslav Nikitin

Russian Geographical Society expedition to study New Siberian Islands

A comprehensive Russian Geographical Society expedition will be used to study the New Siberian Islands Archipelago in 2017, the SakhaNews information agency reported. Called "New Siberian Islands, a Russian Arctic Outpost: Polar Expeditions of Trailblazers, Scientists and Hunters," the expedition is a flagship project of the Russian Geographical Society's Yakutia regional division.

"The Society's regional board of trustees and the Head of Yakutia all support the idea. So, we are planning a comprehensive expedition to the New Siberian Islands. The grave of a man in a military uniform was found on the islands, and we would like to identify when he died," executive director of the division Dmitry Solovyov told the TASS news agency.

Last fall, Yakutia's Academy of Sciences received information about an unmarked Kotelny Island grave. The grave may contain the remains of a member of Eduard Toll's geological expedition that went missing in 1902. The expedition's base was in Nerpalakh Bay on the island's western coast.

Experts stopped studying the archipelago in the 1950s. Today, archeologists, permafrost experts and environmentalists all want to study the islands. "Hydrological, hydro-chemical, hydro-biological and geology research can be conducted on the islands to obtain new data on animal and plant life and permafrost layers, and evaluate the archipelago's geological history," Solovyov explained.

The multistage expedition's members are to study Kotelny and Bolshoi Lyakhovsky Islands throughout 2017. The islands of Kotelny and Novaya Sibir, as well as the island of Benetta, are to be studied in 2018. In 2019, studies of the islands of Kotelny, Bolshoi Lyakhovsky and Novaya Sibir will continue, and research will also be conducted on Fadeyevsky Island.

Expedition members will also collect evidence that indicate that Cossacks and coastal indigenous ethnic groups might have visited the archipelago at earlier dates. Members of the new expedition will also build monuments to trailblazers and explorers who visited the archipelago before the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and during the Soviet period.