Structures on Wrangel Island are believed to represent the western continuation of the Brooks Range fold and thrust belt of northern Alaska. With renewed explorationof Alaska’s Chukchi Shelf, Wrangel Island represents a unique exposure to test the continuity of structures, lithologies and facies from Alaska to Russia across offshore regions. No significant new data have been published for Wrangel Island since the thorough study by Kos’ko et al. (1993, GSC. Bull. 461).
We visited the island in 2006 with the logistic support of the director and scientific staff of Wrangel Wildlife Preserve. The trip involved four weeks of waiting for weather clearance for helicopter flights and three weeks of fieldwork, compromised at times by logistics and weather. We carried out geologic mapping, structural measurements and sampled extensively for paleontology, geochronology and thermochronology. Supported by American Chemical Society, PRF # 45432-AC8.
This image, courtesy of NASA shows Arctic Ice at its maximum measured retreat in September of 2007. Wrangel Island is the small island near Alaska labelled "W". To get to Wrangel, I flew from California to Moscow, then all the way across Russia to an Arctic coastal town of Pevek, where we waited for 17 days for weather and logistic clearance for a helicopter trip to Wrangel. Wrangel Island is a Russian Wildlife Preserve known for its large concentration of polar bear dens, walrus in the fall, muskox and caribou herds, in addition to snow owls, snow geese and a variety of other wildlife.
The image below (also courtesy of NASA http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov) shows Wrangel Island on a sunny day August 18, 2008. Wrangel lies about 140 miles N of the Arctic coast of NE Russia and is about 150 km across and 125 km N-S, with an area of about 7600 km2. The dark rocks on the south side of the Island are Triassic turbidites, the whitish stripes are Paleozoic carbonates. The structure of the island is basically an anticline, with Precambrian basement rocks exposed in the middle of the island. To the east of Wrangel, along the edge of a bank of clouds, lies a much smaller landmass: Herald Island. The swirls are cloud eddies caused by the island's obstruction of air flow according to NASA.
Above and below: Views up the Kishchnikov River drainage, Wrangel Island
Above: Thin section photomicrographs of deformed Devonian-Mississippian sandstones from Wrangel Island, showing mylonitic textures developed in quartz and new growth of chlorite, white mica and biotite during deformation.
Elizabeth Miller and Vicky Pease at scientist's headquarters, Wrangel Island.
Below: Triassic turbidites on Wrangel with polar bear for scale
Collection of muskox skulls outside scientists cabin, Somitelnaya, Wrangel Island, 2006