Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Forewarned is forearmed

Seismic station installed on Novaya Zemlya archipelago to study polar earthquakes for the first time

3 august 2022

03.08.2022 // Yuzhny Island now hosts the Arctic archipelago's first stationary seismic station for scientific research. Its data have already challenged the notion that there are no earthquakes in the Kara Sea. Registering and studying them will help ensure the safe transport of hydrocarbons extracted from the Arctic shelf.

A new seismic observation point has been established at the site of Sevgidromet's Malye Karmakuly aerological station. The station was installed by scientists from the N. Laverov Federal Center for Integrated Arctic Research of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FECIAR), together with colleagues from the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Staff from the N. Laverov Center's seismology laboratory spent a week on the island to set up the equipment and data transfer. This difficult task was successfully solved, as was an equally difficult logistical one: the Mikhail Somov scientific expedition vessel delivered the scientists to Novaya Zemlya archipelago on time and returned them on time.

The arrival of the first permanent station on the Arctic archipelago has seriously expanded the capabilities of the Arkhangelsk seismic network, a unique scientific installation of the N. Laverov Federal Center. Previously, single earthquakes in the Arctic were only recorded from stations set up on Severnaya Zemlya, Dikson and Franz Josef Land. Scientists greatly missed the seismological station on the other side of the Kara Sea. The data received was insufficient for serious research.

'Low-magnitude earthquakes, which were registered by a maximum of two stations, did not allow us to locate them accurately, so we could not enter this information into the seismic catalogue, that is, this information was not available,' said Galina Antonovskaya, head of the seismology laboratory at FECIAR.

The lack of data has led to the Kara Sea being regarded as an aseismic area, where earthquakes do not occur at all. Now there is every reason to argue that this is not the case. Moreover, it has been established that the most seismically active zone is nearby, in the Barents Sea, in the area of the Spitsbergen archipelago, where installed equipment has already detected several earthquakes. Some of them are not listed in the catalogues of the RAS Unified Geophysical Survey, which confirms the importance of opening a new seismic station. Immediately after installation, the data began to arrive on the server of the seismology laboratory at FECIAR in Arkhangelsk.

As the route of the North Sea Route runs through the Barents and Kara Seas, it is necessary to examine whether these earthquakes could pose a risk to shipping. Novaya Zemlya, located just in the middle of this region, is a great place to observe.

A stationary station on the Arctic archipelago will also make it possible to record weak earthquakes occurring on the Arctic shelf much more accurately. Understanding the nature of offshore seismicity is important for the safe production and transport of hydrocarbons beyond the Arctic Circle. And in the future, when it comes to laying underwater pipelines, the data collected by scientists will help select the least earthquake-prone areas.

Photo: Press Service of FECIAR UrB RAS


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