JAN MAYEN is a Norwegian volcanic island situated in the North Arctic
Ocean . It is 55 km (34 mi) long (southwest-northeast) and 373 km2
(144 sq mi) in area, partly covered by glaciers (an area of 114.2 km
(71.0 mi) around the
Beerenberg volcano ). It has two parts: larger
northeast Nord-Jan and smaller Sør-Jan, linked by a 2.5 km (1.6 mi)
wide isthmus . It lies 600 km (370 mi) northeast of
Iceland (495 km
(305 mi) NE of
Kolbeinsey ), 500 km (310 mi) east of central Greenland
and 1,000 km (620 mi) west of the North Cape,
Norway . The island is
mountainous, the highest summit being the
Beerenberg volcano in the
north. The isthmus is the location of the two largest lakes of the
Sørlaguna (South Lagoon), and
Nordlaguna (North Lagoon). A
third lake is called Ullerenglaguna (Ullereng Lagoon).
Jan Mayen was
formed by the
Jan Mayen hotspot .
Although administered separately,
Svalbard and Jan Mayen are
collectively assigned the
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code "SJ".
* 1 Natural resources
* 2 Status
* 3 Society
* 3.1 Transport
* 3.2 Communication
* 4 History
* 4.1 Unverified "discoveries" of a terra nullius
Jan Mayen during the Golden Age of Dutch exploration and
* 4.2.1 First verified discoveries: mapping and naming
* 4.2.2 Dutch whaling base
* 4.3 19th and 20th centuries
* 5 Environment
* 5.1 Nature reserve
* 5.2 Geography and geology
Important Bird Area
* 5.4 Climate
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Bibliography
* 9 External links
Von Kármán vortex street created by
Beerenberg volcano in the
Jan Mayen Island has one exploitable natural resource, gravel , from
the site at Trongskaret. Other than this, economic activity is limited
to providing services for employees of
Norway 's radio communications
and meteorological stations located on the island.
Jan Mayen has one
unpaved airstrip ,
Jan Mayensfield , which is about 1,585 m (5,200 ft)
long. The 124.1 km (77.1 mi) coast has no ports or harbours , only
There are important fishing resources, and the existence of Jan Mayen
establishes a large
Exclusive Economic Zone
Exclusive Economic Zone around it. A dispute
Denmark regarding the fishing exclusion zone
Jan Mayen and
Greenland was settled in 1988 granting Denmark
the greater area of sovereignty. Significant deposits of petroleum and
natural gas are suspected by geologists to lie below Jan Mayen's
surrounding seafloors .
Beerenberg beyond coastal hills
Jan Mayen Island is an integral part of the Kingdom of
Norway . Since
Jan Mayen has been administered by the County Governor
(fylkesmann) of the northern Norwegian county of
Nordland to which it
is closest. However, some authority over
Jan Mayen has been assigned
to the station commander of the Norwegian Defence Logistics
Organisation, a branch of the
Norwegian Armed Forces .
Olonkinbyen in August
The only inhabitants on the island are personnel working for the
Norwegian Armed Forces and the Norwegian
Meteorological Institute .
Eighteen people spend the winter on the island, but the population may
double (35) during the summer, when heavy maintenance is performed.
Personnel serve either six months or one year, and are exchanged twice
a year in April and October. The main purpose of the military
personnel is to operate a
Loran-C base . The support crew, including
mechanics, cooks, and a nurse, are among the military personnel. Both
the LORAN transmitter and the meteorological station are located a few
kilometres away from the settlement
Olonkinbyen (Olonkin City), where
all personnel live.
Transport to the island is provided by
C-130 Hercules military
transport planes operated by the
Royal Norwegian Air Force that land
Jan Mayensfield 's gravel runway. The planes fly in from
Air Station eight times a year. Since the airport does not have any
instrument landing capabilities, good visibility is required, and it
is not uncommon for the planes to have to return to
Bodø , two hours
away, without landing. For heavy goods, freight ships visit during the
summer, but since there are no harbours, the ships must anchor.
The island has no indigenous population, but is assigned the ISO
3166-1 alpha-2 country code SJ (together with
Svalbard ). It uses the
Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD )
.sj is allocated
but not used) and data code JN.
Jan Mayen has telephone and internet
connection over satellite, using Norwegian telephone numbers (country
code 47). Its amateur radio call sign prefix is JX. It has a postal
code, NO-8099 JAN MAYEN, but delivery time varies, especially during
UNVERIFIED "DISCOVERIES" OF A TERRA NULLIUS
A beach on
Between the fifth and ninth centuries, numerous communities of monks
originating in west Ireland navigated throughout the north Atlantic in
leather boats, exploring and sometimes settling in distant islands
where their monastic communities could be separated from close contact
with others. Strong indicators exist of their presence in the Faroe
Iceland before the arrival of the Vikings , and medieval
chronicles such as the famous "Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot "
testify to the extensive interest in exploration at the time. A
modern-day trans-Atlantic journey proved the ability of the early
navigators to reach all lands of the north Atlantic even farther from
Ireland than Jan Mayen—and, given favorable winds, at a speed
roughly equal to that of modern yachts. Though quite feasible, there
is nevertheless no direct physical trace of medieval landings or
settlement on Jan Mayen.
The land named Svalbarð ("cold coast") by the Vikings in the early
Landnámabók may have been
Jan Mayen (instead of
Spitsbergen , renamed
Svalbard by the Norwegians in modern times); the
Iceland to Svalbarð mentioned in this book is two days'
sailing (with favorable winds), consistent with the approximate 550 km
(340 mi) to
Jan Mayen and not with the minimum 1,550 km (960 mi) to
Spitsbergen. However much
Jan Mayen may have been known in Europe at
that time, it was subsequently forgotten for some centuries.
In the 17th century, many claims of the island's rediscovery were
made, spurred by the rivalry on the Arctic whaling grounds, and the
island received many names. According to
Thomas Edge , an early
17th-century whaling captain who was often inaccurate, "William
Hudson " discovered the island in 1608 and named it "Hudson's Touches"
(or "Tutches"). However,
Henry Hudson could only have come by on his
voyage in 1607 (if he had made an illogical detour) and he made no
mention of it in his journal. Douglas Hunter, in Half Moon (2009),
believes Hudson may not have mentioned his supposed discovery of the
island because he was "loath to address a crew insurrection that might
well have erupted at that time, when the men realized where he was
trying to take them." This is, however, merely speculation on Hunter's
part. There is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim.
William Scoresby (1820: p. 154), referring to the
mistaken belief that the Dutch had discovered the island in 1611, Hull
whalers discovered the island "about the same time" and named it
"Trinity Island". Muller (1874: pp. 190–191) took this to mean they
had come upon
Jan Mayen in 1611 or 1612, which was repeated by many
subsequent authors. There were, in fact, no Hull whalers in either of
these years, the first Hull whaling expedition having been sent to the
island only in 1616 (see below). As with the previous claim made by
Edge, there is no cartographical or written proof for this supposed
JAN MAYEN DURING THE GOLDEN AGE OF DUTCH EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY
Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery (
Age of Exploration
Age of Exploration ), the Dutch were
the first (non-natives) to undisputedly explore and map many unknown
isolated areas of the world, including
Jan Mayen and the Svalbard
archipelago in the
Arctic Ocean .
First Verified Discoveries: Mapping And Naming
A map of
Jan Mayen during the Golden Age of Dutch exploration
and discovery (ca. 1590s–1720s). This is a typical map created by
Dutch cartographers from the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography .
The first verified discoveries of Jan Mayen, by three separate
expeditions, occurred in the summer of 1614, probably within one month
of each other. The Dutchman Fopp Gerritsz, whilst in command of a
whaling expedition sent out by the Englishman John Clarke, of Dunkirk
, claimed (in 1631) to have discovered the island on June 28 and named
it "Isabella". In January the
Noordsche Compagnie (Northern
Company), modelled on the
Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company , had been
established to support Dutch whaling in the Arctic. Two of its ships,
financed by merchants from
Enkhuizen , reached Jan Mayen
in July 1614. The captains of these ships—Jan Jacobszoon May van
Schellinkhout on the Gouden Cath (Golden Cat), and Jacob de Gouwenaer
on the Orangienboom (Orange Tree)—named it Mr. Joris Eylant after
the Dutch cartographer
Joris Carolus who was on board and mapped the
island. The captains acknowledged that a third Dutch ship, the Cleyn
Swaentgen (Little Swan) captained by Jan Jansz Kerckhoff and financed
Noordsche Compagnie shareholders from
Delft , had already been at
the island when they arrived. They had assumed the latter, who named
the island Maurits Eylandt (or Mauritius) after Maurice of Nassau,
Prince of Orange , would report their discovery to the States General
. However, the
Delft merchants had decided to keep the discovery
secret and returned in 1615 to hunt for their own profit. The ensuing
dispute was only settled in 1617, though both companies were allowed
to whale at
Jan Mayen in the meantime.
Robert Fotherby went ashore. Apparently thinking he had made
a new discovery, he named the island "Sir Thomas Smith's Island" and
the volcano "Mount Hakluyt". On a map of c. 1634, Jean Vrolicq
renamed the island Île de Richelieu.
Jan Mayen first appeared on
Willem Jansz Blaeu 's 1620 edition map of
Europe, originally published by Cornelis Doedz in 1606. Blaeu, who
lived in Amsterdam, named it "Jan Mayen" after captain Jan Jacobszoon
May of the Amsterdam-financed Gouden Cath. Blaeu made the first
detailed map of the island in his famous "Zeespiegel" atlas of 1623,
establishing its current name.
Dutch Whaling Base
Road along the westcoast, about 500 m off the station.
From 1615 to 1638,
Jan Mayen was used as a whaling base by the Dutch
Noordsche Compagnie, which had been given a monopoly on whaling in the
Arctic regions by the States General in 1614. Only two ships, one from
the Noordsche Compagnie, and the other from the
Delft merchants, were
Jan Mayen in 1615. The following year a score of vessels were sent
to the island. The
Noordsche Compagnie sent eight ships escorted by
three warships under Jan Jacobsz. Schrobop; while the
sent up five ships under Adriaen Dircksz. Leversteyn, son of one of
the above merchants. There were also two ships from
Dunkirk sent by
John Clarke, as well as a ship each from London and Hull.
Heertje Jansz, master of the Hope, of Enkhuizen, wrote a day-by-day
account of the season. The ships took two weeks to reach Jan Mayen,
arriving early in June. On 15 June they met the two English ships,
which Schrobop allowed to remain, on condition they gave half their
catch to the Dutch. The ships from
Dunkirk were given the same
conditions. By late July the first ship had left with a full cargo of
whale oil ; the rest left early in August, several filled with oil.
That year 200 men were seasonally living and working on the island at
six temporary whaling stations (spread along the northwest coast).
During the first decade of whaling more than ten ships visited Jan
Mayen each year, while in the second period (1624 and later) five to
ten ships were sent. With the exception of a few ships from Dunkirk,
which came to the island in 1617 and were either driven away or forced
to give a third of their catch to the Dutch, only the Dutch and
merchants from Hull sent up ships to
Jan Mayen from 1616 onward. In
1624 ten wooden houses were built in South Bay . About this time the
Dutch appear to have abandoned the temporary stations consisting of
tents of sail and crude furnaces, replacing them with two
semi-permanent stations with wooden storehouses and dwellings and
large brick furnaces, one in the above-mentioned South Bay and the
other in the North Bay . In 1628 two forts were built to protect the
stations. Among the sailors active at
Jan Mayen was the later admiral
Michiel Adriaensz de Ruyter . In 1633, at the age of 26, he was for
the first time listed as an officer aboard de Groene Leeuw (The Green
Lion). He again went to
Jan Mayen in 1635, aboard the same ship.
Old cross on the grave of seven Dutchmen, reading "Here rest brave
In 1632 the
Noordsche Compagnie expelled the Danish-employed Basque
whalers from Spitsbergen. In revenge, the latter sailed to Jan Mayen,
where the Dutch had left for the winter, to plunder the Dutch
equipment and burn down the settlements and factories. Captain Outger
Grootebroek was asked to stay the next winter (1633/34) on
Jan Mayen with six shipmates to defend the island. While a group with
the same task survived the winter on Spitsbergen, all seven on Jan
Mayen died of scurvy or trichinosis (from eating raw polar bear meat)
combined with the harsh conditions.
During the first phase of whaling the hauls were generally good, some
exceptional. For example, Mathijs Jansz. Hoepstock caught 44 whales in
Hoepstockbukta in 1619, which produced 2,300 casks of whale oil.
During the second phase the hauls were much lower. While 1631 turned
out to be a very good season, the following year, due to the weather
and ice, only eight whales were caught. In 1633 eleven ships managed
to catch just 47 whales; while a meager 42 were caught by the same
number in 1635. The bowhead whale was locally hunted to
near-extinction around 1640 (approximately 1000 had been killed and
processed on the island), at which time
Jan Mayen was abandoned and
stayed uninhabited for two and a half centuries.
19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES
Location of the stations on
International Polar Year 1882-1883 the Austro-Hungarian
North Pole Expedition stayed one year at Jan Mayen. The expedition
performed extensive mapping of the area, their maps being of such
quality that they were used until the 1950s. The Austrian polar
Jan Mayen Island was built and equipped in 1882 fully at
Count Wilczek\'s own expense.
Polar bears appear on Jan Mayen, although in diminished numbers
compared with earlier times. Between 1900 and 1920, there were a
number of Norwegian trappers spending winters on Jan Mayen, hunting
Arctic foxes in addition to some polar bears. But the exploitation
soon made the profits decline, and the hunting ended. Polar bears are
genetically distinguishable in this region of the Arctic from those
League of Nations
League of Nations gave
Norway jurisdiction over the island, and
Norway opened the first meteorological station. The Norwegian
Meteorological Institute annexed the island for
Norway in 1922 and the
whole island in 1926 when Hallvard Devold was head of the weather
observations base on the island. On 27 February 1930, the island was
made de jure a part of the Kingdom of Norway.
World War II
World War II , continental
Norway was invaded and occupied by
Germany in spring 1940. The four-man team on
Jan Mayen stayed at their
posts and in an act of defiance began sending their weather reports to
the United Kingdom instead of Norway. The British codenamed Jan Mayen
'Island X' and attempted to reinforce it with troops to counteract any
German attack. The Norwegian patrol boat HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen ran
aground on one of the islands' many uncharted lava reefs and the
68-man crew abandoned ship and joined the Norwegian team on shore. The
British expedition commander, prompted by the loss of the gunboat,
decided to abandon
Jan Mayen until the following spring and radioed
for a rescue ship. Within a few days a ship arrived and evacuated the
four Norwegians and their would-be reinforcements after demolishing
the weather station to prevent it from falling into German hands. The
Germans attempted to land a weather team on the island on 16 November
1940. The German naval trawler carrying the team crashed on the rocks
Jan Mayen after a patrolling British destroyer had picked
them up on radar. This was not a coincidence as the German plan had
been compromised from the beginning with British wireless interceptors
of the Radio Security Service following the communications of the
Abwehr (the German Intelligence service) concerning the operation and
the destroyer had been waiting. Most of the crew struggled ashore and
were taken prisoner by a landing party from the destroyer.
Traditional signpost with directions to civilization on Jan Mayen
The Allies returned to the island on 10 March 1941, when the
Norwegian ship Veslekari, escorted by the patrol boat Honningsvaag,
dropped 12 Norwegian weathermen on the island. The team's radio
transmissions soon betrayed its presence to the Axis , and German
Norway began to bomb and strafe
Jan Mayen whenever weather
would permit it, though they did little damage. Soon supplies and
reinforcements arrived and even some anti-aircraft guns, giving the
island a garrison of a few dozen weathermen and soldiers. By 1941,
Germany had given up hope of evicting the Allies from the island and
the constant air raids stopped.
On 7 August 1942, a German
Focke-Wulf Fw 200 "Condor", probably on a
mission to bomb the station, smashed into the nearby mountainside of
Danielssenkrateret in fog, killing all 9 crewmembers. In 1950, the
wreck of another German plane with 4 crew members was discovered on
the southwest side of the island. In 1943, the Americans established
a radio locating station named Atlantic City in the north to try to
locate German radio bases in
After the war, the meteorological station was located at Atlantic
City, but moved in 1949 to a new location. Radio
Jan Mayen also served
as an important radio station for ship traffic in the
Arctic Ocean .
NATO decided to build the
LORAN-C network in the Atlantic
Ocean, and one of the transmitters had to be on Jan Mayen. By 1961,
the new military installations, including a new airfield, were
For some time, scientists doubted if there could be any activity in
Beerenberg volcano, but in 1970 the volcano erupted, and added
another 3 km2 (1.2 sq mi) of land mass to the island during the
three-to-four weeks it lasted. It had more eruptions in 1973 and 1985.
During an eruption, the sea temperature around the island may increase
from just above freezing to about 30 °C (86 °F).
Historic stations and huts on the island are Hoyberg, Vera, Olsbu,
Puppebu (cabin), Gamlemetten or Gamlestasjonen (the old weather
Jan Mayen Radio, Helenehytta, Margarethhytta, and Ulla (a
cabin at the foot of the Beerenberg).
A regulation dating from 2010 renders the island a nature reserve
under Norwegian jurisdiction. The aim of this regulation is to ensure
the preservation of a pristine Arctic island and the marine life
nearby, including the ocean floor. Landings at
Jan Mayen can be done
by boat. However, this is permitted only at a small part of the
Båtvika (Boat Bay). As there is no commercial airline
operating at the island, one cannot get there by plane except by
chartering one . Admission for landings by a charter plane has to be
obtained in advance. Admission to stay on the island has to be
obtained in advance, and is generally limited to a few days (or even
hours). Putting up a tent or setting up camp is prohibited. There is a
separate regulation for the stay of foreigners. Northwest
GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY
Soviet topographic map
Jan Mayen consists of two geographically distinct parts. Nord-Jan has
a round shape and is dominated by the 2,277 m (7,470 ft) high
Beerenberg volcano with its large ice cap (114.2 km2 or 44 sq mi),
which can be divided into twenty individual outlet glaciers. The
largest of those is Sørbreen , with an area of 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi) and
a length of 8.7 km (5.41 mi). South-Jan is narrow, comparatively flat
and unglaciated. Its highest elevation is
Rudolftoppen at 769 m (2,523
ft). The station and living quarters are located on South-Jan. The
island lies at the northern end of the
Jan Mayen Microcontinent . The
microcontinent was originally part of the
Greenland Plate , but now
forms part of the
Eurasian Plate .
IMPORTANT BIRD AREA
The island was identified as an
Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife
International because it is a breeding site for large numbers of
seabirds , supporting populations of northern fulmars
(78,000–160,000 pairs), little auks (10,000–100,000 pairs),
thick-billed guillemot (74,000–147,000 pairs) and black guillemots
Jan Mayen has a hyperoceanic polar climate, similar to
Svalbard, with a Köppen classification of ET. The
Gulf Stream 's
powerful influence makes seasonal temperature variations extremely
small considering the latitude of the island, with ranges from around
6 °C (43 °F) in August to −6 °C (21 °F) in February, but also
makes the island extremely cloudy with little sunshine even during the
continuous polar day. The deep snow cover prevents any permafrost from
developing despite a mean annual temperature slightly below freezing.
CLIMATE DATA FOR JAN MAYEN (1961-1990, EXTREMES 1921-PRESENT)
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS (≥ 1 MM)
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
Source #1: Norwegian
The Weather Network (humidity), World Climate data
* Geography portal
* Europe portal
Svalbard and Jan Mayen
* List of islands of
* List of islands of
Norway by area
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* ^ TNA HW 19/37~~~~
* ^ "The crash site at Danielssenkrateret". Archived from the
original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
* ^ "
Jan Mayen History". Retrieved 2014-05-29.
* ^ "FOR 2010-11-19 nr 1456: Forskrift om fredning av Jan Mayen
naturreservat" (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on
2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
* ^ "FOR 1962-06-01 nr 01: Forskrifter om utlendingers adgang til
Jan Mayen" (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 2012-08-04.
* ^ "
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* ^ "NORWAY - JAN MAYEN". Retrieved 7 May 2014. (registration
* ^ "Statistics: Jan Mayen, Norway".
The Weather Network .
* ^ "
Jan Mayen Climate Guide". Retrieved 2014-05-29.
* Ledgard, J.M. (2011) Submergence Coffee House Press.
* Umbreit, Andreas (2005)
Svalbard - Franz Josef Land
- Jan Mayen, 3rd ed., Chalfont St. Peter : Bradt Travel Guides, ISBN
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