Kolyma River (Russian: Колыма́, IPA: [kəlɨˈma]) is
a river in northeastern Siberia, whose basin covers parts of the Sakha
Republic, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and
Magadan Oblast of Russia. It
begins at the confluence of the Kulu River and the Ayan Yuryakh River
and empties into the
Kolyma Gulf (Kolymskiy Zaliv) of the East
Siberian Sea, a division of the Arctic Ocean, at 69°30′N
161°30′E / 69.500°N 161.500°E / 69.500; 161.500. The
Kolyma is 2,129 kilometres (1,323 mi) long. The area of its basin
is 644,000 square kilometres (249,000 sq mi).
Kolyma is frozen to depths of several metres for about
250 days each year, becoming free of ice only in early June,
until October. The average discharge at Kolymskoye is 3,254 m3/s
(114,900 cu ft/s), with a high of 26,201 m3/s
(925,300 cu ft/s) reported in June 1985, and a low of
30.6 m3/s (1,080 cu ft/s) in April 1979.
5 See also
7 General references
8 External links
In 1640 Dimitry Zyryan (also called Yarilo or Yerilo) went overland to
the Indigirka. In 1641 he sailed down the Indigirka, went east and up
the Alazeya. Here they heard of the
Kolyma and met Chukchis for the
first time. In 1643 he returned to the Indigirka, sent his yasak
Yakutsk and went back to the Alazeya. In 1645 he returned
to the Lena where he met a party and learned that he had been
appointed prikazchik (land administrator) of the Kolyma. He returned
east and died in early 1646. In the winter of 1641–42 Mikhail
Stadukhin, accompanied by Semyon Dezhnyov, went overland to the upper
Indigirka. He spent the next winter there, built boats and sailed down
the Indigirka and east to the
Alazeya where he met Zyryan. Zyryan and
Dezhnyov stayed at the Alazeya, while Stadukhin went east, reaching
Kolyma in the summer of 1644. They built a zimovye (winter cabin),
probably at Srednekolymsk, and returned to
Yakutsk in late 1645.
Baron Eduard Von Toll
Baron Eduard Von Toll carried out geological surveys in
the basin of the
Kolyma (among other Far-eastern Siberian rivers) on
behalf of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Barr, 1980). During one
year and two days the expedition covered 25,000 kilometres
(16,000 mi), of which 4,200 kilometres (2,600 mi) were up
rivers, carrying out geodesic surveys en route.
Kolyma is known for its
Gulag labour camps and gold mining, both
of which have been extensively documented since Joseph Stalin–era
Soviet archives opened. The river gives its title to a famous
anthology about life in
Gulag camps by Varlam Shalamov, The Kolyma
After the camps were closed, state subsidies, local industries and
communication dwindled to almost nothing. Many people have migrated,
but those who remain in the area make a living by fishing and hunting.
In small fishing settlements, fish are sometimes stored in caves
carved from permafrost. The last Americans to visit the Kolyma
during the Soviet era, before perestroika, were the crew of the
sailing schooner Nanuk in August 1929, whose visit was captured in a
film taken by the Nanuk owner's 18-year-old daughter, Marion
Swenson. The first two Americans to visit the
Kolyma after the
Nanuk's visit were writer Wallace Kaufman and journalist Rebecca Clay,
who traveled by cutter from Ziryanka to Green Cape in August 1991.
In February 2012, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
reported that scientists had grown plants from 30,000-year-old Silene
stenophylla fruit, which was stored in squirrel burrows near the banks
Kolyma river and preserved in permafrost.
Settlements at the
Kolyma river include (listed downstream) Sinegorye,
Debin, Ust-Srednekan, Seymchan, Zyryanka,
Srednekolymsk and Chersky.
The bridge at Debin
There is a hydropower plant at
Station) in the upper part of the river. The plant was started in the
Kolyma Gestroi and both the plant and the town of Sinegoria
were built under the supervision of chief engineer Oleg Kogadovski.
The town included an olympic sized swimming pool, an underground rifle
range, and many amenities absent in most other small Russian towns.
Kogadovski said that in order to attract and employ good talent in
such a remote place, the town had to be exceptional. The dam provides
most of the electricity to the region including Magadan. the Kolyma
dam is an earthen dam some 150 ft high. Air circulation tubes
carry frigid winter air into the core of the dam where frozen earth
stabilizes the structure.
Kolyma Ges. said it was the largest dam ever
built in a permafrost region. A new hydropower plant is under
plant (ru)). Larch forests cleared for the reservoir were cut in
winter when the trunks are frozen and easily snapped. The wood was
sold for pulp.
There are only a few bridges over the river, including at
Sinegorye and at
Debin (which carries the Kolyma
In the last 75-kilometre (47 mi) stretch, the
Kolyma divides into
two large branches. There are many islands at the mouth of the Kolyma
before it meets the East Siberian sea. The main ones are:
Mikhalkino 69°24′58″N 161°15′18″E / 69.416°N
161.255°E / 69.416; 161.255 is the largest island, it lies to the
west of the Kolyma's eastern branch, the Prot. Kammennaya Kolyma. This
island breaks up into smaller islands on its northern end. It is 24
kilometres (15 mi) long and 6 kilometres (4 mi) wide.
Mikhalkino is also known as "Glavsevmorput Island" after the Chief
Directorate of the Northern Sea Route.
Sukharnyy, or Sukhornyy, is 3 kilometres from the northeastern shores
of Mikhalkino. It is 11 kilometres (7 mi) long and about 5
kilometres (3 mi) wide. Northeast of Sukhornyy lies a cluster of
small islands known as the Morskiye Sotki Islands.
Piat' Pal'tsev lies 5 kilometres to the southeast of Sukhornyy's
southern end. It is 5 kilometres long and has a maximum width of
Nazarovsky Island 69°31′59″N 161°05′10″E / 69.533°N
161.086°E / 69.533; 161.086 lies on the western side of the
Kolyma's western branch, the Prot. Pokhodskaya Kolyma, in an area
where there are many small islands. It is 4.5 kilometres long and
1.3 kilometres wide.
Shtormovoy Island 69°39′58″N 161°01′52″E / 69.666°N
161.031°E / 69.666; 161.031 lies offshore, about 10 kilometres
(6 mi) to the north of Nazarovsky Island. Shtormovoy is the
northernmost island off the Mouths of the Kolyma. It is
4.3 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide.
Kolyma article which provides additional information about the
Kolyma At Kolymskoye". R-ARCTICNET. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
^ Lantzeff, George V., and Richard A. Pierce (1973). Eastward to
Empire: Exploration and Conquest on the Russian Open Frontier, to
1750. Montreal: McGill-Queen's U.P.
^ Personal observation in 1991, journals kept by Wallace Kaufman
^ Gleason, Robert J. Frozen In The Siberian Arctic. Alaska Northwest
^ unpublished journals of Wallace Kaufman
^ Black, Richard (February 20, 2012). "Ancient plants back to life
after 30,000 frozen years". BBC News.
William Barr, Baron Eduard von Toll’s Last Expedition: The Russian
Polar Expedition, 1900-1903 (1980). 
Shalamov, Varlam Tikhonovich (1994)
Kolyma tales [Kolymskie rasskazy],
Glad, John (transl.), Penguin twentieth-century classics,
Harmondsworth : Penguin, ISBN 0-14-018695-6
Gulag river now Siberian lifeline: 
Strandberg, Mikael and Johan Ivarsson, travelled down the full length
Kolyma River 2004. An Expedition hailed internationally as one
of the coldest ever.
Position and names of islands
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kolyma.
Kolyma River in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978 (Russian)
Information and a map of the Kolyma's watershed
Picture of Mikhalkino Island
Islands of the
East Siberian Sea
East Siberian Sea (Russian Arctic)
De Long Islands
Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island
Maly Lyakhovsky Island
New Siberian Islands