New Siberian Islands

The New Siberian Islands (Новосибирские Острова/Novosibirskiye Ostrova) are an archipelago of large islands located in the Arctic Ocean off the northeast coast of Siberia, lying northeast from the Lena River delta (see large size image.) They are bound by the waters of the East Siberian Sea to the east, the Laptev Sea to the west and by the open Arctic Ocean to the north. The archipelago is divided in to three island groups: the New Siberian Islands (Anzhu Islands), the Lyakhovsky Islands, and the small De Longa Islands. The total land area of the group is around 29,000 km².

The largest islands of the group are those that form the New Siberian Islands — Kotel'nyy Island (11,700 km²), Novaya Sibir (6,200 km²), Faddeyevsky Island (5,300 km²), and Belkovsky Island (500 km²). The islands of Kotel'nyy and Faddeyevsky are joined with one another via an extremely low-lying sandy plain of 6,200 km² (tan colored area in the images) known as Bunge Land. At 23,165 km², the Kotel'nyy-Bunge-Faddeyevsky landmass is the third largest island of the Russian Arctic after the two main islands of Novaya Zemlya.

Situated 50 km south across the Sannikov Strait from the New Siberian Islands are the islands that form the Lyakhovsky (Ляховские острова) group: Bol'shoy Lyahkovsky (4,600 km²), Little Lyakhovsky (1,325 km²), Stolbovoy Island (170 km²), and Semyonovsky Island (5 km²). They are separated from the mainland by the 60 km wide Dmitry Laptev Strait. The third, and smallest grouping, of the New Siberian Islands are those of the De Longa (De Long) Islands situated northeast from the island of Novaya Sibir. With a combined land area of 228 km² the group consists of five small islands: Bennett (150 km²), Zhokhova (58 km²), Henrietta (12 km²), Jeannette (3.5 km²), and Vilkitskogo (5 km²).

The New Siberian islands are mostly low-lying with a few low rounded hills. The islands were formed relatively recently by retreating sea levels and are thus exposed parts of the continental shelf and consist mainly of loose sediments. The De Longa Islands are quite different, being rockier and higher, rising to 426 m on Bennet Island. Unlike the other islands of the Russian Arctic, the New Siberian Islands are not ice-bound by glaciers or ice-caps. Here too, the De Longa Islands are the exception — around 80% of the land mass of the group is covered by glaciers.

image: MODIS rapid response project at nasa/goddard space flight center