Novaya Zemlya

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Novaya Zemlya
Image:Novaya Zemlya position.png
Map showing location of the site
Type Nuclear test site
Location 74.437572° N 56.293945° E
Area 55,200 km² (land)
36,000 km² (water)
Operator Russian Federation (formerly Soviet Union)
Status Active
In use 1955 – present
not known

Novaya Zemlya (Russian: Но́вая Земля́, lit. New Land; formerly known in English and still in Dutch as Nova Zembla) is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe (see also extreme points of Europe). The archipelago is administered by Arkhangelsk Oblast as Novaya Zemlya District. Population: 2,716 (2002 Census).

Novaya Zemlya consists of two major islands, separated by the narrow Matochkin Strait, and a number of smaller ones. The two main islands are Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern). Novaya Zemlya separates the Barents Sea from the Kara Sea. The total area is about 90,650 km².


[edit] Geology

Novaya Zemlya is the northern part of the Ural Mountains,<ref name="nasa">Template:Cite web</ref> and the interior is mountainous throughout.<ref name="eb1911">Novaya Zemlya in: Template:Cite web</ref> It is separated from the mainland by the Kara Strait.<ref name="eb1911" /> The mountains reach a height of 1,070 m.<ref name="columbia">Novaya Zemlya in: Template:Cite web</ref> The northern island contains many glaciers, while the southern one has a tundra climate.<ref name="columbia" /> Natural resources include copper, lead, and zinc.<ref name="columbia" /> The indigenous population consists of about 100 Nenetses and 50 Avars[citation needed] who subsist mainly on fishing, trapping, polar bear husbandry, and seal hunting.<ref name="columbia" />

[edit] History

The Russians knew of Novaya Zemlya from the 11th century, when traders from Novgorod visited the area.<ref name="eb1911" /> For western Europeans, the search for the Northeast passage in the 16th century led to its exploration.<ref name="eb1911" /> The first visit was by Hugh Willoughby in 1553.<ref name="eb1911" /> Willem Barents in 1594 rounded the north point of Novaya Zemlya,<ref name="eb1911" /> and wintered on the north-east coast.<ref name="whitfield">Whitfield, Peter (1998). New Found Lands: Maps in the History of Exploration. UK: Routledge. ISBN 0415920264. Retrieved on 2006-10-14.</ref> During a later voyage by Feodor Liitke in 1821–1824, the west coast was mapped.<ref name="eb1911" /> Henry Hudson was another explorer who ended up at Novaya Zemlya while searching for the Northeast Passage.<ref name="encarta">Henry Hudson in: Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Nuclear testing

Image:Novaya Zemlya testing map.png
Novaya Zemlya's major test site boundaries and facilities

In July 1954, Novaya Zemlya was declared as the Novaya Zemlya Test Site, construction of which began in October<ref name="khalturin_2005">Template:Cite journal</ref> and existed during much of the Cold War. "Zone A", Chyornaya Guba (70.7° N 54.6° E), was used in 1955–1962 and 1972–1975.<ref name="khalturin_2005" /> "Zone B", Matochkin Shar (73.4° N 54.9° E), was used for underground tests in 1964–1990.<ref name="khalturin_2005" /> "Zone C", Sukhoy Nos (73.7° N 54.0° E), was used in 1958–1961 and was the 1961 explosion site of Tsar Bomba, a record 50-megaton blast conducted in the atmosphere.<ref name="khalturin_2005" /> Other tests occurred elsewhere throughout the islands, with an official testing range covering over half of the landmass.

1963 saw the implementation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty outlawing most atmospheric nuclear tests.<ref name="lamont_doherty">Template:Cite web</ref> The largest underground test at Novaya Zemlya took place on September 12 1973, involving four nuclear devices of 4.2 megatons total yield. Although far smaller in blast power than Tsar Bomba and other atmospheric tests, the confinement of the blasts underground led to pressures rivaling natural earthquakes. In the case of the September 12 1973 test, a seismic magnitude of 6.97 on the Richter Scale was reached, setting off an 80 million ton avalanche that blocked two glacial streams and created a lake 2 km in length.<ref name="lamont_doherty" />

Over its entire history as a nuclear test site, Novaya Zemlya hosted 224 nuclear detonations with a total explosive energy equivalent to 265 megatons of TNT.<ref name="khalturin_2005" /> For comparison, all explosives used in World War II, including the detonations of two U.S. nuclear bombs, amounted to only two megatons.<ref name="lamont_doherty" />

In 1988–1989, glasnost helped make the Novaya Zemlya testing activities public knowledge,<ref name="khalturin_2005" /> and in 1990 Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the site.<ref name="greenpeace_hist">Template:Cite web</ref> The last nuclear test explosion was in 1990 (also the last for the entire Soviet Union and Russia). The Ministry for Atomic Energy has performed a series of subcritical hydronuclear experiments near Matochkin Shar each autumn since 1998.<ref name="jasinsky">Template:Cite journal</ref> These tests reportedly involve up to 100 g of weapons-grade plutonium.<ref name="nti">Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] In popular culture

  • Novaya Zemlya may have been the inspiration for the fictional land of Zembla, which plays a key role in Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 novel Pale Fire.
  • The islands are prominently featured in the book Raise the Titanic! by Clive Cussler, as the only natural source of a rare mineral, byzanium, for use in an advanced missile defense system.
  • Novaya Zemlya is the location for the first sortie in the third set of missions in the PC game "Delta Force Xtreme"
  • The last two missions of the Playstation 2 game SWAT: Global Strike Team take place in Novaya Zemlya.
  • Nova Zembla is the location for some of the action in Philip Pullman's 1997 novel The Subtle Knife.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 74.437572° N 56.293945° E

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Novaya Zemlya

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