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Glacier and mountain in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle
Antigua sailing ship in Svalbard for Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle. Photo ©Alex Heilner

About The Tours

These tours are intended for people who are interested in learning about the formation of the many unique landscapes found in Arctic Circle. Please note that a background in geology is not necessary to be a trip participant. Instead, prior to trip departure, Dr. Jovanelly will provide you with introductory-level videos and reading materials that will highlight relevant geological concepts (e.g. plate tectonics, rock cycle, volcanics). This background material will build your foundational knowledge in geology so that you will be prepared to engage in more advanced content as presented during the trip.

Also, please know that the content of the trip can be altered for school or university groups who are interested in learning advanced concepts.

Trip Information

Join us aboard a 3-mast barquentine sailing ship that will cruise just 621 miles south of the North Pole to visit a faraway group of islands, called Svalbard. The ship will depart out of the port city of Longyearbyen, located on Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen. The trip dates are from August 29 though September 10, 2023. In the Arctic, this time of year is referred to as the “polar sunset”. That is, moving into late-August the sun begins to descend, but still sitting on the horizon, the sun will create a sky filled with pink, purple, orange and gold hues.

Over the course of 11-days we will sail as far north as the weather, and the sea ice, permits. As is such, the days will be serendipitously scheduled by your experienced Captain and your thoughtful guides so that you will see the best geology, the best wildlife, and the best scenery that Svalbard has to offer.

On most days there will be a morning and afternoon excursion using small boats, called zodiacs. Using these boats to go to shore, we will be able to hike with a professional land-guide that is trained in polar bear safety. While the hikes and landing spots will regularly focus on the area’s geology, they could also include significant cultural heritage sites, important bird migration locations, or large mammal viewing areas (e.g. walrus, seal, whale, reindeer, Arctic fox, polar bear). When shore landings are not an option, the zodiacs will take us on excursions through sea ice, on tours to view glacial cliff faces, and on journeys into fjords filled with icebergs. These serene, small boat, off-shore experiences can best be described as finding peace on Earth.

Antigua sailing ship in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle sunset with Adventure Geology Tours
No doubt, the fresh-air will make you hungry! It’s a good thing that we will have a chef on board who will be making us three fantastic meals a day…and even an afternoon sweet treat. The chef is happy to accommodate for vegans/vegetarians, food allergies, or other dietary restrictions. Additionally, to keep you warm and ready to-go, there will be coffee and tea available throughout the day. And if you’re wondering about Happy Hour, a cash-bar serving wine, beer, and spirits will be open every evening!

After an amazing dinner, we will have a 50-minute lecture on Svalbard geology from an Arctic geologist who researches such topics as: glacial geology, climate change, fossil-record, and area plate tectonics. Following the lecture, you will have time to socialize with your shipmates, play games, or rest-up for the early morning adventures that await.

Lastly, I bet you are you wondering if the sails ever go up? The Captain and crew will determine when the best conditions are to raise the sails. However, with only 8 crew members, hoisting the sails will require all-hands-on-deck! So, if you are able and willing to help, you will get the experience of learning how to sail. Additionally, if you are brave enough to climb the rigging, the crew will make it happen!

*We will ask that you arrive on or before August 29, 2023. Your accommodation will be booked in Longyearbyen on August 29 and is included in the trip cost. Likewise, we will be back in port on September 9 and we will book your accommodation in Longyearbyen. Departures can be booked starting on September 10.

Please note that after the ship leaves Longyearbyen you will not have access to Wi-Fi or mobile phone service. That is, from August 30-September 9, you will not have the capability to send or receive email, text, or phone call. In case of an emergency, your friends and family will be given the Captain’s email address that she/he checks twice daily. If there is an emergency on the ship, the Captain and crew will respond appropriately to the situation.


Geological Stops and Points of Interest

On the map you can see that the main of Svalbard is very gently tilting from N to S, e.g. the wide Triassic in the SE and the Precanbrian in the N. It is then segmented by N-S striking post-Caledonian lineaments, which have been reactivated since, throwing up the basement and down the old red. In the west, the strata are progressively more tilted towards the fold&thrust-belt, created by the early Cenozoic transpression collision with Greenland.
Barentsburg: Current Russian settlement, same coal as in Longyear, but looks like the Soviet Union.
Pyramiden: Defunct Russian mining ghost town, carboniferous coal. The area shows the cyclical deposition of coal, fluvio-eolians and carbonates in the Billefjorden trough graben. There are karst caves in the limestones.
Clinoforms: In van Keulenfjorden, clinoforms are displayed at life scale along the fjord.
Midterhuken: Spectacular overturned mega-fold in the Triassic in the fold and thrust belt.
Akseløya: A hard, cemented Permian limestone, that acts as a barrier island in front of the fjord, due to the tilted rocks in the foreland belt.
Festningen profile: Walk through sediments from upper Permian through lower Cretaceous, which have been tilted steep by the Cenozoic compression. (Cretaceous fluvials in festningen have dinosaur tracks, but they are elusive and vulnerable to erosion. More tracks are found on eastern Spitsbergen). Permission for access from authorities may be needed.
Sassen: The Sassen valley is the discovery area for the (in)famous marine reptiles and Predator X. The localities themselves are high in the mountainside, and the fossils vulnerable, though. I could inquire with my contacts among the “reptile hunters”. The valley, however, has good exposures of reservoirs and source rocks, with a glacier fall at the fjord end. Most of Svalbard is national park and some localities protected, where fossil collecting is reserved for scientific work.
Old red: The big fault block thrown down between the Precambrian in the north, old red sandstone; continental deposits during the post-Caledonian extension.
Hot springs and volcanoes: There are some hot springs and Quaternary volcano plugs in the NW, distance effects from the sea floor spreading in the sea W of Svalbard.
Mediumfjellet: Big duplex structure, rooted in anhydrite decollement zones, repeating both Triassic shale and a Cretaceous sill.
Prins Karls Forland: Precambrian sediments and crystallines.

Bedrock Geology of Svalbard map - Adventure Geology Tours - Arctic Circle

Trip Dates

Summer 2025

More information coming soon!


Please contact us for the latest pricing information.

Our mostly-inclusive 13 day excursion includes:

While on the boat:

    • 11-night stay in a double-occupancy cabin accommodation with private bathroom and sink
    • 3 daily chef-prepared hot meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
    • All-day access to coffee/tea/hot water
    • Freshly baked afternoon “sweet treats”
    • Daily morning and afternoon zodiac adventures (weather and location permitting)
    • Shore landings provided by experienced and certified Arctic guides
    • Nightly lectures presented by a professional Arctic-focused geologist and researcher

While on land:

    • Two-night stay in Longyearbyen hotel (pre- and post-voyage) with shared accommodation and shared bathroom; breakfast included
    • 2 social receptions (Meet & Greet/Farwell) with beverages
    • Adventure Geology Tours – Arctic Circle long sleeved t-shirt, fancy logo water bottle, and stickers
    • Map of Spitzbergen to track route

*per double occupancy; airfare not included

Antigua sailing ship in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle
“AMAZING PROGRAM! I have a background in geology, and she had enough info for people with some knowledge and complete novices alike. Well done.”
-Smithsonian Associates Short-Course Participant

These reviews are from our flagship location, Iceland. Come with us and leave a review for Adventure Geology Tours – Arctic Circle!

Planned Itinerary

 August 29, 2023: Arrival in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. Check-in to hotel reserved by Adventure Geology Tours. An evening Meet & Greet social reception with hors d’oeuvres and beverages will allow trip participants to meet and mingle.

August 30, 2023: Breakfast at hotel. FREE morning to shop and sight-see in Longyearbyen. Afternoon group gathering to meet the Captain and crew before we board our ship, the Antigua.

August 30 – September 9, 2023: Departing out of Longyearbyen, we will head north along the western coast of Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen. The ship’s route will ultimately be determined by the weather and the Captain, with input from the guides. Often times we moore overnight in a fjord that is sheltered, whereby reducing the impacts of wave motion for a peaceful night’s sleep. Our days will be spent sailing, taking excursions to land, seeing amazing scenery, learning about interesting geology, and building comradery with guides, crew, and all ship participants. Our after-dinner geology lecture presented by an Arctic scientist will prove to stimulate discussion and conversation about the Arctic Circle.

September 9, 2023: Arrive back to our home port in Longyearbyen and transported to the hotel booked by Adventure Geology Tours. An evening Farewell reception with hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be hosted at the hotel.

September 10, 2023: Breakfast included before your departure.

An Untouched Arctic Archipelago at the Top of the Globe

Imagine visiting a region North of mainland Europe that is midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. It is here you will find a group of remote islands, between 74° and 81°N, referred to as Svalbard. Although the islands (23,570 mi2) were used by whalers in the 17th and 18th century, and then settled in the 20th century for coal excavation, the territories largely remain uninhabited and today have a reported population under 3,000. Likely, this is due to the rugged glacial landscapes, and the vast frozen tundra, that have persisted since the Pleistocene; to-date, glaciers cover approximately 59% of Svalbard’s total land area. Surrounded by the cold waters of the Barents Sea, the North Atlantic, and the Arctic Ocean, the only practical way to access land in the archipelago is by a ship capable of entering fjords, and then going to land by smaller boats, called zodiacs.

Remarkably, Svalbard has the most complete geologic record in northern Europe and offers extensive variability in rock type, structure, and alteration process. And, thanks to the glaciers, the exposures of rocks in outcrop are unimpeded for vast distances.

Just some of the geologic wonders that are revealed in the landscape include: unparalleled exposures of ancient metamorphic rocks; an abundance of fossil-rich limestones, sandstones and shales that contain world-renowned plant, coral, invertebrate and vertebrate specimens; historically important coal deposits; and text-book examples of glacial landforms (e.g. rock and valley glaciers, moraines, patterned ground, pingos, glacial denudation flats, thermokarst, raised beaches).

Basically, taking a trip to this rarely-visited archipelago is like walking into an outdoor amusement park for those who are entertained by seeing the geologic record being destroyed, altered, remastered and presented as picturesque scenery. Throw in a sailing ship, a polar bear sighting, and a sky in perpetual sunset. What more could you possibly ask for in your Arctic Circle experience??

See the polar sunset in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle
Antigua sailing ship in Svalbard for Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle. Photo ©Alex Heilner
Group aboard Antigua
RIB excursions to glaciers and icebergs in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle

Sights You’ll See

Iceberg off Svalbard seen with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle

Glaciers, icebergs, & fjords

See the arctic geography up-close with RIB (rigid inflatable boat) excursions daily (weather permitting).

Geologic record in Svalbard with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle

Extensive Geologic Record

Svalbard has the most complete geologic record in northern Europe and offers extensive variability in rock type, structure, and alteration process.
See Svalbard cliffs with Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle

Exposed Fossil-Rich Rock

Glacier movement has created an abundance of exposed rock outcrops that contain fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales that contain world-renowned plant, coral, invertebrate, and vertebrate specimens

See walruses on Adventure Geology Tours Arctic Circle

Iconic Arctic Wildlife

We may see fauna such as walruses, seals, whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, polar bears, and migratory birds.

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