I think most of you will agree with me that NASA’s Earth Observatory
brings some beautiful (and interesting) satellite images. Here is one of Novaya Zemlya:Larger solution is available at EO.
Novaya Zemlya is an Arctic archipelago off the north coast of the Russian Federation. Besides several smaller isles, Novaya Zemlya consists of two major islands, Severny in the north and Yuzhny in the south, separated by a narrow strait, Matochkin Shar. An extension of the Ural Mountains, this mountainous archipelago has an average altitude of roughly 1,000 m above sea level, and glaciers cover much of the northern island.
The Uralian orogenic
belt is usually thought of as the boundary between Europe and Asia. It extends from the Aral Sea to Novaya Zemlya, and it includes the Ural Mountains, the Pay-Khoy Ridge, and the Mughalzhar Hills of northwest Kazakhstan. Its total length is about 3,500 km, of which the Ural Mountains are about 2,500 km.
The physical manifestations of orogenesis (the process of orogeny/mountain buidling) are orogenic belts or orogens. The name of such orogenic belts often end in -ides, like the Caledonides from the Caledonian orogeny, the Ketilides from the Ketilidian orogen, and indeed the Uralides from the Uralian orogen.
The Uralide/Uralian orogen of central Russia, the geographic and geologic divide between Europe and Asia, marks the Paleozoic collision zone of the East European craton with the Asian collage of terranes. Together with the Appalachian, Caledonian, and Variscan orogens, the Urals were one of the major zones of continental convergence that contributed to the assembly of the late Paleozoic Pangea
supercontinent. Tectonic evolution of the Urals began with rifting and the development of a passive continental margin on the East European platform in latest Cambrian to early Ordovician time, followed by Middle Paleozoic rifting of microcontinental fragments, the formation of island arcs and back-arc basins, and assembly of these terranes within the Uralian paleo-ocean. The final collision of Eastern Europe with this complex collage and the Siberian craton took place in Late Carboniferous and Permian time. In contrast to the classic Alpine or Himalayan style of orogeny, involving collision between large continental masses, the Altaids developed through the assembly of a collage of island-arc and microcontinental fragments that subsequently impacted the East European margin in the Late Paleozoic. The Urals are among the world's oldest extant mountain ranges. For its age of 250 to 300 million years, the elevation of the mountains is unusually high (see also my post on Why are the (Norwegian) Mountains so High
Although Novaya Zemlya can be seen as the most northern part of the Urals, some geologist do not consider it a part of the Uralides, as the Novaya Zemlya fold belt is much younger than the Ural. The Ural is of Hercynian age (late Carboniferous to early Permian) with orogenic activity diminishing until the Triassic, while the Novaya Zemlya fold belt had it's most important orogeny in the Triassic.
Before the turn of the twentieth century, Arctic sea ice used to linger along the coast of Novaya Zemlya’s larger island each July. After the turn of the century, however, increased summertime melt made open ocean more common. On the image we see how a narrow band of sea ice hugs the southeastern coast, and smaller pieces of sea ice float off the northern island’s northeastern tip.
In my youth Novaya Zemlya was particularly known for the Russian nuclear testing, that started in October 1954 (I was 13-14 years old at the time!). All that went wrong at the time - especially bad weather, but apart from that practically everything - was said to be caused by the nuclear testing on Novaja Zemlya, just like global warming gets the blame for everything today. The world needs a scapegoat. This does of course by no means imply that we should not condemn todays nuclear testing by whomever, or do nothing to hinder global warming.