Urvantsev Nikolai Nikolaevich

Geologist, an outstanding Arctic explorer.
Born in the town of Lukoyanov, Nizhny Novgorod province, in the family of a small merchant. In 1907, his father went bankrupt and began to work for hire.
In 1911 Urvantsev graduated from the Nizhny Novgorod real school and, because of material insecurity, he went to study in Tomsk. There he entered the mining department of the technological institute, earning his studies by participating in surveying parties in Chulym, Altai, in Khakassia.
The institute graduated in 1918 on the first category, receiving the title of mining engineer-geologist. Almost immediately after graduation, he was inducted into the newly organized Sibgeolkom and received a task to search for coal in the lower reaches of the Yenisei for the needs of the Ust-Yenisei port under construction, as well as copper and coal deposits in the Norilsk region. Their existence was known from the materials of academician F.B. Schmidt, who visited here in 1866. The main goal of the expedition, scheduled for 1919, was the fulfillment of the first task, as the economy and efficiency of sea transportation, vital for the development of the region, depended on it. Geological surveys carried out by Urvantsev in 1919 showed that there are no industrial deposits of coal in close proximity to the lower reaches of the Yenisei. Therefore, in 1920, Sibgeolkom approved the task of conducting geological surveys and exploration of the Norilsk coal deposit. Taking into account its remoteness from the Yenisei, at the same time railway survey works were designed for laying narrow-gauge railways for the Ust-Port – Norilsk and Dudinka – Norilsk options.
Having overcome all the difficulties of organization and transportation, which included sailing along the Yenisei from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka and the deer-foot crossing from Dudinka to the Norilsk Mountains, the Urvantsev expedition arrived at the site by the end of July. The field season lasted 42 days, during which an enormous amount of work was done, which made it possible to compile a large-scale instrumental topographic map, and on its basis a geological map of the Norilsk coal deposit. A man like Urvantsev could not limit himself to studying a limited region provided for in the assignment. He conducted geological routes to the valleys of the Rybnaya and Norilka rivers, also on the right bank of the Norilka in the Kharaulakh mountains, gaining a general idea of the geological structure and history of the geological development of the Norilsk region. The calculation of coal reserves gave a figure of 70 million tons, which provided the needs of the Northern Sea Route and the Yenisei River Port for many years. In addition, the analysis of ore occurrences showed a high content of copper and nickel and their large reserves. There were no similar ores in the country before. Urvantsev called this field Norilsk 1, being confident on the basis of his geological routes in the vicinity of Norilsk, that in the near future new deposits of this type will be discovered here. Surveys conducted by the railway party showed that Ust-Port as the main sea and river port is of little use. We stopped at a variant of the road from Dudinka. The railway workers tied their geodesic observations to an astronomical station laid down at the geologists' site of work, and called this point a “zero” picket.
The discovery of a copper-nickel deposit just a mile and a half from coal beds significantly increased the industrial prospects of Norilsk. It was decided to continue exploration work in the following 1921 and to conduct them year-round. With the assistance of Sibrevkom, by the spring products were imported to Norilsk, 500 deer were purchased and brought into Dudinka. By the beginning of July, the entire expedition with the necessary equipment and equipment arrived in Dudinka, from where they headed for Norilsk. A huge caravan stretched for three kilometers. Looking into the future, Urvantsev thought about what would happen when the work in Norilsk grew. Deer and even mechanical transport will not succeed. Railway construction will be required, as another option he considered using the Northern Sea Route and the water system from the North from the Kara Sea through the rivers Piasina and Norilka. Even then, he outlined the study of this part of the journey and the clarification of its capabilities. If the system turns out to be navigable, cargo delivery at least at first can be carried out by sea and river vessels almost to the field itself.
In the area of "zero" picket laid the first house, warehouse and bath, and during the construction they were already thinking about the planning of the future village. At the same time, work was done on laying the first gallery, which in the future played a huge role in providing fuel for the construction of the Norilsk Combine. Due to the absence of explosives, frozen ground was hollowed by hand. Eight people, headed by Urvantsev, remained for the winter. The wintering task is the continuation of mining, and for himself Urvantsev outlined a study of the geography of the region and a survey of the Pyasinskaya water system. The result of the survey was to create a topographic map of 1: 1,000,000 scale, relying on astronomical sites every 50–75 km, and identifying fairways in the rivers and Lake Pyasino. Along the way it was supposed to conduct geological observations.
Having made a plan for his campaigns, Urvantsev, with his organization and punctuality, began to implement it. In November, the Norilka River and Lake Pyasino were surveyed to the source of the River Pyasina. The fairway was found by measuring and along a chute in the ice cover. In Norilk, depths everywhere exceeded 2 m, on the lake they did not fall below 1.5–2 m. In February – March 1922, he surveyed a system of large lakes south of Norilsk and, finally, in June, he went on a fishing boat to survey the northern part of the water system - the river Pyasiny. The expedition expressed the desire to participate N.A. Begichev, who intended to choose in the area of ​​the Pyasina estuary a place for wintering the fishing artel organized by him. The whole trip to the mouth of the Pyasina, in the course of which the survey of the depths, a topographical survey of the coast, the creation of astronomical sites, and geological observations were carried out, lasted six weeks. Carefully examined the river delta. As a result, the navigability of Pyasina was established along its entire length, which significantly increased the industrial prospects of the Norilsk fields. The accuracy of the findings of Urvantsev confirmed life - during the construction of the Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical Combine, the Piasinsky water system was actively used for freight traffic.
From the mouth of Pyasina by sea went to Dickson. During this voyage, a detachment was made by the detachment of Urvantsev, contributing to the partial disclosure of one of the many mysteries of the Arctic. On the coast of the Kara Sea, 90 km from Dixon, they discovered R. Amundsen's mail, sent by him in 1919 with two sailors P. Tessem and P. Knutsen from a wintering place in the area of ​​Cape Chelyuskin to Dikson.
With a river caravan, Urvantsev reached Dudinka, and from there to Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk. Later, for the study of Pyasina, the Russian Geographical Society awarded him with a Przewalski' medal, and for the discovery of Amundsen's mail from the Norwegian government - a nominal gold watch.
The Norilsk coal deposit was transferred for detailed exploration to industrial organizations, and Geolcom engaged in the Norilsk copper-nickel deposit. Since the summer of 1923, it was decided to conduct year-round geological exploration and exploration of underground workings and drilling. Naturally appointed Urvantseva to head these works. The organization of the expedition proved to be extremely difficult. Only in September, having solved innumerable different kinds of problems, Urvantsev gathered an expedition in Dudinka. By this time he was already married to Elizaveta Ivanovna Naidenova, whom he met during the preparation of the expedition in Novonikolaevsk (Novosibirsk) in the summer of 1923. This woman became his faithful companion for the next very long life and survived him for a few months.
Delivery of cargo to Norilsk was started in October after the appearance of snow and was carried out in batches with simultaneous work at the field. Additional residential and industrial premises were constructed, tunnels and a borehole were laid. Overcoming all the complexities of life and work in the conditions of the Extreme North, eliminating frequent breakdowns and accidents, solving numerous technical problems, the expedition sought to achieve its goal. The galleries were included in solid sulfide ore. The well, which is 100 meters from the gallery, also entered the ore body and passed through it 12 m, which made it possible to conclude that the power of the body was maintained or even increased. By the end of work in August 1924, an experimental batch of 1,000 poods of ore was mined, which was delivered to Leningrad. Half of it was given to the mining and metallurgical laboratory of the Mining Institute for testing technological methods of metallurgical processing, and the second part - to the Institute of Methods of Mechanical Ore Enrichment (MECHANOBR) to determine the conditions for the enrichment of Norilsk ores. The exploration allowed to increase the forecast reserves of solid sulfide ores more than doubled compared with the 1921 estimate.
Urvantsev was transferred from the staff of the Tomsk branch of Geolkom to Leningrad. The results of the work were accepted and approved by the Academic Council of Geolkom, but the need for further research was recognized as economically inexpedient. Urvantsev had the courage to disagree with the decision of the high commission and filed his dissenting opinion. Higher Council of National Economy, headed by F.E. Dzerzhinsky, supported Urvantsev and decided to continue work on an even larger scale, starting in the spring of 1925. The expedition head was appointed PS. Alliluyeva, Urvantsev became his deputy. In subsequent years, work continued, not only in greater volume, but also at a higher technical level. Tracked vehicles were used, a large number of collapsible drilling rigs, used geophysical methods of exploration. By 1928, the Norilsk II field was discovered and explored for the next two years. After 1929, detailed exploration of these deposits began to identify the high category reserves required in the design of an industrial mining enterprise. The solution of this task, which was not within the competence of Geolkom, was transferred to other organizations, so Urvantsev did not take part in these studies. On the basis of the totality of the data obtained, the government in 1935 decided to build the Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical Combine.
In 1930, a government commission approved a plan for G.A. Ushakov on the long overdue study of the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, an open hydrographic expedition of the Arctic Ocean under the command of B.А. Vilkitsky in 1913. The essence of the plan was that a team of four selected professionals would be landed on Severnaya Zemlya and in two years using dog sleds to conduct its semi-instrumental topographic survey.
In February, Urvantsev was invited to the meeting of this commission to discuss the work plan, among many famous researchers of the North. It so happened that on the train on the way from Leningrad to Moscow, Urvantsev and Ushakov found themselves in the same compartment. Acquainted, they talked all night, discussing the upcoming study. Their views on the organization of the expedition coincided, and to mutual satisfaction, Urvantsev agreed with the proposal to join the four participants, headed by Ushakov, as the scientific leader of the expedition. His tasks included topographical survey, the definition of astronomical sites, geological, geomorphological, meteorological, magnetometric observations. Even before the approval of the work plan, Ushakov and Urvantsev began to compile lists of everything necessary, and after approval, they immediately began organizing, since the deadlines were extremely tight. Each member of the expedition, in which, besides Ushakov and Urvantsev, included Novozemelsky hunter S.P. Zhuravlev and radio operator V.V. Hodov had his certain remit. Leningrad apartment Urvantseva turned into a warehouse of a wide variety of items. Elizaveta Ivanovna provided enormous assistance, especially when she was a doctor, in the preparation of medicines and medical equipment. The main task of Urvantsev, in addition to participating in the solution of numerous general economic issues, was the preparation of scientific equipment. He had a lot from previous expeditions, much had to get through various scientific institutions. Urvantsev also designed a residential house by the type of what he had in Norilsk.
Thanks to the forced work of all the participants, the equipment of the expedition was fully completed by the end of June. As the entire course of this outstanding unprecedented Arctic enterprise showed, the organization was carried out brilliantly.
On July 12, the expedition launched from Arkhangelsk on the icebreaker steamer “G. Sedov. In addition to the delivery of Ushakov’s group to Severnaya Zemlya, the mission of this voyage included the study of the northern part of the Kara Sea.
On August 22, the ship approached a group of small islands, judging by their coordinates, bordering the Northern Land from the west. Behind them stretched unbroken, unbearable for "G. Sedov" ice. They decided to unload on a small island, to which clean water came close. Already on August 30, the official opening of the first North-Earth polar station took place. As it turned out later, it was 60 km from the object of study, thus the length of each route increased by 120 km of the hardest route.
Immediately, intensive work began in preparation for the campaigns, which was combined with the additional equipment of the base. The first priority was the preparation of food for forty dogs. To ensure the work front in 1931 it was supposed to create the main food depot at the nearest point on the west coast of Severnaya Zemlya, cross it and lay a depot on the east bank.
By the end of September, the preparation for the first campaign was completed. On October 1, taking 900 kg of equipment, Ushakov, Urvantsev and Zhuravlev set off. Remaining on the basis of Chodov maintained regular communication with the Great Earth. The difficulties of the path on the husky ice, the strong headwind were complemented by the lack of coherence of work of both people and untrained dogs, which was natural for the first route. At the cost of the highest exertion of strength, having overcome all obstacles, the polar explorers reached the high indigenous coast of Severnaya Zemlya and laid a depot at the point they called Cape Serp and Molot. In the same campaign, they put on the map the first 145 km of the coast and on October 10 returned to the base. Subsequent preparatory trips made Ushakov and Zhuravlev. They completed the creation of a depot at Cape Serp and Molot, during March they organized a depot north of it, opening a strait, named by them in honor of the Red Army, and also set up a warehouse on the east coast near Cape Berg, opened in 1913 by the Arctic Ocean hydrographic expedition. Front filming was provided. During the trips of Ushakov and Zhuravlev, those who remained at the base of Urvantsev and Chodov prepared all the necessary instruments for the survey.
At the end of April, Ushakov, Urvantsev and Zhuravlev set off on the first shooting route for a detour and shooting of the northern part of the earth. The route lasted 38 days. The island of Komsomolets appeared on the map - as it turned out, the northernmost island of Severnaya Zemlya. From its western coast one more fairly large island was seen, later called Pioneer Island. It became clear that the Severnaya Zemlya is not a solid land mass, but an archipelago. That year, to the north of it, an ice-free sea stretched to the horizon.
Returning to the base on May 29, the travelers, after a minimum rest, went to the next hike on June 1. Time has driven - the coming summer threatened to thaw, which could significantly complicate the movement, and most importantly - opening the sea would call into question the return of the group to the base. Overcoming all the obstacles of sharply crossed, rocky, ice-covered and loose snow, Ushakov, Urvantsev and Zhuravlev crossed the archipelago and reached its eastern shore to Cape Berg. Taking advantage of the magnificent nakedness of the geological section, Urvantsev carried out a description of the outcrops and sampling of the rocks, which, as a true geologist, brought him the deepest moral satisfaction, compensating for the additional physical stress. At Cape Berg, the group was divided. Zhuravlev, taking away the collections and bear skins left in the previous route, went alone to the base, trying to get ahead of the thaw, and Ushakov and Urvantsev with the shooting moved south. As a result of this campaign, which lasted 51 days and ended on July 20, the largest island of the archipelago, the October Revolution, was put on the map. This route turned out to be the most difficult and dangerous, demanding from the travelers tremendous exertion of all mental and physical strength. Movement by land was hampered by the rapid melting of snow. Narts dragged almost on hand. When entering fast ice, we had to walk up to the waist in the water, risking to fall into ravines, the dogs would pop up and the sleds flooded with water. During one of the crossings almost a catastrophe occurred. When crossing the next bay on ice covered with water, the travelers fell into a storm. The water level began to rise sharply, the current picked up and carried the sleds, the dogs in a panic mixed up straps, climbed on the sleds. At the cost of incredible efforts, Ushakov and Urvantsev, standing on the shoulders in the water, managed to pull the teams up to a dry patch of ice, from where the wind drove the water.Of particular difficulty was the forcing of numerous rivers and streams that turned into turbulent flows. And all this was necessary not only to overcome, but to conduct a continuous topographical survey. With incredible efforts reaching Cape Serp and Molot, the travelers saw that, fortunately, the strait separating them from the base had not opened. By this time, part of the dogs, completely exhausted, lay on the sleds, the rest barely walked. Food was running out. People, having harnessed themselves to the sled, straining their last strength, overcame numerous cracks and ravines and only, having entered the island Domashniy, fell to the ground in utter exhaustion. Plans for work in 1931 were fully implemented.With incredible efforts reaching Cape Serp and Molot, the travelers saw that, fortunately, the strait separating them from the base had not opened. By this time, part of the dogs, completely exhausted, lay on the sleds, the rest barely walked. Food was running out. People, having harnessed themselves to the sled, straining their last strength, overcame numerous cracks and ravines and only, having entered the island Domashniy, fell to the ground in utter exhaustion. Plans for work in 1931 were fully implemented.With incredible efforts reaching Cape Serp and Molot, the travelers saw that, fortunately, the strait separating them from the base had not opened. By this time, part of the dogs, completely exhausted, lay on the sleds, the rest barely walked. Food was running out. People, having harnessed themselves to the sled, straining their last strength, overcame numerous cracks and ravines and only, having entered the island Domashniy, fell to the ground in utter exhaustion. Plans for work in 1931 were fully implemented.Plans for work in 1931 were fully implemented.Plans for work in 1931 were fully implemented.


Urvantsev weighs Zhuravlev

(photo by G.A. Ushakov)


The polar explorers spent the second half of the year preparing for new hikes: they stocked up meat for dogs and themselves, prepared equipment and equipment, without stopping the planned hydrological, meteorological and magnetic observations.
In 1932 they were to map the southernmost and most distant island from the base (Bolshevik), as well as a small island to the west of the islands of the October Revolution and Komsomolets (Pioneer). In March, Ushakov and Zhuravlyov conducted a preparatory route to organize food warehouses on Bolshevik Island, and on April 13, Ushakov and Urvantsev set off on a southern shooting trip, taking with them all any suitable dogs. At first they passed along the western coast of the island of the October Revolution, repeating the survey of the last year, which turned out to be of poor quality due to the difficulty of moving to the mudslide. From the most southwestern point of the island and the entire archipelago of Cape Neupokoev for 45 days we traveled counter clockwise Bolshevik Island and put it on the map. Urvantsev’s definitions markedly clarified the results of a survey of the southern and eastern shores of the island, made in 1914 from ships by a hydrographic expedition of the Arctic Ocean. The total length of the southern route was over 1,100 km. After a rest for 2 days, Ushakov and Urvantsev for 8 days without any problems, playfully, put on the map Pioneer Island.


Northern Earth

(satellite photo)

The expedition, unprecedented in scale, originality of organization and execution, brilliantly ended. Each of its members honorably fulfilled all their duties. More than 2,200 km of the coastline arch. Northern Earth. A semi-instrumental survey was based on 15 astronomical sites, fairly evenly distributed across all routes. The map of the Arctic has acquired its modern look. In the time remaining before the arrival of the ship, Urvantsev, in a clean view, drew an archipelago map in two projections: normal conical and straightforward mercury, used during navigation.
According to V.Yu. Vize, this expedition can be attributed to the outstanding polar enterprises of our time. She played an important role in solving the problem of organizing and developing the Northern Sea Route. In addition to topographic surveys, various scientific observations were carried out, the main merit of which, of course, belongs to Urvantsev. He received the first information about the geology, climate, glaciation, hydrology of the archipelago, established the signs of the presence of a number of minerals: copper, tin, iron, oil and others. For participation in the Northland expedition Urvantsev was awarded the Order of Lenin. On August 14, 1932, the icebreaking ship “A. Sibiryakov”, who made his historic through navigation for one navigation along the Northern Sea Route, and the next day the icebreaking steamer “Rusanov”approached, which took the polar explorers to the Big Earth.
In December 1932 after the cruise of the icebreaker steamer “A. Sibiryakov”, which took place during one navigation of the Northeast Passage (Northern Sea Route), the government decided to organize regular navigation here. In this regard, the question arose of creating fuel support bases on the highway. Given the higher profitability of oil compared to coal, it was decided to begin its search in the Siberian North. Urvantsev was instructed to survey the area of ​​the Nordvik Peninsula between the Khatanga and Anabarsky bays of the Laptev Sea, where from the time of the industrialist N.S. Belkov was known outlets of salt and "oil, called black oil by the medical board". In early August 1933, an exploration and drilling expedition organized by Urvantsev set out from Arkhangelsk on one of the vessels of the First Lena Expedition. Heavy ice conditions did not allow to approach the area of work. The expedition was forced to winter 500 km from it near the islands of Samuel (now Komsomolskaya Pravda). During the wintering period, the Urvantsev organized a thousand-kilometer march on ATVI-2 ATVs across the Taimyr Peninsula with the aim of testing new domestic vehicles. The hike showed the excellent fitness of these machines to work in the Far North. After wintering, Urvantsev returned to Leningrad, the expedition organized by him continued to work in the Nordvik region without his participation.


6 line Vasilyevsky Island house 29. In this house in the apartment 28 lived Urvantsev at the time of 1934

In the following years, Urvantsev worked as chief consultant of the Mining and Geological Administration of Glavsevmorput, deputy and acting director of the Arctic Institute. In 1935, he became one of the first in the country without a thesis defense; he became a doctor of geological and mineralogical sciences.
In 1938, Urvantsev was repressed. He was sentenced to 15 years for sabotage and complicity in counter-revolutionary activities. Two years after the appeal to the Supreme Court of the USSR, he was released, and then again convicted in the same case for eight years. From 1940 to 1944, Urvantsev was first in Aktyubinsk, and then without a visit in Norilsk, where he conducted geological studies, but under escort. In 1945, he was released early. After liberation, Urvantsev led the geological service of the Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical Combine, was engaged in teaching activities. In 1954 he was fully rehabilitated.


Portrait N.N. Urvantsev in the hall VNIIOkeangeologiya

From 1955 until the end of his life, Nikolay Nikolayevich worked at the Research Institute for Arctic Geology in Leningrad. In 1958 he was awarded the Grand Gold Medal of the Geographical Society of the USSR for outstanding scientific works in the field of geographical sciences, and in 1963 he was awarded the Second Order of Lenin. The main scientific works of Urvantsev are devoted to the geology of Taimyr, Severnaya Zemlya, and the north of the Siberian platform. He is the author of several popular science books.
According to the testament, the urn with the ashes of Nikolai Nikolayevich Urvantsev was buried in Norilsk at a “zero” picket. A few months later the urn with the ashes of his wife Elizabeth Ivanovna was buried there.
Cape and bay on Oleniy Island in Minin's skerries. Named in 1956, the by Soviet hydrograph V.A.Troitsky
Mountain on Taimyr south of the Faddey gulf.


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