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Maps of Wrangel Island, Russia

The last remaining resident of Wrangel Island, Vasilina Alpaun, was mauled to death by a polar bear in October 2003.

Wrangel Island is located some 90 miles off the coast of Siberia in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Bering Strait. Its an important place for many reasons. Mammoths once roamed here.The island is a haven for huge numbers of walrus, polar bear, and snow goose. Muskox have been successfully reintroduced here. The island's geology plays a key roll in the big-picture tectonic history. Vast oil and gas resources lay just offshore. Only scientists, the Russian military, feral park rangers, and a few tourists visit the place each year. Its a place deserving of a good map.

Hints of the island's existence first appeared on maps in the mid-1700s. By the 1830s, its location had been well established. By the 1880s, the island is fully explored and its geographic features named. Interesting that some maps that show detailed coastlines don't show Wrangel Island at all.

The island was "discovered" and "claimed" several times by Russia (1924), Canada (1921), England (1866?), and USA (1881?). Historical maps show it as:

Tikegen Land (Sgt. Stepan Andreyev 1764)

Kellett Land or Kellet's Land (Capt. Henry Kellett 1849, Capt. George DeLong 1879)

Wrangel Land (Royal Geographical Society-General Hauslab report, 1875)

Wrangell's Land (Capt. George DeLong 1867)

New Columbia USRC Corwin 1881)

Wrangel Island (after Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangel c. 1880)

As far as I can tell, there are no modern, comprehensive natural history maps of Wrangel Island (Ostra Vrangelya). I'm thinking of creating one. It would highlight the physical geography, summarize the geology, and depict other scientifically-important stuff. The collected maps, images, and sketches shown below will inform my new map. Its everything I could find. I hope it is helpful to you in your own work.

Commonly Used Russian Words with English Translations

gora = mountain

zaliv = bay or gulf

kosa = spit

bukhta = lagoon (or bay)

mys = cape

ostrov = island

Some of my notes - a quick-and-dirty compilation map from various sources.

Mia Bennett's location map of Wrangel Island and various sea routes.

Islands of the Russian arctic constitute some of the least visited places on Earth.

A portion of a Russian navigational chart from the declassified series of maps on the Arctic (c. 1993) available from the NGA website.

This standard topographic map (20m contour interval) of the island was surprisingly difficult to find. Thanks, Craig!

From an article by Christopher Todd in Spotlight.,%20RAOUL%20%20%20VOL.%201_0009.pdf

Polish Institute of Oceanology website for image:

First landing on Wrangel Island by Americans.

W. Johnson and A.K. Johnson (1906) from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Excerpt from larger map.

U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office (1946)

Alexander Keith Johnson (1893)

Benedetto Marzolla (1844). No Wrangel here.

Nicholas Desmarest (1827). Unclear if Wrangel is depicted here.

MODIS satellite image of Wrangel, sea ice, and polynyas.

Landsat image from Wikipedia Commons (excerpt from next image above).

Satellite image snapshot of Chukchi Sea chlorophyll in open leads around Wrangel Island. Light gray is land. Dark gray is sea ice. Blue is open water.

National Geographic's perspective map that accompanied a recent article.

Mammoth researcher's map of field sites on the island (Vartanyan et al., 1993).

Tactical Pilotage Chart C-8A by the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency.

Annotated pilotage chart by

Map by Bjarn Mamen (1916). Caption: "March 12 we got away again at dawn...and made such good progress that at one p.m. we landed on Icy Spit, on the northeast side of Wrangell Island. It is perhaps easier to imagine than to describe our feelings of relief at being once again on terra firma...after two months of drifting and traveling on the ice!!"

Portion of the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map by CAVM Team (2003).

Map from a hiking trip posted on the blog Ultima Thule.

Wikimapia map.

Excerpt: National Defense Mapping Agency Chart #96720 Approaches to Ostrov Vrangelya (Wrangel Island)

Geologic compilation map by Kosko et al. Professor Elizabeth Miller (Stanford University) is the authority on Chukchi region geology. She has ongoing projects on both the US and Russian sides (ie GSA Special Paper 360). "The dark rocks on the south side of the Island are Triassic turbidites, the whitish stripes are Paleozoic carbonates. The structure of the island is basically an anticline, with Precambrian basement rocks exposed in the middle of the island." - Quote from Miller's website

Geology map, but not sure who the author is.

Irving C. Rosse's map from The First Landing on Wrangel Island with Some Remarks on the Northern Inhabitants (America Geographical Journal, v. XV, 1883).


The newly constructed Zvyozdny airstrip pointed out on this map by Business Insider.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

Eric Cline's map from the back cover(?) of a Beringia Heritage Program publication I found in UAA's ARLIS Library stacks. Search on "Beringia Heritage".

This map labels the "Anadyr Range". I've not seen that on many maps.

A older conceptual map showing the maximum extent of glaciation during the Pleistocene (teal blue). According to this, the northern tundra lowlands on Wrangel (Academy Tundra) were glaciated.

Excerpt from Philippe Buache and Joesph N. de L'Isle 1852 map of the North Pacific. Unclear if Wrangel is depicted here. It may be one of the islands shown off "Chalaginskoi".

Wrangel might be the island depicted north of "Cap Chalaginskoi". Excerpt from Joseph de L'Isle, 1752.

Speculative map of North Pacific-Bering Strait-Chukchi-Arctic Ocean region by Thomas Jefferys (1768), heavily influenced by maps by Bruache and de L'Isle. No Wrangel Island shown here.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

Wrangel does appear here, I think.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

Cruise track of the M.S. Elisif by Olaf Swenson in the late 1920's. North Cape is called Cape Schmidt today (Mys Schmidta).

From Vilhjalmur Stefansson's The Adventure of Wrangel Island (1926).

No Wrangel Island on this map.

No Wrangel Island on this map.

Philippe Buache concept of the Earth's watersheds (1756). Ambitious, interesting, but difficult to read.

Wrangel Island is probably the "Mountains seen from Jakan". Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty (1835).

Captain James Cook (1784) voyage turned back just short of Wrangel.

Wrangel Island is likely "Extensive land with high peaks" and "Land reported to Wrangell". Hugh J. Johnson (1856). Image rotated 180 degrees.

The Chukotka peninsula is depicted in a strangely bulbous way here that makes me think that cartographers had some information about Wrangel Island, but were not yet able to map it accurately. G.F. Muller and Santini-Remondini (1784).

While the islands of the Bering Strait are well accounted for, Wrangel is absent...or is it? Didier Robert de Vaugondy (1774). Image rotated 180 degrees.

Wrangel is crudely drawn and claimed here for America as "Kellet Land". Other exploration routes are noted. Unknown cartographer (1875).

Map from a book on the Karluk.

Wrangel appears in this excerpt from an 1868 map by the prolific German cartographer August H. Petermann, one of many he produced in an ongoing effort to encourage exploration of the Arctic. This guy made some of the world's great exploration maps, even if some of his geographical concepts were flawed. Image rotated.

No Wrangel here, but the "Asiatic Pole of Greatest Cold" is! So that's where it is.

"Wrangel Land" is shown partially mapped on this 1875 concept of polar currents. Image rotated.

"Peaks" at upper left are likely those of Wrangel Island as observed in 1850 by the crew of Captain McClure aboard the HMS Investigator. Map published in 1851.

Portion of a Landsat image by Rotated image.

TM 7-4-2 image from Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF), Path 095/Row 010.

"To the east of Wrangel, along the edge of a bank of clouds, lies a much smaller landmass: Herald Island. The swirls are cloud eddies caused by the island's obstruction of air flow according to NASA."

- Elizabeth Miller's description of this August 2008 Landsat image

Leads to follow up on.

Contact Information for Wrangel Island

Online Map Service

Travel Blogs & Articles

Online Historical Maps of the Region

Wikiwand Natural History (in Russian)


Kosko et al., 1993, Geology of Wrangel Island, Between Chukchi and East Siberian Seas, Northeastern Russia, Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 461, 101 pgs.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller's page (Stanford University)

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