The underwater world of the local reservoirs is a lacuna for the majority of residents of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Many of them have only a general idea about hydrology, both in the region and in the city of Krasnoyarsk. And the information about the depth of the Yenisei near Krasnoyarsk which does not exceed 4-5 meters is very surprising! Hundreds of small country lakes and small rivers, citizens of Krasnoyarsk pass along every day, are underexplored in hydrographic terms. A great deal of undiscovered and unknown is around us!

Of course, the reservoirs of Siberia are not populated by colorful and diverse flora and fauna. Our rivers, lakes and reservoirs cannot compete with the tropical seas. However, Siberian nature is exclusive. Unique are the channels of the Sayan Mountain Rivers with their bizarre underwater cliffs polished by the purest mountain waters. The Arctic expanses of the Yenisei are unique, which hundreds of kilometers before flowing into the Kara Sea takes on the features of a sea reservoir, where the river spills dozens of kilometers, and the opposite shore is not visible, and storm waves even pose a serious threat to shipping.


 Lower Yenisei 

The Yenisei and its tributaries have long been developed in a navigable way. Numerous hydraulic structures were built on the river, countless equipment and vehicles went under the water, as a result of the construction of hydroelectric power stations, dozens of villages were flooded. Exploration of the region extended along the rivers. The most important here was the Northern Sea Route. Due to its favorable hydrographic features, the Yenisei allows passing ships far upstream (ships with low draft can rise to the Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric station). The pages of the navigation history on the Yenisei are filled with the most striking events - from sailing Kochi and vessels of the Great Northern Expedition, organized by Peter the Great, to the first commercial passages of the XIX century and key episodes in the development of the Soviet Arctic.


Sea ship "Victor Astafiev" in the middle reaches of the Yenisei 

The Great Patriotic War did not leave out the Yenisei River. The events of 1942 and the attack of the German cruiser “Admiral Scheer” on the port of Dixon, as well as other heroic episodes, are well known. The activity of German submarines remained in the Yenisei Gulf until 1944. Civilian ships were killed on enemy mines, crews of submarines made landings in a number of settlements located on the shores of the gulf. In addition to the remote northern regions, echoes of the war can be found in the Krasnoyarsk waters of the Yenisei. For example, in the area of ​​the railway bridge, there is a disabled during the Great Patriotic War airplane which was delivered to the Soviet Union as part of the US land-lease program. All this is of great historical interest.

The Reshetnev University * project on a comprehensive study of the underwater world of the Krasnoyarsk Territory began with a historical study. Now it is implemented jointly by three institutes - the Institute for Space Research and High Technology, the Institute of Social Engineering and the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications. Scientists are trying to answer the question - what is there, under water? The study of the water area of the Yenisei River, its tributaries, as well as the river systems of other river basins (Ob’, Pyasina), lakes is of great scientific interest.

Yenisei Siberia through the Northern Sea Route and its river section - the Yenisei River, maintained trade relations with the outside world long before the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. This is an important milestone in the history of the development of the Northern Sea Route! In 2015–2016, 2018–2019 expeditions were conducted to the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, during which the locations of a number of sunken ships were established, including the English ship “Thames”, which first reached the mouth of the Kureyka River with a cargo of English goods. In the summer of 1878 the ship sank. The results of our scientists' research on this topic were published by the University of Cambridge Publishing **. 


Expedition to the Arctic

The Reshetnev University has one of the best side-scan sonar in the region, allowing you to capture the bottom in the highest detail. The vast experience of the project team with sonar equipment was appreciated by both state hydrographic enterprises and private diving companies. So, in the autumn of last year, exploration works were carried out in the middle of the Yenisei area in order to identify objects that impede navigation. Objects previously unknown to the hydrographic service were found, including a large non-self-propelled vessel.


Sunken vessel 

In addition, a series of field trips to the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir was made in order to examine the location of the underwater power cable. The University staff introduced the representatives of industrial partners with the available sonar instruments and existing software. Based on these recommendations, the company purchased side-scan sonar operating at a frequency of 450 GHz and allowing visualization of the bottom at depths of more than one hundred meters. During the next trip satisfactory images of the bottom of the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir were obtained.


The process of shooting the bottom of the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir

The project team successfully collaborates with the Siberian Federal University and the Krasnoyarsk Territory branch of the Russian Geographical Society. Among promising short-term projects is a survey of the Abakan Canal to identify previously unknown anthropogenic objects, some of which have potential historical value. This study is still interesting as a park-museum for the development of the Krasnoyarsk North will be created on Molokov Island. Among the exhibits will be objects related to the history of polar aviation. There was a seaport on the island in the 1930–1940s, from where air communication with the northern settlements was organized. Several aircraft crashed and sank in the lower head of the island area. Their discovery will help to replenish knowledge of the important history of the development of the Krasnoyarsk polar aviation. The project team participates in hydrographic work in the Yenisei North under the grant of the Russian Federation President.


Acoustic image from a depth of 87 meters.

Another achievement of the team was the creation of a prototype of an underwater robot, which in the near future will allow you to take pictures and videos of underwater objects. The data collected and processed using high-performance computing equipment will be put into a single geographic information system.


* Reshetnev Siberian State University of Science and Technology


** Goncharov, A., & Orel, I. (2020). Thames meets the Enisei: Captain Joseph Wiggins’s expedition to the Kara Sea and Enisei, 1876–1877. Polar Record, 1-16. DOI:10.1017/S0032247420000066 //