The most important discovery was the oceanic depth of the Arctic Sea, where for hundreds of miles this unknown ocean disclosed a depth of oyer two miles. Naturally the absence of land limited the phases of the scientific work of the expeditionary force, which devoted itself to recording the phenomena of the air and the sea.
Nansen in his separate journey utilized his brief opportunities in Franz Josef Land so successfully that his contributions to the geology of that region are of no small importance.
The world has looked forward with a degree of impatience to the publication of the scientific results of this expedition, and now is favored with the first volume, a beautiful quarto of some 479 pages, with 46 fine plates. It consists of a series of memoirs on the building of the ship, on the birds of the air, on the crustacean forms of sea life and a geological study of the southern part of the archipelago of Franz Josef Land; It is a striking tribute to English-speaking scientists that the work will appear in English text only. Although printed in Christiana, such has been the vigilance of the editors that typographical errors are comparatively few.
The account by Colin Archer of the construction of the Fram is not without interest, in view of the fact that this vessel was built on novel lines calculated to cause the ice to meet a sloping surface, so that, pressing down under the bilge, it would cause the vessel to rise and thus insure its immunity from destruction.
Archer says: "In order to utilize this principle, it was decided to depart entirely from the usual deep-bilged form of section and to adopt a shape which would afford the ice no point of attack normal to the ship's side, but would, as the horizontal pressure increased, force the attacking floes to divide under the ship's bottom, lifting her as described above. . . . Plane or concave surfaces were avoided as much as possible by giving her round and full lines. This, while increasing the power to resist pressure from outside, also had the advantage of making it easy for the ice to glide along the bottom in any direction."
As great length is an element of weakness, the Fram's length was cut down as much as possible, with a tendency to make its form circular or oval. Various expedients were adopted to reduce the dead weight of the ship by a judicious arrangement of materials. While economizing weight, the cargo-carrying capacity of the ship could not be too much reduced, and the great strength of the ship must be preserved. Inasmuch as the broadside of the ship, both structurally and from its shape, is its weakest part, it was necessary to adopt extraordinary measures to strengthen it. This was done largely by adding stays of yellow pine placed nearly at right angles to the ship's sides, and securely fastened with wooden knees. These were supplemented with upright stanchions tied by iron straps.