Caspian Lowland

Caspian Lowland

 

a lowland north of the Caspian Sea, on the southeastern East European (or Russian) Plain (RSFSR) and in western Kazakhstan. On the west the Caspian Lowland is bounded by the Stavropol’ and Ergeni uplands and the lower course of the Volga, on the north by the Obshchii Syrt Uplands, on the northeast and east by the Cisural Plateau, and on the southeast by the scarp of the Ustiurt Plateau and the Mangyshlak Peninsula.

The lowland has an area of roughly 200,000 sq km. The low, level surface of the inner coastal region lies from 0 to —28 m below sea level, while the terrain rises to 100 m above sea level along the outer edges. The Volga-Akhtuba floodplain occupies the western regions. The lowland includes the deltas of the Volga, Terek, and Sulak rivers and the lower courses of the Ural and Emba. The main part of the Caspian Lowland corresponds to the Caspian syneclise, a deep tectonic basin on the southeastern frontier of the East European platform. The plain is broken by minor rises and salt domes, including Bol’shoe Bogdo (149 m high), near Lake Baskunchak. During the Anthropogenic period the plain was covered by the ancient Caspian transgressions; the surface is composed of clay and loam beds in the north and sand in the south. Typical relief elements are the Baer Hills near the Volga River delta and the sinks and ravines west of the delta.

The Caspian Lowland has a dry, continental climate with a relatively severe, snowless winter; the average January temperature, low for this latitude, ranges from —14°C in the north to —8°C on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The lowland has a hot summer, with average July temperatures from 22°C in the north to 24°C in the south, and little precipitation—less than 200 mm a year in the south and east. Desert landscapes predominate in the eastern interior near the sea, while semidesert landscapes prevail in the north, west, and southwest. Pasturelands make up most of the agricultural land. Melons, fruit, berries, and vegetables are cultivated on the Volga-Akhtuba floodplain. There are oil and gas deposits, in particular, the Ural-Emba oil and gas region; common salt is obtained from Lakes El’ton and Baskunchak.

REFERENCES

Iugo-Vostok Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR. Moscow, 1971.
Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1969. (Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.)

N. A. GVOZDETSKII

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