Armenian Highland

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Armenian Highland


the central of three Southwest Asiatic highlands; located mainly in Turkey, partly in the USSR and Iran. The part of the Armenian Highland that is in the USSR (the so-called Transcaucasian Highland) occupies all of the Armenian SSR, the southern Georgian SSR, and the western Azerbaijan SSR. In the broad sense of the word the Armenian Highland also embraces the Lesser Caucasus, the Armenian Taurus, and the Kurdish Mountains, taking in an area of approximately 400,000 sq km. In terms of structural geology, the Armenian Highland is a segment of the Mediterranean alpide volcanic zone of folding with an extensive distribution of thick sedimentary layers from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras and intrusions of granitoid and ultrabasite rock mainly from the Upper Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Neocene periods. In the highland there are numerous, often large deposits of chromite—for example, in Guleman (Turkey); copper pyrite ore, such as in Murgul (Turkey) and Kvartskhanra (USSR); arsenic, in Kagizman (Turkey); iron, gold, semimetallic ores, manganese, and rock salt in Kulp (Turkey); coal in Oltu (Turkey); and manifestations of petroleum and natural gas. The topography consists of Neocene and Anthropocene lava plateaus topped with volcanic cones, which were uplifted by the most recent vaulting movements, and tectonic basins which remain from a general upheaval of the basin structure and which are divided by folding fault-block mountain ranges. Many mountain ranges (Dzhavakhet, Arsiianskii, Ağri Dağ) were formed by chains of volcanoes which sprang up along large fractures. The highest volcanoes are Great Ararat(5, 165 m), Sabalan (4,821 m), Süphan (4,434 m), and Aragats (4,090 m). In historical times (1441) only the Nemrut volcano has been active. The largest nonvolcanic mountain ranges of the highland are, in the Soviet part, the Zangezur and, outside the USSR, the Palandoken, Bingöl, Ala Dag, Qotur, Kara Dag, Mishab, Karabakh, Gegam, and Bozqush. Characteristic of the highland are tectonic basins, parts of which are occupied by lakes (Van, Sevan, Urmia) with bottoms at altitudes from 700 to 2,000 m. Major hollows include Ararat, Erzurum, Mu, and Tabriz. The most extensive plateaus are the Kars, Ardahan, and Dzhavakhet. The climate of the Armenian Highland is subtropical continental. Annual precipitation averages 300–800 mm in the mountains and 150–300 mm in the basins. Minimum precipitation occurs in the winter and maximum in the spring. Winters are long; there is frost in the mountains and snow in the north and west. Average temperature in January ranges from-3° to -15° C; in July the average is 15° to 20° C and up to 25° C in the basins. The upper courses of the Kura, Aras (in Russian, Araks) Euphrates, and Great Zab (left tributary of the Tigris) rivers, as well as the large lakes Van, Urmia (saltwater), and Sevan, are all located in the Armenian Highland. There are many mineral springs, including thermal springs. The basins have arid steppes and mountainous semideserts. Soils are light chestnut and brown, ranging to sierozems. There are zones of river meadows and brushwood along the watercourses and densely populated oases in the irrigated areas. From 800 to 1,400 meters the humid slopes have mountainous steppes with dark chestnut soils and chernozems; forests (oak, pine), brushwood overgrowth of the shibliak type, and stands of juniper are encountered in the lightly podzolized brown forest soils between 1,000 and 2,300 meters. Thickets of low-growing pillowlike thorny brushwood are widely distributed in the rocky soils on the less humid slopes. Regions of alpine meadows occur at elevations of 2,000 to 3,000 m, and above this zone craggy landscapes predominate. The summits of Great Ararat, Süphan, and Kaputdzhukh are covered with permanent snow and glaciers. There are many rodents and reptiles in the Armenian Highland; the roe deer, bezoar goat, mouflon, bear, leopard, and striped hyena are also encountered.


Magak’ian, 1. G. “Armeniia ν sisteme tsentral’nogo Sredizemnomor’ia.” Doklady AN Armianskoi SSR, 1966, vol. 42, no. 4.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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