Central Siberian Plateau

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Central Siberian Plateau


a vast plateau in the central part of northern Asia, in the RSFSR, including the Yakut ASSR, Krasnoiarsk Krai, and Irkutsk Oblast. The plateau is bounded by the Vostochnyi Saian and the mountains of the Baikal Region and northern Transbaikalia in the south, the Western Siberian Lowland in the west, and the Northern Siberian Lowland and the Central Yakut Plain in the north and east. Covering an area of roughly 1.5 million sq km, the plateau lies on the Siberian Platform at an average elevation of 500–700 m.

Most of the plateau is located in the basins of the Nizhniaia Tunguska, Podkamennaia Tunguska, and Angara rivers and along the upper reaches of the Viliui River. Here, the terrain is level, with broad, flat interfluves. The highest areas are in the northwest, where the Putorana Plateau rises to 1,500–1,700 m. The Viliui Plateau and the flat interfluves in the upper reaches of the Lena River have elevations of 900–1,100 m. The most important mineral resources are nickel and copper ores (around Norilsk), iron ore (the Angara-Ilim region and the Angara-Pit basin), coal (Tunguska, Cheremkhovo, and Kansk basins), graphite, rock salt, and natural gas.

The plateau’s rivers drain into the Arctic Ocean. Most of them are full rivers flowing through deep, narrow valleys; they have swift currents and many rapids. The largest rivers are the Nizhniaia Tunguska, Podkamennaia Tunguska, Angara, Lena (with the Viliui), Khatanga, Anabar, and Olenek.

The climate is harshly continental, with long cold winters; the mean January temperature ranges from –20°C in the southwest to -44°C in the northeast. Summers are warm, with mean July temperatures varying from 12°C in the north to 20°C in the south. The annual precipitation is 200–350 mm in the east and 400–500 mm in the west, increasing to 700–800 mm on the Putorana Plateau. Permafrost is found over large areas.

Most of the plateau lies in the zone of light coniferous taiga. Larch forests of dahurian larch in the east and Siberian larch in the west grow on weakly podzolized or soddy-podzolic soils. In the north the forests occur on gley-podzolic soils. Pine and pine-larch forests on soddy-podzolic soils are widespread in the Angara River basin in the south. North of the Podkamennaia Tunguska the vegetation consists mostly of sparse, low-growing marshy larch woodlands. In the south, tracts of forest-steppe are found in the taiga of the Kan and Irkutsk-Cheremkhovo depressions and in the basin of the Kuda River. The largest tracts are the Krasnoiarsk and Kan forest-steppes and the Balagansk Steppes. The northern parts of the Putorana and Syverma plateaus and the upper slopes of the Anabar Massif are occupied by large expanses of alpine tundra, which also occurs in parts of the Lena-Angara Plateau and on the Enisei Ridge above 1,000 m.

The plateau is inhabited by both tundra species, such as the lemming, arctic fox, blue hare, and reindeer, and taiga animals, including elk, musk deer, brown bears, and wolverines. Common birds are the capercaillie and hazel hen. The rivers are rich in fish, including Siberian sturgeon, whitefish, and taimen. The squirrel, sable, and muskrat are valuable fur-bearing animals.


Voskresenskii, S. S. Geomorfologiia Sibiri. Moscow, 1962.
Sredniaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1964. (Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.)
Ravniny i gory Sibiri: (Geomorfologiia SSSR). Moscow, 1975.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Most of them are in Western Siberia, between the Ural Mountains and the Central Siberian Plateau. Eastern Siberia is one area where little exploration has taken place.
Russia has proven oil reserves of 60 bn barrels mostly located in West Siberia, between the Urals and the central Siberian plateau. In the 1980s this "Russian Core" made the Soviet Union the world's biggest oil producer, allowing for peak output of 12.5m b/d in 1988.

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