Crimean Mountains


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Crimean Mountains

 

mountains in the south of the Crimean Peninsula (Crimea). Length, 150 km; width, up to 50 km. They consist of the Glavnyi (southern) Ridge, or the Iaila, which stretches along the coast of the Black Sea, and two foreridges of the cuesta type. These parallel the laila to the north, slope gently to the northwest and north, and drop abruptly to the south, toward the laila. In the west the laila is a mountain ridge with a plateau-like summit plain. Its individual parts have their own names: Ai-Petri laila, Yalta, Nikita, and Babugan-Iaila. In the east, the laila disintegrates into more or less isolated plateau-like massifs, including Chatyrdag, Demerdzhi, Dolgorukii laila, Mount Tyrke, and Karabi-Iaila. The highest peak of the laila as a whole is Mount Roman-Kosh with an altitude of 1,545 m (in the Babugan-Iaila). The foreridges of the Crimean Mountains are not as high; the southern foreridge rises up to an absolute elevation of 550–750 m and the northern ridge, to 350 m.

In geological terms, the Crimean Mountains are a section of the Alpine Folded Area of Southern Europe, in contrast to the plains area of the Crimean Peninsula, which has a platform structure and is related to the Scythian Platform. The laila corresponds to the axial zone of the Crimean anticlinorium, and the cuestas are the monoclines of its northern wing. The southern wing of the anticlinorium, as a result of recent subsidences, has sunk below the level of the Black Sea. Movements along the faults are continuing there, causing earthquakes. The foothills of the ridges, the southern Crimean coast (aside from the region of Feodosiia and Sudak), and a significant portion of the foothills to the south of Simferopol’ are composed of heavily folded dark clay shales with intercalations of sandstones from the Tauride series (Triassic-Lower Jurassic). The higher portions of the slopes are composed of clay and sandstone deposits of the Middle Jurassic, and the summit plain of the laila is made up predominantly of limestones of the Upper Jurassic in which denuded karst has developed intensely with corries, sinkholes, basins, wells, shafts, and caves. The sides of the laila plateau are steep and precipitous and in places are broken by canyons. Numerous slides and cave-ins of fragments of Jurassic limestones have developed along the southern scarp. Among the Tauride series and the rocks of the Middle Jurassic, there are many small bodies of volcanic rock (the mountains Aiudag, Uragu, and Chamny-Burun). Volcanic formations are also present (the Karadag mountain group). The northern foreridges of the Cri-mean Mountains are composed of Cretaceous, Paleogene, and Neocene deposits.

The uplifting of the Crimean Mountains initially as an island occurred at the end of the Cretaceous and the Eocene. In the middle of the Neocene, the level surface of the laila was formed. Up to the Neocene, the mountains extended 20–30 km further south than the present shoreline of the Black Sea. In the Neocene they assumed the features of the present asymmetrical structure.

The climate on the lower portion of the southern slope of the laila is of the Mediterranean type, with a mild winter (a mean temperature of 1°-4°C along the coast) and a very warm summer (mean July temperature, 24°C). The summer and autumn are sunny. The annual amount of precipitation is 600 mm (maximum in the winter), and to the east there is less. On the laila plateau the summer is cool (in July the mean temperature is 15°-16°C), and the winter is not very harsh (from — 1° to —4°C; in the east of the plateau the temperature is lower). The annual amount of precipitation in the west is 1,000–1,200 mm and 500–700 mm in the east; the winds are strong. Maximum precipitation is during the winter in the west and in the summer in the east.

The rivers are fed by atmospheric precipitation and underground (karst) waters. Flooding occurs in the winter and spring, with a stable low-water level in the summer. The landscapes on the slopes of the laila are mountain-forest (in the lower part of the southern slope, of the Mediterranean type). Oak and beech predominate in the forests, as well as Crimean pine on the southern slope; the soils are brown mountain-forest. On the cuesta ridges there are forest-shrub and southern forest-steppe landscapes. A karst landscape is characteristic for the summit plain of the laila with corrie fields, rocky mountain meadows and forest steppes on the high massifs, and mountain-forest-meadow-steppe and forest-steppe vegetation on the lower ones, with mountain-meadow chernozem-like soils and mountain chernozems (in the east).

N. A. GVOZDETSKII and M. V. MURATOV

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