Turgai Plateau

Turgai Plateau


(Turgai Tableland), a plateau-like uplift in the northwestern Kazakh SSR. The Turgai Plateau is located between the Southern Urals and the Mugodzhar Range in the west and the Kazakh Melkosopochnik in the east. It extends 630 km north and south and approximately 300 km east and west, with elevations of 200–300 m. The Turgai Depression extends along the plateau’s axis.

In its tectonic structure, the Turgai Plateau represents an epi-Hercynian cratonic formation with a relatively shallow Paleozoic basement. It corresponds to the Turgai Trough, which connects the Western Siberian Platform with the Turan Platform, and to the northern projection of the Turan Platform. The surface is composed of horizontally disposed marine and continental clay and sand deposits of the Paleogene and Neogene. The northern plateau is weakly dissected, with low hills, ridges, and shallow lake basins. The southern plateau is dissected by a system of deep depressions in table-like uplands. The plain has mesas and is cut by a network of ravines and valleys formed by dried-up rivers. Salt lakes are found in gently sloped sinks.

The climate of the Turgai Plateau is sharply continental and dry, with harsh winters and high summer temperatures; it is increasingly arid to the south. The northern section of the plateau is part of the steppe zone. The plateau’s southern chernozem and dark chestnut soils support dry farming, and virgin and long-fallow lands have been brought under cultivation. The southern plateau belongs to the semidesert zone, and is used for pasture-land.

The Turgai Plateau contains large deposits of magnetite, including the Sokolovskoe, Sarbaiskoe, and Kacharskoe deposits, as well as bog iron ores, bauxites, and coal.