Friday, 14 September 2007

Elburz Mountains

Today Mark has cycled into the western end of the Elburz Mountain range. They are clearly visible here on the satellite image rising up south of the Caspian Sea.. Here you can see another satellite view of the Elburz capped with snow, looking south from the Caspian towards them. There is also a very good description of their relief on the same page.

In common with most of the mountains in Iran, their trend is north west to south east and they are made up of sediments (laid down in a sea now 'squeezed' out of existence), folded up by the collision of two massive crustal plates . To the north of Mark today, the summits rise to 3000 metres and they will get higher as he heads towards Tehran.

In winter, those kinds of altitudes guarantee cold temperatures with lots of snow. The image on the left is of Dizin, an Elburz Mountain ski resort which according to Wikipedia " was established in 1979 by the Islamic Ministry of Tourism straight after the Iranian revolution and has a reputation for excellent snow, because of its altitude and the north facing slopes. And because of the altitude, the ski season in Dizin also lasts longer than European ski resorts "

While browsing around on the Internet, I came across this really interesting photo of the area on the the USGS website. On this image vegetation appears in red.....

There is a good explanation given for the pattern which is shown... "The Elburz mountains run parallel to the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, and these mountains act as a barrier to rain clouds moving southward; as the clouds rise in altitude to cross the mountains they drop their moisture. This abundant rainfall supports a heavy rainforest (the bright red area) on the northern slopes. The valley to the south receives little precipitation because of this rain-shadow effect of the mountains. ".... hence the lush green on the Google image at the top of this posting.

I really recommend you link to the USGS page and explore the map and the information which is provided. There are hotspots on the map with lots of detailed information about farming in the valleys - just like the one Mark cycled through today. It is also possible to look at how landcover changed in the area between 1977 and 1987.

'Back on the road' again......Mark will almost certainly have cycled past this feature, known as the Zanjan - Tabriz fault, either today or yesterday. It is visual proof of the stress which the earth's crust is under in this part of the world.

Finally, I notice that the GPS tracker places Mark at Takestan this evening. Here is a lovely sunset view I found on Flickr of "sunset near Takestan, Iran" ...

I hope the view is this good from Mark's tent tonight!

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