|Autor: Stefan Lang (Germany)|
The Charyn Canyon / Dolina Zamkov area is situated in southeast Kazakhstan about 200 km east of Almaty on the north edge of Torajgir Mountains. Charyn River is running in a deep canyon with bizarre rock monuments in shapes of castles and towers on top of steep rocky walls. Dolina Zamkov and other dry side canyons run down to Charyn Canyon. The Torajgir Mountain have got elevations of more than 2000 m and are one of several southeast Kazakh mountain ranges north of Tjan Shan.
The walls of Charyn Canyon in Dolina Zamkov area show rock storeys of
different ages and different origin. Dark rocks at the bottom of Charyn Canyon
and in the lower part of Dolina Zamkov are volcanic lava rocks. These are the
oldest rocks in this area. On top of these rocks are layers of much younger
rocks. These red cliffs (i.e. the walls of Dolina Zamkov), consist of solid
gravel which was deposited by debris flows. The plains around Charyn Canyon are
covered with grey gravel which was deposited by rivers, and dust which was
deposited by wind. Sand and gravel on the bottom of Charyn Canyon was deposited
by Charyn River. Some gravel on terraces above Charyn River is evidence of
Charyn's former river bed.
Geologic sketch of Charyn Canyon / Dolina Zamkov area.
1. About 280 million years ago volcanos erupted in Southeast
Kazakhstan. Lava flows flooded the area. Volcanic particles like
"bombs" and ashes were thrown out of the craters and deposited.
Sometimes hot clouds of gas and dust came down the slopes of the volcanos and
2. Millions of years later, the Tjan Shan Mountains were built by the force of the collision of India with Asia. Erosion began in the mountains. Debris flows came down the valleys and were deposited in the plains of Southeast Kazakhstan.
3. Later braided rivers crossed the plain and deposited
gravel. Dust was blown there from the deserts by the wind.
Map of Central Asia about 280 million yearsago redrawn from Zonenshain et al., 1990: Geology of the USSR: A Plate-Tectonic Synthesis. In B. M. Page [Ed.], 1990. Geodynamic Series 21.).
Square: Charyn Canyon / Dolina Zamkov area.
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