Land of ten thousand lakes
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Land of ten thousand lakes

July 31, 2020

The unique natural object formed from the lava of a supervolcano in the Mesozoic era.

Vasily Sarana, an employee of the Taimyr Nature Reserves Directorate, Candidate of Geological Sciences, spoke about the appearance of the amazing natural object on our planet – the Putorana Plateau. People who first come here are surprised at the grandeur of the canyons, comparing them with the Norwegian fjords or the Grand Canyon. And of course, even experienced tourists are impressed by the beauty of many reservoirs. The Putorana plateau is called the land of ten thousand lakes and a thousand waterfalls. By the number of waterfalls, it ranks first in Russia.

“The first question I hear from many is “How did the water create such gigantic and deep canyons?” – the scientist writes on the website of the Taimyr Nature Reserves. “But let us figure it out whether it is water that created the canyons or something else”.

If you look at the Putorana plateau from the space, the “centrifugal” pattern of the rivers’ net, represented by narrow and deep canyons, is immediately striking. In the very center of the picture is Lake Ayan. It is near the central part of the plateau – its highest point – Mount Kamen, 1701 meters high. Such a structure of the rivers’ net is a rare phenomenon on the planet, Vasily Sarana explains. How did it happen?

About 250 million years ago, on the the plateau’s site, there was a huge depression (sinicleise), at the bottom of which a giant supervolcano erupted. That time in the history of the Earth is called the Great Extinction: about 95 percent of the living organisms that inhabited our planet died. For thousands of years (!) the fiery lava spread and solidified, gradually filling the cavity. As a result, a huge geological structure was formed, stretching for hundreds of kilometers – a kind of puff pastry cake stuffed with basalts, tuffs, and ash.

“The earth is a mobile creature, and it is not in its rules to doze for a long time,” Vasily Sarana continues. “The internal (tectonic) forces of the planet raised the “pie”, lifting its firmament to the sky. The center of the uplift was in the area of ​​Lake Ayan. Gradually rising, the “pie” broke with a certain pattern. Each rock has its own internal crystalline structure, which determines its appearance”.

As a result of the uplift, the “pie” split into many deep rifts, along which river valleys were subsequently laid, extending from the center of the uplift to the periphery of the plateau.

The height of the canyon walls is impressive and can reach a kilometer, and if you add the depth of the lakes, the bottom of which lies below the World Ocean’s level, the numbers will be even greater. Putorana lakes are very deep, some of them reach 200 meters or more. The deepest is Khantayskoe with a maximum depth of 470 meters.

Over time, water, as well as frost, heat and wind, gradually destroyed the canyons. However, their impact on the original appearance of the valleys, according to the scientist, is small. You can destroy sedimentary rocks, such as the Grand Canyon in the United States, but not Putorana basalts.

“Therefore, feel free to enter into the dispute and prove that the canyons of the plateau are primarily tectonic rifts, and not the result of water erosion”, Vasily Sarana summed up.

Let us remind you that earlier the specialists of the Taimyr Nature Reserves revealed the word Putorana’s meaning.

Recently, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Putorana Plateau project was presented at the all-Russian competition, and they want to lay several comfortable routes to the waterfalls.

Text: Olga Polyanskaya, Photo: Natalia Popovas archive andopen sources

July 31, 2020

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