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  Tendurek Dagi
  Suphan Dagi
  Nemrut Dagi
  Erciyes Dagi
  Hasan Dagi
  Muztagh Ata
  Mount Everest


Middle East & Central Asia: Regional Map and Introduction

Volcanoes of the Middle East: Caucasus, Turkey, and Iran #
    The Middle East is home to some of the most spectacular and famous volcanoes in the world, including Elbrus, Ararat, and Damavand. These volcanoes and numerous others lie along several ranges in the Caucasus region and throughout Turkey and Iran, and they have all formed due to the ongoing collision of the northward-moving Arabian Plate with the Eurasian Plate. The collision is quite complicated and details of its geology are still poorly understood, but some portions of the Arabian Plate are being subducted beneath the Eurasian Plate (thus forming arcs of stratovolcanoes) while other parts are being deformed and sheared along a number of major faults.
    At the northern end of the zone, the Caucasus Range lies along the frontier between Russia and Georgia/Azerbaijan, thus forming part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is primarily a folded and uplifted range of non-volcanic rock, incised by numerous spectacular glaciers, and capped by the volcanic cones of Elbrus and Kazbek. The Caucasus easily tops the better-known Alps as the highest range in Europe, and it contains at least 10 peaks higher than Mont Blanc. The region has severe weather and bitterly cold winters, and the glaciers on Elbrus and throughout the central part of the Caucasus are as extensive as any in the Alps.
    Farther south lies the largest concentration of volcanoes in the region, along the border of Armenia, Turkey, and Iran. Starting with the eroded massif of Aragats in Armenia, the chain extends south through Ararat to the three volcanoes located near Lake Van, Tendurek, Suphan, and Nemrut. Although only Ararat is high enough to support a large icecap, there are several small glaciers on both Aragats and Suphan. The volcanoes in this area receive deep winter snowfalls and are beginning to receive attention from ski mountaineers and even heli-skiers. In central Turkey lie two more isolated volcanoes, Erciyes and Hasan, with the former hosting not only a couple of small glaciers, but also now a relatively large and expanding ski area.

Select a mountain from the clickable map above

    Heading east into Iran, the volcanoes such as Sahand and Sabalan become interspersed among range after range of folded-uplifted mountains. Just south of the Caspian Sea the Elburz Mountains are crowned by the spectacular cone of Damavand, the most famous mountain in Iran and a superb ski descent which is rapidly gaining recognition and popularity. In southeastern Iran, the chain of volcanoes continues nearly to the Arabian Sea, but the region is extremely arid and possibilities for ski descents on peaks such as Taftan may be limited or even impossible in some years.

Central Asia & Himalaya #
    The greatest mass of mountains in the world has formed due to the collision of the Indian subcontinent with the Eurasian Plate over the past 20 million years. The Himalaya and the other great ranges of Central Asia contain all of the world's peaks over 7000 m (23000 ft), yet volcanic activity is limited to only a few minor and scattered volcanic fields in Tibet and western China. No great stratovolcanoes rise in this entire region, since no portions of the two colliding plates are being subducted beneath the other. This vast region is represented here by only two mountains: the highest ever ascended on skis (Muztagh Ata) and the highest ever descended on skis and snowboard (Mount Everest). Although almost all of the major mountains have been climbed, many sub-peaks and side summits do remain unclimbed, and the possibilities for ski/snowboard mountaineering are essentially limitless and are just beginning to be explored.

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Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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