Aral sea and Ustyurt Plateau. The beauty of the drying lake
Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan
Undiscovered Ustyurt Plateau
The article is consecrated to the amazing place on the planet - the Ustyurt Plateau. It is probably studied less than the Amazon floodplain or Antarctica. For many centuries, the great Plateau Ustyurt has been a crossroad of civilizations, has retained traces of the Scythians, Mongols and older people. On its deserted roads the ways of the great migrations laid. As the present development of the Plateau Ustyurt by people has just begun, it can be considered a kind of historical Ustyurt national reserve.
The word "Ust-Yurt" means "flat elevation". The large table Ustyurt Plateau lies on the territory of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, between the peninsula Mangyshlak in the west, the remains of the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya delta in the east. At present, the plateau rises above the plain at 180-300 meters. In some places it is incised to the surrounding plain by steep cliffs - chinks, up to 350 meters. One has to go many kilometers until he finds a place to lift up. The surface of the plateau takes the saline desert.
The geological age of the Ustyurt Plateau is estimated about 21-23 million years. The serious scientific study of it began only with the onset of the 1980s.
The most common physical characteristic of the Ustyurt is clay and clay-stony desert with groups of ribs or low-standing limestone karst formations and shallow cracks on the soil, grabens, local areas of fine gravel and - separately - sand.
In the early and mid-Cenozoic era the Ustyurt Plateau was the Tethys Ocean floor that subsisted between the ancient supercontinents of Gondwana and Laurasia. Limestones of the Ustyurt have many inclusions of shells, and some of their layers represent a real and solid shell rock. Other witnesses of ancient geological processes - the so-called stone balls, often partially destroyed, like bitten apples. They are spherical iron-manganese concretions which are formed usually on the seabed, at great depths.
The overwhelming number of them has an almost perfect spherical shape, and sizes range from two meters in diameter to the size of a cannon ball. It is strange how they got there. According to some scientists, it is the impact of the wind, which for millions of years has made its job, giving the stones the correct rounded shape.
Even on the Ustyurt Plateau map, you can imagine what the conditions of life here are. There are no rivers and other bodies of water, from rivers are only withered river beds, from the ancient lakes - salt marshes. This area is not protected by either the mountains or forests; it is open to winds from all sides of the world. Creating the Plateau Ustyurt, nature seemed to confine it by almost continuous winding strip of cliffs, height (on different sites) of 150 to 400 m. The chinks are particularly well represented in the east and west of the plateau. In the south there are almost no cliffs. As a result of soil erosion and changes in the karst these guards of the Ustyurt, slowly but surely, "move" and change the boundaries of the plateau after them.
The first subject that impresses everyone is rare beauty of the landscape of the Ustyurt Plateau, producing a particularly strong impression on the sunrise and sunset, when the bizarre chalk formations, dazzlingly-white or slightly bluish in the midday sun, absorb as screens, flowing into each other shades of golden, yellow, pink, crimson colours.
No description cannot really prepare a person for the scale and grandeur of this beautiful place.
Canyons on the Plateau Ustyurt are always looking for new ways, and the moonlight and night shadows of passing clouds make rocks constantly change shades of colors in a sophisticated palette from chocolate brown and purple to blue-gray.
But artists and photographers here are attracted by a fairy fata morgana, which can be not only sketched but also photographed, and even touched.
When tired of a monotonous and empty plain sight suddenly stumbles upon a bizarre castles, palaces and giant, apparently of extraterrestrial origin of animals – the first thought is that this is a mirage. But you approach closer and see: no, it does not disappear, but it becomes all the more clearly and visibly.
Peopletravel Company can arrange the Ustyurt Plateau tour in order you could enjoy all this beauty. Come to Uzbekistan and visit the unexplored Ustyurt Plateau.
The ancient settlements on the Plateau Ustyurt
The other most significant discovery for travelers is that in hoary times these places were not deserted, here in the Middle Ages a part of the Great Silk Road, from Khorezm to Emba, the Caspian Sea and the lower reaches of the Volga took place. An impressive number of abandoned cemeteries, which are identified by towering over them mazars - gravestones, and underground temples demonstrates not only the fact that the caravanners had serious hardships along the way, but also that there were many, many people. And therefore, those who served the merchants in small towns with caravanserais, mosques and pens for the camels constantly lived on the plateau. From the ruins of the cities the relatively well-preserved remains of ancient Shahr-Vazir are most known.
The traces of other cities are already open, but still unexplored. Much of these ruins, such as the abundance of abandoned wells, indicate that the living conditions on the Plateau Ustyurt in old times were not as harsh as they are now. With regard to time out of mind, the archaeologists found more than 60 Neolithic sites and remains of the ancient settlements on the Plateau Ustyurt of the Scythians-Sarmatians of the III-IV centuries. Then, as we recall, it was the era of the Great Migration (IV-VII centuries.); and the era also left its material traces on the Ustyurt Plateau. Not only time destroyed the medieval cities, there were Mongol hordes. This fact is also evidenced by archaeological finds.
What wonders magician-nature created on these scarce lands. Wind, sun, cold cut out of soft limestone such fanciful constructions and sculptures that even touching it, one does not believe that there were no human hands, and his genius.
Ustyurt Plateau climate
Summers are hot and long. The average July temperature is 26-28 °. In some years, the temperature comes up to 40-60 °. The average annual precipitation is less than 120 mm, they fall chiefly in autumn and winter periods.
Autumn on the Ustyurt Plateau is muggy and clear. In some years there are light frosts, interspersing with thaws. Winter is scattered and warm. The cold season is characterized by invasion of air masses of the western spur of the Siberian anticyclone. The average January temperature is -2,5-5 °. Snow cover is very unsteady, and is formed in late December - early January. There are little snow falls, in 50% of winters they are missing altogether. The air temperature in winter is also unstable. On some days of harsh winters it drops to -26 ° or even -41 °, and in areas with low relief to -45 °. Blizzards, rime are not frequent. The average amount of days with thaws is 40-45. In winter strong winds and storms are also typical.
Spring is fast, fleeting. Frosts end in early April. Hot, dry weather occurs during the second half of May. Soil moisture reserves are plummeting, and herbaceous vegetation begins to fade. There are no permanent watercourses. Available temporal rivers on the type of feeding are snow.
Because of its climatic conditions, the total absence of water and the distance from the modern ways the Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan even now is studied much worse than the famous Karakum. But the main mystery of the Ustyurt Plateau is not in geology or geography. It is in its history. Its vast territory of about 200,000 square kilometers, till 80-ies of the last century was a kind of archaeological Ustyurt national park - sheer "white spot".
Secrets of the Ustyurt Plateau
Our planet Earth conceals many not solved mysteries. Outside is the twenty-first century and sometimes it seems to us that we are the smartest, wisest inhabitants of this planet. But having reached a certain stage of development, mankind began to think, what if we have not crossed the border, which was the norm in prehistoric civilization. And confirmation of this are curious questions about the boulders, which are laid out in the form of pyramids, in the form of huge creatures, in the form of arrows, which many compare to the famous image on the surface of the earth in the plain of Nazca. The arrows, which are also called geoglyphs are the most amazing and mysterious discovery on the Ustyurt Plateau. Geoglyphs - are patterns applied in some way to the ground, length of which is more than four meters.
"Arrows" in this case are not a metaphor. These giant signs in the form of triangles with sides about 100 meters really resemble the arrowheads. Total, they are visible only from the air, and therefore they were found during the aerial photography in the late 1970s. Perhaps the arrows had some sacred meaning, but most researchers are inclined to believe that, first and foremost they had a practical purpose. The arrows with their edges point in the north-east, that is, to where one could find water backing from the Plateau Ustyurt. But why are they so great? Maybe it's a message to the highest heavenly powers. For the time being there is no answer.
There are two interesting hypotheses. On one of them, the arrows are ancient watering facilities. Along their perimeter there are ditches, and the grass is a little greener than around. And there are holes at the ends of the sides of triangles, which presumably served as reservoirs for water. According to another hypothesis, the "arrows" are pens, and they refer to the XIV-XM centuries BC. But bronze tips of arrows found nearby only show that the nomads have been on the mysterious Ustyurt Plateau at this time. There are also lined with gems conditional figures of turtles and pyramids. In 1983, near Beyte wells approximately 70 stone figures of warriors were found of height from one to nearly four meters. Judging by some imaged details - weapons, jewelry - these statues were created by the Scythians-Massagets in the IV-III centuries BC. They were thrown to the ground and broken. Despite this, it was found that earlier the statues stood in order.
Ustyurt Plateau vegetation
And despite all the apparent paucity of local flora and fauna dozens of endemics and relics of ancient representatives of flora and fauna can be found on the Ustyurt Plateau.
Herbs are mostly different kinds of wormwood, but mostly there are half-shrubs, saxauls are quite common. However, in spring, in a very short period (and not every year) you can see the blossoming Ustyurt.
There is a shrub called "soft carpel", more hundreds of thousands of years ago quenching with its berries the thirst of the same relict - Saiga antelope.
Ustyurt Plateau population of animals
Subzones of northern deserts have typically deserted look. The basis of the herpetofauna makes up lizards, snakes and Central Asian turtles.
Snakes are most plastic types - sand boa, viper, four-striped and multicolored wood snakes, arrow-snake and copperhead snake. Near the springs and wells water snakes can be met.
Among mammals, rodents predominate, mostly small gerbils, ground squirrels, jerboa, marmots. Here wild rams, wolves, foxes, corsacs, hares, hedgehogs are found, from the south sometimes jackals penetrate. On the Ustyurt Plateau two rare and protected species of the cat - cheetahs and caracals inhabit. The main beauties of the fauna of the Ustyurt are saigas, the safety of the population of which is now under threat. The "Kings" of the birds are vultures and eagles, other types of birds are sparrows and pigeons.
Here you can see a clearly cut against the blue sky silhouette of sharp-horned mouflon, trampling hooves the cliffs of the Ustyurt spurs.
The natural wealth of the Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan, especially oil and gas reserves are enormous and are not fully known, and that is found is suspended. The Ustyurt oil and gas region is the largest in Uzbekistan and most poorly studied. As a result of oil and gas explorations about 25 oil and gas fields were opened.
On May 21, 2016 in the framework of bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and Korea, the National Holding Company "Uzbekneftegaz" and the Consortium of Korean companies the joint venture in the form of the Company with limited liability «Uz-Kor Gas Chemical» was established.
The Ustyurt gas chemical complex in Uzbekistan, construction of which was begun in 2012, includes five gas separation plants, ethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene production, providing energy resources and facilities of modern infrastructure. In total around 1,300 professionals work at the complex.