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Lecture 1

From the History of Geographic Studying of the Altai Region

The history of exploration in the Altai Region includes several periods con­nected to Russian colonization in North Asia.

The first period—which lasted for about one hundred years, ending at the beginning of the 18th century—brought pioneers (pacemakers), experienced peo­ple, and Cossack detachments coming from Tomsk and Kuznetsk to the South, at­tracted by new lands and the possibility of collecting tribute. The beginning of the Siberian exploration, including our region, can be correlated with the coming of the Ermak detachment to the shores of the Irtish and the Ob in 1582. All historical information about Siberian lands during that era point to a rather chaotic state of disorder, information not widely available for a Russian explorer. Actually, Rus­sian geographical ideas and modes of exploration to the east of the Urals developed at this time, and a truly scientific studying of Siberia began with the great Russian geographical discoveries of this era. In a short period of time (57 years) Russians crossed the Asian continent and landed on the shore of the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Ulya river in 1639.

The first Siberian cities appeared in close succession: Tumen in 1586, To­bolsk in 1687, Tomsk in 1604, Kuznetsk in 1618, and Krasnoyarsk in 1628. Fur­ther Russian advancements were suspended by hard opposition of nomads dwell­ing in the pre-Altai plains and in the Altai mountains.

The first information about Altai came in the time of Cossack marches from Tomsk to Teletskoye Lake, beginning in 1632.

By the time the Tobolsk voivode P.I. Godunov made up “The Drawing of the Siberian Land” (1667) much information had been accumulated about the up­per region of the Ob river. The list to the drawings informed readers about rich lands near the confluence of the Biya and the Katun, about Teletskoye Lake and

local people in the region. “The Drawing of all Siberian Cities,” made by S.IJ Kemezov in 1701, was the first to show the salt lakes of Kulimda.

The second period of investigation of the regional territory was connected with the discovery of iron-, silver- and cooper ores in Kuzbass and Altai in 1717— 1720, and the subsequent development of metallurgical manufacturing.

Circa 1717-1720 Mikhailo Volkov from Tobolsk and local peasants Stepan Kostylev and Fedor Komar brought the first samples of ores from V.N. Tatishev to Ural. In 1721 Tatishev, a manager of the Ural plants and historian, sent ore experts Ivan Pivtsin and Nikita Petrov to Altai, who in 1722 brought new confirmation of the first finds. At the same time A Demidov’s people I conty and Andrei Ka­banovs and Matvei Kudryavtsev louml ooppei ore neat Kolyvan Lake. In addi­tion, Ivan Tchupoi shnev discovered the Voseiesensk\ mute in Hi ■ place of former ancient mines in 1725. Nikifor Klcopin found ores on the Brlava river and in 1726- 1727 he built the first copper smelting plant. <>n;i( Mtd fef met il (Iliere was a war with Sweden) promoted the development of ami nlei.tllin j-K-nl manufactur­

ing, as well as further discoveries in the trmtoiy " 11» I aiulmap of the Kuznetsk uezd,” made by P. Tchichuitov in 17?'J, showed thr Inst copper smelting plant. Later, the Barnaul plant (17 I')) and the Slmlhmsky plant (1744) were built. In 1742 F. Lclcsnov found ОНИ MB I In1 tOWD Of ZfftMVOl and lalei discovered the Lazur- llcoye deposit Altai bccaim* the socond ore mining region idler Ural. A total of 8 plants, a I’linilinp, 1:111чiv', and .’X mines were built Later, the (iuriev iron plant stailed opeinlions Salt mines were being developed in the southwestern part of Barnaul forest, and beginning with 1768 the exploration ofBurlinskoye Lake began.

Certainly, the development of manufacture was accompanied by different expeditions. Some of the most notable expeditions of that time included:

  • In 1745, Peter Shelegin’s detachment penetrated into the basin of Teletskoye Lake. Among the people present were Pimen Startsev, a cartographer who drew up a map that summed up the knowledge about the region.

  • 1760 - Major Eiden’s expedition to the Bashkaus sources.

  • In 1761, Major Polivanov and an ore-expert named Dorofei Golovin’s de­tachment went to the upper reaches of the Tcharish in the Kansk hollow and later to the Abaisk steppe and to the Koksa River. The second detachment led by Major Eiden and P. Startsev started from the Katun castle to the south and at the mouth of the Tcherga they founded some fortification (1761). Altai people lived there as well. Later, they traveled up the Sema to the source of the Peschnaya, the Charish, the Koksa, the Kholzunsky range, and the Bukhtarma.

  • 1785-1786 - F. Ledenev’s expedition studied the Rudny (Ore) Altai. Bog­dan Kluge, Nikita Kotelin, Lindental, and Dmitri Popov took part in the ex­pedition.

  • 1786 - Saimoinov, a member of the Cabinet, ordered the dispatch of 8 groups to the Altai Mountains to search for new deposits. One of these groups was headed by P. I. Shangin, a physician, engineer, and botanist His detachment explored a left-shored part of the Charish basin, went up to the mouth of the Argut, and watched Belukha. It discovered 145 deposits of decorative stones, collected herbarium, plant seeds and plants for the Barnaul Botanic Garden.

  • 1796 - P. I. Shangin made the second investigation of Altai, a result of the first one. Shangin was connected with P. Pallas, who published his “Day Notes.” The work was published in German, it was subsequently translated by A.Teryaev, the Russian professor.

Besides the employees of the Altai Mountain district, the exploration of the territory was also under the control of representatives of the Academy of Sciences. In 1734, the Academy detachment of the Great North expedition (1733-1734), hav­ing in its membership professors - I.G.Gmelin (a florist), G.F. Miller (a historian) and a student S.P. Krasheninnikov, visited Kolivan, reached the Ob and the village Bamaulskaya (now the village Kolivanskoye of the Pavlovsk Region) and went as far as the Kuznetsk castle. “The flora of Siberia” by Gmelin and “The History of Siberia” by Miller contain information about the territory in the region at that time.

On July 21, 1771, the academician 1’. S. Pallas arrived in the village of Ekaterinovskaya and by way of Staroaleiskaya village he came to Zmeinogorsk. Then, he went around the mountainous Kolivan (Goltsovka , Tigirk, Chagirka, Maralikha-Karpovo, and Kolivan). Later, he passed through the village Belogla- zova and arrived in Barnaul. From there, with the academician I. P. Falk, he went to Palvovsk, Suzun, Talmenka, Anisimovo, Kaltai and further to Kuznetsk. His “Travel Among Different Provinces of Russian State” survives to this day. He wrote much about Altai. In his work Pallas mentioned a stone marten, a snow leopard, and tigers that no longer exist in the region. He was the first to note the originality of band coniferous forests. Pallas also affirmed that there were no gla­ciers in Altai.

Academician Falk also left interesting descriptions of Barnaul.

They were succeeded by a series of other acadcmicians; I. (icorgi, 1. German (“The Composition About Siberian Mines and Plants, in ' volumes,” 1797-1801), S. Patrcn, E. Laksman, 1. Silvers, and Renovants.

The 19 century turned out to be very productive in the regional study in dif­ferent fields, includng the study of flora, geology, ethnography and archeology.

New conditions faciulitated the transition to a nunc |x-i led type of societal management in Russia by the middle of the century. In I КО I serfdom was abol­ished. Russia increasingly searched for eastern markets. New possibilities in orga­nizing expeditions appeared. In the beginning of the century Altai supplied the Treasury with 1115 poods (1 pood is equal to 16 kg) of non ferrous metals (gold and silver) per annum. In the first half of the 19,h century several expeditions were organized at the expense of government departments, including those of: A. F. Gumbolt (1829), P. A. Tchikhachev (1842), E. P. Kovalevsky (1831, 1833), K. Ledebur (1826), A. Bunge (1826), P. A. Slovtsov (1819), and A. 1. Shangin (1808).

In 1808 A.I. Shangin wrote “The Description of Kolivan - Voskresensk Mines.”

In 1810 P.A. Slovtsev traveled around western Altai. After that he wrote about the furtility of the lands. During his trip to Zmeinogorsk he discussed a land­scape characteristic of Kolivan Mountain and colorfully described Lake Kolivan- skoye. P.A. Slotsev was also the author of the River and Valleys Asymmetry Law -“Solotsov-Ber" Law.

At the same time, G. I. Spassky, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Science, worked in Alati as well. His many-sided activities in nature exploration were amazing. He observed weather conditions, as well as water levels in the Ob. He also discovered the Insk ferro-ore mine (the one that was found by geologists 140 years later). Spassky wrote about gardening, Siberian pine, earth­quakes, salt-mines, and barbarian attitudes to forests situated near the plants. He also studied the archeology of the Altai region.

In 1826, K. Lederbur, professor of the Derptsk University, organized an ex­pedition with botanic aims. Doctor K. Mayer and doctor A. Bunge worked with him. They were accompanied by F. Gebler and P. K. Frolov. For one summer they investigated a huge territory, with impressive results including 1600 kinds of her­barium samples, 241 living plants, 1341 seed varieties, and a collection of miner­als. But the most important thing produced by their work was a 4-volume book, en­titled “The Flora of Altai” (1823-1831), and a corrected one: “The Flora of Rus­sia” (1842-1853).

In 1829, A. F. Gumboldt (1769-1859) arrived in Altai. He spent 3 days in Barnaul, then went to Zmeinogorsk, Kolivanskoye Lake, the grinding factory', from Zirianovsk up to the Irtish River, and back to Omsk, Moscow, and St.Petersburg. H. Erenberg and G. Rose traveled with him.

Circa 1831- - 1833. E.P.Kovalevsky (1810-1868), a graduate of Kharkov University, was the clerk of the mountain district and explored the Tcharish and the Biya basins in the eastern part of the district. He wrote about the severe wild­ness of that part of the region.

A.I. Kulibin (1798-1837), who w;is 1.1’. Kulibin’s son and a representative of the dynasty of Russian inventors, worked in Barnaul from 1829. He wrote “The De­scription of the Kolivan-Voskresensk Plants Till 1833." The main occupations of the mountain district inhabitants were farming, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, hunting, fishing and plant servicing. Amongst the most notable occurrences in this era were:

  • 1833-1835 - F. Gebler went to Kulunda to the salt-mines, reached the sources of the Katun and was the first to climb the glacier that now bears his name. He also took an active part in organizing the Regional Study Museum in Barnaul.

  • 1834 - Geologist G. P. Gelmersen (1803-1885) traveled around Alati to Teletskoye Lake. -

  • 1842 - P. A.Tchikhachev passed through the sources of the Tchumish, Salair, and Zmeinogorsk. He also made the first geological and geographical maps of Altai and determined “The Kuznetsk coal basin.”

  • 1844 - G. E. Shchurovsky visited the western Alali, then the Salair moun- tain-ridge. At the same time G. S. Karelin traveled there. Also in 1844, P. I. Shangin, G. I. Spassky, A. A. Bunge, and F. Gebler were elected corre­sponding members of the Russian Academy of Science for their achieve­ments in exploring the Altai region.

  • 1880 -N. M. Yadrintsev.

  • 1895 and 1898 - A. I. Nostrantsev.

  • 1895 - V. V. Sapozhnikov.

  • 1899 - Z. I. Rostovsky.

At the beginning of the third period (the second half of the 19th century) to­pographical exposures and maps (scale 1:420000) were made under the direction of F. Meien.

The exploration of the region at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th was connected with the agricultural development of steppe and Iow- mountain districts. Zoologists N. F. Kashchenko and P. P. Sushkin, geologist

V.A.Qbrutchev, botanist and geographer V. V. Sapozhnikov, and botanist P. A. Krylov made impressive contributions. The northern part of Altai was explored by G, I. Tanfilev. Altai investigators worked hard as well, including S. I. Gulyaev, V. V, Radlov, М. M. Yadrentsev, S. P. Shvetsov, P. A. Golubev, V. I. Vereshchagin.

In the first half of the 20the century (prior to 1917) the following expeditions left lasting scientific tracks: V. V. Sapozhnikov (1895-1923), G. N. Tanfilev (1902), P. A. Krylov (1902, 1912), V. Vereshchagin (1906,. 1908).

By 1917 a geographical portrait of the Altai region existed, but was yet to be worked out in detail. All-round systematic research studies became an important part of the territory development. These included soil-botanical research projects aimed at land and forest organization; carrying out forest cultivation for field pro­tection and creating forest zones.

Several expeditions focused on the land, including those organized by the west Siberian geological management and the Academy of Science of the USSPv, the Council of production power valuation, and by Tomsk University to study the regional salt lakes in 1930-1934 (Gorshenin, Kuchin, Reverdatto, Gerasimov, Pet­rov, Nekhiroshev and others).

Circa 1954-1960 great geographical investigations were undertaken by a special expedition of the Council of Production Power valuation of the Academy of Science of the USSR to promote new agricultural assimilation of virgin lands. These investigations concludcd with the release of the monograph “The Nature Zoning of Altai Region” and “The Top-soil of the Alati Region.”

From 1969 to 1974 a complex expedition of the geographical faculty of Moscow State University worked on making “The Atlas of the Altai Region,” which was published in two volumes.

Geographical research was repeatedly intensified after the organization of the academic laboratory of the Institute of Geography of the Siberian district of the Russian Academy of Science and the geographical faculty in Barnaul. Their re­search included complex schemes of usage for the river Aley basin, the Kulunda

channel, studying the recreational resources of the region and working out the complex program “Ecology.”

At present the regional geographers’ efforts are directed to solving the fol­lowing problems:

  1. Searching for stable development in a market economy and bad ecologi­cal conditions;

  2. The introduction of landscape planning instruments into the practice of natural resource management;

  3. The organization of systems in the reserved areas;

  4. Training specialists for regional economic service;

  5. Increasing geographical awareness amongst the population, especially the younger generation.

Lecture 2

Geologico-Geomorphological Structure of Altai Region

Taking into consideration present day administrative divisions, the terri­tory of Altai covers the Altai Region and the Republic of Altai.

Since old times Altai has been the object of international exploration; a process in which the scientists of Germany took an active part. These scholars included Pallas, Ritter, Gebler, Gumboldt, Gelmercen and others.

Geological Structure

The main characteristic of geological construction of Altai Region is its structural diversity, and its contrasting combination of stable and dynamic blocks of lithosphere - the combination of the West-Siberian Epihercynic tectonic plate and the mountainous formations of the Altae-Sayan folded area. The plate-joint with the Salairsky mountain-ridge agrees with the spreading of the mountain sys­tem, and with the Altai mountains proper, the character of joint is discordant and


faulty along the tectonic zone, which is determined by Obruchev as "the bed of Altai".

The structure of these constructions is extremely non-uniform in the third (vertical) dimension: the mountain areas are monomial and the platform is dou­ble staged. Its folded foundation is buried to the depth of more than a kilometre from the present-day surface. The cover boundary' is sharply transchronous and represents a common surface of exceptionally long formation period - from the middle-up mesozoic era to the pleistocene including.

Submersion of the cover foundation takes place by amphitheatre stages from the plate periphery to the area of the Kulundinskaya depression forming four "structural terraces:" Rubtsovskaya, Biyskaya and Central-Kulundinskaya. Orogenic areas of the region in its marginal part are the continuation of ancient fundamental structures but, contrary to typical platforms, they are not the juts of the shield, but rather the orogenic areas themselves. The latter are formed by sub- meridianal formation blocks of Baikal (Salairsky), Kaledonsky and Hertsinsky structures, complicated especially in high mountain regions by Alpine disjunctive zones of activisation, predominantly of longitudinal direction. It was this fact that encouraged V. A. Obruchev to develop the new branch named neotectonics.

Altai is a typical example of a polycyclic region of geological development. Depositions of the salairsko-kaledonsky cycle are presented by the carbonate- siliceous base of the Riphean, by the volcanogenic rock mass of Cambrian and terrigenous flyschoid-molassa section of Ordovician-Silurian Period.

The rocks of Hercynic cycle are' repeated mainly in the preceding succes­sion: Devon is presented by carbon-bearing and volcanic (volcanogenic) rocks, and carboniferous and Permian Period by coaly-terrigenous sediments of flyshchoid- molassa type. Mesozoic deposits in orogenic area are fragmentary and the period of vertex chalk and Paleogene period is characterized by the devel­oping of crust-forming process ( weathering).

The adjacent flat-lying mantle «I' the West-Siberian platform looks as a turned upside down section of chalk-Paleogene and is specific, consisting of products of crust weathering of near and far repeated deposits in its eastern conti­nental part and shallow marine sediments in its western part. Neogene-early Pleistocene fine terrigeneous facies reflect mainly the settings of alveolar lake plains, later followed by accumulation of loess-type aeolian depositions, and in Holocene period of ensemble of erosive and accumulation structures, which are the result of activity of various river systems similar to contemporary ones.

Geomorphology of the Region

"As for geomorphology, the Altai region is the combination of a foothill plain (the southern tip of West-Siberian plain) in the north and the Altai mountains in the south. Between the most important relief elements there is a complicated and peculiar transitional zone, which is a type of buffer territory, where the trans­formation of hydronet from submeridianal to predominantly sublatitude takes place; that is a distinctive turn of geomorphoiogical structures is implemented.

The steppes, arid lake facies of Kulundinskaya lowland, and belt pine for­ests correspond to the positions of ancient runoff valleys; reflecting paleo- geographic stages of river net on this territory, which was an Irish basin at that time. All these are unique plain landscapes.

The mountain massif of Grand Altai (Bolshoi Altai)—comprising Rus­sian, Mongolian and Gobiisky Altai—is a typical mountain country, including mountain structures of different orientation. This is the northern branch of Eu- roasian world watershed, which separates water systems of the Arctic Ocean from the intermediate Kaspiisky-Mongolian interdrainage basin. To the south­east, the river runoff goes in the Indian-Pacific direction.

This branch serves as a peculiar climatic barrier between the humid north­ern zone and predominantly arid southern one. This fact in many respects de-


termines the complex of exogenetic relief making processes on both sides of the boundary zone.

From north to south, the Altai mountain country includes: submeridianal mountain systems of Russian Altai, sublatitude of Russian south-Mongoiian north of Altai, newly diagonal ranges of Mongolian Altai, steppe-like in plane transition zones from Mongolian to Gobi Altai and latitudinal ranges of Tyan- Shan in the direction of south-eastern Gobi Altai.

While studying the mountain country various hypotheses of mountain for­mation originated and were tested: from arch-like, produced by contrary direction of touching tectonic stresses, to block radial forces due to chiefly vertical differ­entiation, to television effect of collision processes connected with Indo- Lavraziisky clash of lithosphere crust plate.

There was a rather important discussion on the formation processes of the intermontane and intramontane depressions of Baikal and Altai type. For the first of these the development of graben structures is characteristic.

The diversity of geomorphological processes is also impressive; they have formed the most different morphostructural and morphosculptural complexes. These are the steps of different stage surface of leveling of peneplains and pediplanes. These are the glacial processes of high latitutudes combined with frost Cryogenian weathering and ice. dwelling with a large number of naleds (ice bod­ies). These are various modifications of erosion - accumulation processes with dominant zones of deep and lateral erosion in fundamentally different conditions of humid (in the north) and arid (in the south) types. In southern parts the proc­esses of deflation accompanied by aeolian forms of manifestation are clearly seen.

Not long ago the Altai region became the object of inquiry into catastro­phic drawings of dammed mountain lakes, with unusual neogenesis of spillways, gigantic ripple and a number of others.

A wide range of endogenic relief forms can be found. A series of paleogeo- seismic objects have been determined that provide the discrete, permanent evi-

dence of great earthquakes on these territories. One of the largest and latest events of this kind—the September south Russian earthquake of 2003 of pleisto- seid zone — is shown here. The most different side effects are gryphon spout­ing, landslides and so on.

The earthquake itself is morphologically shown by the "ripped up" zones of surface layers as much as 20 km in length. The large Beltirsky landslide is rep­resented as a structure with the characteristic name of "broken plates," having the travels often some metres in length between adjacent blocks.

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