The Karabakh Zone
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The Karabakh zone includes the physical-geographic regioni of the Lesser Caucasus area (Ganja, Karabakh, Volcanic plateau, Aker) and the highest part of the Kura intermountain depression-Kazakh-Karabakh region.

The Ganja region is situated on the north-eastern slope of the Leiser Caucasus. In the north it borders with the Ganja-Kazakh lowland, in the south-with the waterihed lines of the Shakhdag and Mrovdag ranges. From west to east it extends from the Armenian border up to the Injichay river. The highest peaks of the southern part of the region are 3000-3722m (Gamish mountain). In the northern direction the relief gradually decreases down to 500m. The territory of the region has a dense network of numerous narrow valleys sharply changing in width down-stream of the river.

The region is rich in naturai resources. Thesc are hydrocarbon and hydrocarbon-chlorine mineral springs. There are three types of climate: mountainous-tundra, cold with a dry winter and moderate/warm with a dry winter. The annual average temperature along the mountain foot is 14oC. In the near peak areas-below 0oC the absolute minimum temperature during the year is-14oC in

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 the low mountain relief , and-25oC in the high mountain relief, the absolute maximum being +37oC and +10oC respectively. The volume of precipitation during the year gradually increases from 300mm in the foothills to 900mm in thc high mountain relief. 3 to 7 days of hail are observed in the mountains and the number of days with snow cover in comparison with the low mountain relief (20) is 8 times more (160). Western and north-eastern winds are dominant in the middle mountain relief. Almost all the rivers are fed from the ground and rain flow and are referred to as the area of middle gutter in the middle and upper reaches, and the area of small gutter in the low reaches. In the near peak areas of the mo intains, mountain-meadow peat, primitive and mountain-meadow turf soils are developed, in the lower areas of the middle-mountain relief the topsoil becomes more variable. Mountain-timber brown, mountain-timber humus-carbonate, mountain-timber chernozems, carbonate and alkali soils are developed here. In the northern direction, i.e. down along the slopes of high mountains, Alpine mountainous meadows with rocky tallus vegetation join the high mountainous Subalpine meadows and meadow-steppes. Mountainous deciduous forests (Quercus orientalis, beech-trees, horn-beam and others) are preserved in the upper parts of the middle mountains and along the river valleys. In the central area of the middle mountains and in low mountainous relief they are felled and vegetation is

The Aksu river, in the Lesser Caucasus. (photo - State Committee for the Environment)

 represented by meadow, mainly post-timber formation combined with bushes and light forests. In the basin of the Karkarchay river Quercus cas-taneifolia grows. High mountain areas are like summer pastures. In the middle-mountain areas cattle-breeding, potato-growing, grain-growing, tobacco-growing, gardening and vine-growing are developed.

The Karabakh region covers the Karabakh Ridge and its spurs. The relief rapidly decreases from the west (2700m) to the east (500m). In the north-west the border ot the region goes southwards from the watershed of the Murovdag ridge, only in the south-east does it reach the foothills of the inclined plains on the left bank of the Araks river. The orographic and geomorphological structures of the Karabakh region are almost similar to those of the Ganja region. 1n the river valleys (especially in their middle reaches) there is a series of hollow-shaped dilations. The area is rich with natural resourcei (chromite, copper, purites, construction rocks and others), there are hydrocarbon and thermal springs (Nuraddin). The climate is the same as in Ganja-moderate/warm with a dry winter. The rivers are shallow and miiinly fed with rain water. Meadows are developed along the watershed line of the Karabakh ridge. The forest cover on the slopes of the mountains sharply narrows to the south-eait and develops an island character. Meadows in the same direction turn into arid-loving species of vegetation. In place of felled forests in the meadows, post-timber vegetation dominates. In the lower-mountain relief, forests turn into bushes. The vine-growing, grain-growing, cattle-breeding, iilk-worm breeding, gordening, in some places even potato hrccding, are well developed here.

The area of volcanic plateau occupies the territory ot the river source near the Ter-ter and Aker river sources. In the east it borders with the western slopes of the northern part of the Karabakh range and in the west-with Armenia. The highest part of the plateau (3400-3600m) is the Dalidag, Kechidag mountains and the lowest parts are the valleys of the above mentioned rivers (1500m). The relief of the plateau is violated by the centers of tertiary and Pleistocene volcanism, resemhling two separate dry peaks of cone-like hills. Here deposits of molybdenum, pearlite, copper, mineral dyes and others, occur. The thermal springs available with temperatures up to 60-70oC are of the hydrocarbon-chloride-sulphate type, for example the mineral springs of Istisu-a high-mountain resort. The region is characterized by two types of climate-cold high-mountain (mountainous tundra), and cold with a dry winter. The annual average temperature is 0oC (in the lower parti of the plateau) and below zero (in the near peak parts of the mountain). The annual amount of precipitation is 900mm, there are 7-8 days of hail and up to 40 days of thunderstorms during the year. The duration of snow cover is 160 days, its average height is 70-100cm. Rivers are fed mainly by the ground and snow water. The peak of the annual flow is in June. In the near peak areas of the mountains mountain-meadow peat and primitive soils with high-mountain Alpine rneadows and meadow-steppes are developed. In the lower areas mountain-meadow turf soils with high-mountain Subalpine meadows and meadow-steppes are developed. The territory is used as summcr pastures, in some places tobacco-growing, grain-growing and gardening are practised.

The Aker region covers the middle and lower reaches of the Aker river and the mountainoui territories adjacent to it. In the north-western end the relief increases up to a height of 1500m, in the south-east it decreases down to 600m. The mountains are intensively ind

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