PRINCIPLE TYPES OF RELIEF

The diversity of reliefs in the territory of Azerbaijan is typified by their origin. The following types of relief may be found generated in the are: tectonic, volcanic, pseudovolcanic, nival-glacier, gravity-driven, fluvial, arid denudation, eolian, karst, talus, etc.

Tectonic relief has been formed in every single areas of Republic. Most general background and profound terranes (Great Caucasus, Minor Caucasus and Talish mountain systems, Kur River lowland) has resulted due to recent tectonic movements. It is suggested that in recent fold areas (Jeyranchol and Ajinohur forerange areas, Gobustan, Absheron Peninsula) all relief features are associated with the tectonic movements.

Volcanic relief is more typical for the Karabakh yaila terrane. Relief forms in this areas are dominated by lava and scoria cones, staggered lava plateaus and volcanic flows. Lake sags and hanging bogs were formed in areas where lava flows intersected with river-beds. Volcanic outbursts that occurred in the high mountain cold climate environment led to formation of pebble deposits by abrupt lava cooling and splitting.

Pseudovolcanic relief formation has been formed as a result of mud volcanoes activity. Such relief features within Gobustan, Absheron Peninsula, southeast Shirvan plain and other areas such as offshore Baku Archipelago are typical and occur like and cones and coniform hills, Most Baku Archipelago Islands has been generated due to mud volcanoes activity.

Nival-glacier relief has been formed due to ancient and recent glacier abrasion and accumulation, and appears like glacial trough, corries, dump moraine and shoved moraine. Such kind of glacial relief are widespread within the Great Caucasus (Major Caucasus ridge, Lateral ridge) and Minor Caucasus systems (Murovdagh, Shahdagh, Zangazur, Garabah yaila) high mountain relief zone.

Gravity-driven relief features consist of landslide and rock fall terranes. Mountain rock falls are dominantly evolved within Great Caucasus Shahdagh and Gizilgaya plateaus, within Minor Caucasus Shargi Goycha, both Murovdagh and Garabah ridges, and Kapaz mountain terrane. Several mountain lakes in Azerbaijan (Goygol, Maralgol, Ganligol etc) were formed as a result of mountain rock falls. Landslides are dominantly pervasive in areas with conducive lithology and hydrogeology conditions within southeast Great Caucasus (Girdiman-chay, Aghsu) and its northeast sector (Valvala-chay, Gilgilchay, Atachay).

The most widespread type of relief in Azerbaijan is fluvial. Lake Goygol was originated as a result of surface water activity. Such kinds of relief features include river-beds, terraces, gorges, washout fans (debris cones), deltas and other erosion and accumulative relief forms.

Arid-denudation driven relief evolves within arid regions where loose sand/clay deposits are widespread: Gobustan, west part of Absheron Peninsula, northeast flank of Major Caucasus ridge (area between Gilgilchay and Sumgayit-chay), Jeyranchol-Ajinohur foreranges, Nakhchivan AR forerange systems etc. Those relief terranes are dominantly attributed with badland and clay pseudokarst formation.

Eolian relief forms embraces dunes, sand bars and cones and coincide with Samur-Davachi lowland, Absheron Peninsula, and southeast Shirvan coastal areas. These relief forms have evolved due to arid climate environment and wealth of sand deposits.

Karst relief features can be observed within both Great and Minor Caucasus mountain systems where carbonate deposits crop out to the surface. Their formation was stipulated with surface and ground waters chemical and mechanic impact. Karst relief diversity includes sinkholes, caves, ponors, etc features. Azih cave, known due to the famous Alm Paleolit archeology findings, is considered one of the significant karst relief forms.

Talus relief has been evolved due to Caspian Sea abrasion and accumulation activity. Coastal area that underwent Quaternary time transgression demonstrates such kind of relief as beach barriers, terraces, cliffs, benches and others.

Polygenetic relief forms (dominantly peneplanation planes) are generated due to combine effects of relief forming processes that can be observes within mountain regions.

Anthropogenic (technogenic) relief forms due to irregation (watering and drainage) systems, civil and military construction (dams, dikes etc) and other people activity are most of all widespread within Kur-Araz River lowland.

Morphologic regions

The territory of Azerbaijan has an intricate geomorphologic structure. There are morphologic features that underwent insignificant tectonic impact such as denudation-structure mountains and those suffered its strong impact, or erosion-structure mountains, volcanic mountains, accumulation-denudation plateaus and plains, as well as accumulation plains. Relief origin, its formation age, morphologic features, geologic setting and their relation to recent tectonic movements made it possible to divide Azerbaijan Republic territory into two geomorphology country (Cremia-Caucasus, Minor Asia, and four provinces -Foothill Caucasus, Great Caucasus, South Caucasus depression, Minor Caucasus) which includes six geomorphology regions: Samur-Davachi, East Great Caucasus, Kur River lowland, Outside Minor Caucasus, Internal Minor Caucasus, and Talish region which in their own turn embraces sub-region and districts. Sometimes Middle Araz lowland, Zangazur and Daralayaz ridges, as well as Talish mountain and Lancaran lowlands are included into Minor Caucasus region as component geomorphology districts, whereas Gusar inclined plain and Alazan-Ayrichay valley geomorphology districts are referred to the Great Caucasus region.

Samur-Davachi geomorphology region in terms of structural ranking is suggested to be to be southeast extension and constituent part of Gusar-Davachi foredeep that took shape during the recent tectonic evolution stage, and is located within Great Caucasus northeast foothills. Its recent surface and basic geomorphologic attributes have been formed due to Late Pliocene and Anthropogenic marine and terrestrial accumulation processes. There are marine terraces, deluvial cones which deposits were shed from Great Caucasus northeast flanks as well as lowland sags in between mentioned cones. Coastal areas are dominantly covered with sands. Its surface is inclined (approximately from 0 to 1900m high) and is typified by staggered and rolling appearance. Its surface inclination and erosion increases along with elevation increment. Erosion incision reaches 850-950m within its foothill areas. This region is divided into Samur-Davachi and Gusar geomorphologic districts.

East Great Caucasus geomorphologic region is distinguished from the other geomorphologic regions by more wide spread nival glacial and exoerosion glacial relief. Late Pliocen-Anthropogenic glaciation relics here remained as trough valleys, corries, dump moraine and small roaches. There also are widespread mud volcanoes, landslides, badlands and clay karst terranes. Peneplanation plane features are also observed here. Those peneplanation planes caused inclined plain to appear in a staggered mode. Most widespread contemporary exogenic processes are erosion and gravity-driven ones. The region is divided into Major Caucasus ridge southern flank and southeast Caucasus geomorphology sub-regions:

1. Major Caucasus ridge south flank sub-region is located between Mazimchay and Girdimanchay interfluve and is severely dissected by river valleys (incision depth varies from 300 to 150m). Watersheds are usually narrow, serrate, and elevations are tapered. In some places there are relatively steep (40-70 C and over), with usually extremely narrow river-beds. River inlet ravines are usually dissected and complicated by landslides. As ravines got wider there appear terraces. Mud-flows frequently occur there. Rock falls and detritus materials are also widespread there. Zagatala, Shaki, and Lahidge geomorphologic districts are outlined within that sub-region.

2. Southeast Caucasus sub-region includes severely dissected mountain ridges. Major Caucasus ridge is a constituent part of that sub-region and consists of a narrow lateral part and steep (50-70 C) dominantly naked flanks. Westward watershed of the Lateral ridge is divided from each other canyon shape ravines into smoothed large synclinal plateaus (the biggest one is Shahdagh plateau). Severely dissected Lateral Niyaldagh ridge is located on the south. There are several troughs between ridges. Those flanks consist of terraces. Landslides and rock falls are typical for that terrane. Eastward sub-region includes its native Shamahy area, as well as Gobustan and Absheron Peninsula. Its subdued relief plateaus embrace Absheron Peninsula. Gizmaydan Shamahy, Maraza etc are typified by subdued relief plateaus. Their watershed and flanks are subdued. River-beds are usually narrow, but in some places they pass into relatively large terraced depressions. The northwest part of the sub-region is characterized with landslides and rock falls, whereas in its southeast part there are mud volcanoes, badlands and clay karst like arid relief features, and sand dunes are pervasive among Absheron coastal area. There also are salt bottom closed depressions and salt lakes in the area. Such geomorphologic districts as Bazarduzyu, Shahnabad-Hizi, Shahdagh, Tengi-Beshbarmag, Dubrar, Shamahy, Gobustan and Absheron have been delineated here.

Recent tectonic movements and exogenic relief forming intricate processes have resulted in diversity of relief forms observed within Kur River lowland geomorphologic region. It consists of four geomorphologic sub-regions: Alazan-Ayrichay valley, Jeyranchol-Ajinohur forerange, Kur-Araz Rivers lowland and Minor Caucasus foothill inclined plain.

1. Alazan-Ayrichay valley sub-region in terms of morphology context embraces isolated and subsided inclined foothill plain. Its surface is covered with alluvial-proluvial deposits. Alluvail cones and deposits concentrated between those cones are partially bogged. Predominant process is deposit accumulation. Alluvail cones consist of coarse materials, whereas deposits located between them are fine. Alazan and Ismayilly geomorphology districts are outlined in the sub-region.

2. Jeyranchol-Ajinohur forerange sub-region is located in the north of Kur River valley. Jeyranchol andAjinohur foreranges located south off Alazan-Ayrichay valley, as well as Langabiz-Alat forerange located in the northeast Kur River valley are also inclined in that sub-region. Its relief consists of ridges, crests and elevations, as well as valleys and troughs in between reflecting anticlines and synclines respectively.

The ridges and crest flanks are asymmetric (consist of Upper Pliocene deposits in its west and east parts and Anthropogenic deposits in its center). Their south flanks are very steep and north flanks are gentle. In some places (Gurjuvan plateau) at a 600-1000m level there are peneplanation planes. Sub-region is divided with antisedent valleys of the transversally flowing transit rivers. Incision depth varies in the range from 250 to 700m. The dissection is denser within the south flanks where ravines and gorges of badland type erosion are under way. Mud volcanoes are observed in the east part. Sub-region is divided into Ajinohur, Langabiz-Alat and Harami geomorphologic districts.

3. Kur-Araz lowland sub-region is the largest part of Kur-River valley. Its central part is covered with clay deposits, whereas Late Anthropogenie and Holocene terrestrial and marine clay, sand and pebble deposits cover its marginal parts. Having been young and gently slopping sub-region relict surface is just slightly dissected. East part of the considered region of crests and elevations (Kurovdagh, Babazanan, Mishovdah, Galmas, Bozdagh, Khidirly, Bandovan) caused by recent folding and mud volcanism. The river-beds are shallow, meandering with accumulation processes underway. Deluvial cones are met within Shirvan Shirvan plain. The central part of the plain, as well as Mughan and Salyan plains are typified by ancient river-bed levees, drainless depressions, sub-aerial delta, whereas within southeast Shirvan there are Recent Caspian lagoonal deposit relics, deflation gullies, conical dunes, ancient and recent beach barriers. Artificial watering and irrigation impact upon lowland relief. Relief dissection, washout (erosion) and soil salinization processes get more active under Anthropogenic conditions. Sab-region embraces Shirvan, southeast Sirvan, Kur River banks, Mughan, and Salyan geomorphology districts.

4. Minor Caucasus inclined foothill plain sub-region embraces dominantly northeast foothills extended between Khrami and Araz Rivers. It is 350km long and 12 to 30 km wide. Its surface is covered with Late Pliocene-Anthropogenic terrestrial clay matrix pebble deposits Low crests and hills are observed only within Kurak and Tartar Rivers interfluve (Naftalan, Gedakboz, Duzdagh). The border-line between the plain and mountain areas is extended along the normal fault. Transition into Kur-Araz Rivers lowland passes gradually. The surface begins from Minor Caucasus mountain area and is dissected by Kur River right-side tributaries. Incision depth varies in the range from 10-15m to 100-220m, and in some (Tartar River valley) reaches up to 220-250m deep. Most typical relief forms are deluvial cones and flanking deposits between them. There is ravine-gully network within the plain Naftalan-Gazanbulagh sector and Kur River valley flanks (Aghstafa-Shankir Rivers interfluve). Sub-region includes Ganja-Gazah, Karabakh, and Mil geomorphology districts.

Outside Minor Caucasus geomorphology region is an area where denudation processes dominate currently. Accumulation areas are met rarely. Mountain ridges here are divided from each other with troughs. Due to particular geomorphologic characteristics dominant processes here are erosion ones. This region is divided into three geomorphology sub-regions (northeast, north and southwest slopes).

1. Northeast slope sub-region includes Shahdagh and Murovdagh ridges, Shamkir vault elevation, Bashcand-Dastafur depression etc. Sub-region undergoes severe erosion and therefore is attributed by rugged topography. Gravity-driven processes were also pervasive pervasive here. In some places there are rock falls terranes (Kapaz daghy) In places where rock falls formed dams across the river the lacustrine deposits were deposited (Goygol, Maralgol, Garagol etc). Though valleys and corries observed at 2400m level within Murovdagh and Shahdagh north flank give evidence about the glaciation features during Anthropogenic time. Peneplanation planes are widespread within intermediate mountain zones. River valleys are also widespread in the area. There are ancient river valley relics. Marginal areas are surrounded with low-mountain zones. Intermountain troughs here are filled with cobble-pebble deposits (Alibayli, Chaycand, Garachinar etc). Penenlanation planes are also frequently met here. Some places are characterized by landslide terranes. Sub-region is divided into Aghstafa, Shamkir, Dashcasan-Aghjacand, Shahdagh and Murovdagh geomorphology districts.

2. The east slope sub-region basically consists of Karabakh ridge. Watershed area of the ridge at about 1800-2000m height is dominantly deprived of vegetative cover and severely rugged. There are also gravity-driven relief features. Ancient river valley relics with peneplanation planes can be observed at 1600-2000m levels. Structural and structural-denudation origin ridges and crests are located at a bit lower position. Those ridges and crests are surrounded with intermontane troughs (Khachinchay, Dovshanly, Hasanabad etc). Seismo-tectonic processes that occur along the growing fault promote the development of the large-scale rock fall boulder-train formation in the area, where Hasanabad (Khachinchay) trough borders with Baghirkhan (Boghurkhan) ridge. Intrusive mountain terranes and elevations (Galaychi, Bozdag, Gazanchi) are typical for low mountain zone. The ridge gradually becomes lower southeastwards and passes into Lower Araz River inclined plain. Lower Araz River geomorphology district has been outlined within the sub-region.

3. The southwest flank sub-region embraces Hakari River and partially Tartar River drainage areas. Its relief had been severely dissected, and in some places is covered with lava sheets and volcanic-proluvial deposits. The area is characterized by tectonic-erosive and litho-structural ridges and crests, intrusive bodies (Dalidagh etc) and intermontane troughs (Pirjan, Lachin etc). Peneplanation planes withi watershed area and flanks (Mikhtocan), solid rock placers within Calbajar ridge flanks and gorgeous terraces can be observed within Lachin region. Karst relief forms are also evolved here. Sub-region includes Calbajar, Mikhtocan and Hakari geomorphologic districts.

Internal Minor Caucasus embraces areas that underwent Pliocene and Anthropogenic volcanic activity, as well as mountain and intermontane areas which relief was developed under arid climate conditions. Volcanic type and Anthropogenic glacier-driven relief forms are widespread here. Currently such key relief-formation processes as arid-denudation ones are under way. This region is divided into Karabakh volcanic yaila, mountain area adjacent to Araz River, and Nakhchivan (Middle Araz) depression geomorphology sub-regions.

1. Most of the Karabakh volcanic yaila sub-region consists of Upper Pliocene-Anthropogenic lava sheets, lava flows and volcanic cones. Its central part at 3000-3500m level has a rolling surface. The major eruption centers such as Boyuk Ishigly, Gizilboghaz and Kechaldagh give evidence of the ancient and recent nival-volcanic relief forms. Intact and flat lava flows cover staggered relief surface. Final effusive lava sheets crept down the slope like 25-30km long flow tongues from their eruption center towards Tartar, Hakari, Bazarchay and Arpachay Rivers. Erosion processes impact upon lava sheets spilt around Girmizidagh, Ayichingily and Parichingily promoted pebble deposit formation. The river-beds have cut deep gorges at the yaila margins. River network is poorly developed within the yaila area. Drailess areas contain the lakes. Sub-region includes Gizilboghaz- Ishigly, Alagollar- Calbajar, Boyuk Goycha and Yazi geomorphologic districts.

2. Mountaine zone adjacent to Araz River sub-region embraces such ridges as Daralayaz, Zangazur, and Bargushad. Ancient volcanism-driven relief forms are dominant here. The high mountain zone is characterized with rocky and dissected relief and widespread explosive volcanic materials. There are also such relief patterns as ancient glacial forms (corries, flat-bottomed valleys). Erosion incision depth exceeds 1200m. Below 2400m level there evolved peneplanation planes. Here, there are depressions surrounded by mountains (Badamly, Tirshak, Aylis etc). Monocline ridges and crests along with synclinal plateaus dominates within the close vicinity to Araz River valley. Flanks of just mentioned structures are attributed by badland and pseudokarst features. Sub-region includes Daralayaz, Zangazur and Bargushad geomorphology regions.

3. Nakhchivan (Middle Araz) lowland sub-region basically embraces plain vicinity around Araz River. Dominant process here is accumulation one. Intrusive bodies jutted out along the border-line between the plain and the mountain area (Nahajir, Alinja, Alandagh), in some places like stand alone elevations. In the close vicinity along Araz River there are monocline crests (Nakhchivan AR, Daridagh) and synclinal plateaus. Flanks of said structures are typified by badland and pseudokarst relief forms. The following geomorphology sub-regions as Sharur, Nehram and Ordubad have been delineated here.

Talish geomorphology region consists of Talish mountains (Talish, Pestashar and Boruvar ridges) and Lancaran lowland. One of the typical relief features is ridges and wide intermontane troughs (Yardimly, Zuvard etc). Due to landscape inversion, predominantly Talish high-mountain zone is attributed by arid-denudation processes and relevant relief forms were generated by arid-semi-desert and dry steppe conditions. Mountain zone has undergone severe dissection caused by the dense transversal relative to the ridge extension drainage network. Marine terraces have evolved within the river valley watercourses trending towards the Lancaran lowland. Peneplanation planes can also be observed here. Watershed ridges are relatively smoothed, while River valley flanks are gentle. Landslides are observed on the northern flanks. West of the region is rimmed by a narrow margin of inclined foothill alluvial-proluvial, and partially marine plain (Lancaran lowland). The following geomorphology districts have been delineated in the region: Lancaran, Burovar, Yardimly, Peshtasar, Zuvard, and particularly Talish (ridge).
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