The Bible's account of Noah, the ark, and the Genesis flood states that the ark came to rest on the "Ararat" during Armenian times From Assyrian texts, Urartu is known to have existed from about the late 13th century BC to the 9th century BC as a loose federation of tribes near Lake Van and the Araxes river, and thus near the traditional Mount Ararat.
The conservative view of Moses' writing Genesis written at the great assembly around 600 BC is close to the 13th century BC Assyrian king's writing about the Uruatri or Uratri. The inhabitants of Urartu called themselves Biainili while modern literature typically calls them "Urartu" or "Kingdom of Van." Even before Urartu, the Mount Ararat region along with the Araxes river valley constitutes a possible starting location for the archaeology of the Early Transcaucasia culture with its distinctive red-black burnished ware. There are a number of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age archaeological sites around Mount Ararat in Turkey, Armenia, and Nakchivan.
The Mount Ararat Archaeological Survey found volcanic eruptions have taken place periodically ever since, but with subsiding activity. More flows that are recent have been extruded from cracks lower down on the mountain as each succeeding extrusion had less force than the preceding one. A long deep gash was opened in the mountain, known now as the Ahora Gulch. This is many miles long and thousands of feet deep and wide. Large surface fragments were in time slided downwards down toward the lower slopes of the north east side, where they are yet visible. Lighter volcanic ash was found as light-coloured whitish tuff on the east and northeast sides of the mountain. A sloping pediment of some 3-5 degrees was formed, which is similar to those seen in the desert Southwest in Arizona. As a result, varied rock specimens of the whole
ArarVolcanic Rocks – Basalt, andesite and pyroclastics have extensive outcrops north of Lake Van and around the Ararat region.
The volcanic activity apparently took place at repeated intervals during the Cainozoic Era and right up to almost historic times. Discrimination between basalt and andesine is often difficult in the field, for one border on the other. For that reason it is difficult even in thin sections. Plateau basalts form extensive sheets in many places. Volcanic cones and cinder cones are aligned along fissures treading in four points of the compass, north-south, east-west, southwest-northeast, and northwest-southeast.
The Ahora Gulch fracture through the Greater Ararat lines up in a nor theast-southwest direction, while the axis of the Ararat-Tendürek-Süphan-Nemrut lineament has the same trend. When it is realized that the Ahora Gulch and its SE counterpart that cuts through the mountain is aligned along this lineament, this helps to explain the existence of the Ahora Gorge. The mountain grew from extrusions up through this old fracture, and the explosive phase naturally followed the same fracture system. There are fractures in other directions through which flowed later lavas on the side of the mountain; and many of these fractures are filled with red dikes, indicating oxidation of black iron to red.
In many places the volcanic are in the form of tuffs and ignimbrites with basalt inter-bedding. The tuff may be black, grey, sandy, pumaceous, or even white, as on the east slope of Mount Ararat. Basaltic sheets cover extensive areas, and are scoriace, that is vesicular, indicating rapid ascends ion from deeper levels where pressure was greater and the gases were formed when the pressure was released on coming to the surface. Much of the basalt weathers spherically, suggesting underwater extrusion.
Tendürek volcano has two cones, each with a crater. The eastern cone is known as He
ll Mountain; the western one is Gulizar Tepesi. The main body is andesitic, grey in colour, while the basalt that flowed through the radial fractures in the sides of the cone is black, with a basaltic capping. Around its base are cinder cones, spatter cones, scoria mounds, and through the fissures pyre-magma was eject ed. The upper part of the cone was destroyed by explosion, with the expulsion of much ash. The main body of the eastern cone is andesitic, grey in colour, while the basalt that flowed through the radial fractures in the sides of the cone is black.
Around its base are cinder cones, spatter cones, scoria mounds, and through
fissures pyre-magma was ejected. The upper part of the cone was destroyed by a volcanic explosion, with the expulsion of ash, when in historic times the volcano erupted pumice. An oval lake occupies the crater 150 meters by 75 meters. The hot
springs around Tendürek are related to the volcanism. One lava flow is scarcely distinguishable from another. The type is common, that is, lava with blocky surfaces.
Greater Ararat is a compound volcano, comprising two strato-volcanoes. Greater
Ararat ejected much more lava than Little Ararat. Lava was ejected from the central cone as well as two notable cones on the flanks at 3,300 and 3,800 meters elevation. The mountain has no visible typical crater with ice top, although there is a crater lake
on the northwest side of Kıp Göl.
The Little Ararat is lined up southeast of Greater Ararat and has a separate central magma pipe. Around this pipe, lavas, breccias, and tuffs accumulated to form a strata-volcano. The main crater of Little Ararat ejected hypersthenes-rich andesitic lava, while the flank eruptions were of basalt with olivine and andesine. The last eruptions were very recent. Sulpha is a strato-volcano built up mainly of andesine and obsidian, the obsidian indicating quick cooling as under water. The main cone is mostly grey hornblende-rich coarse-textured andesine. Tongues of viscous andesitic lava with convex surfaces crept down the slopes, forming heaps of volcanic breccias. The basaltic phase came to an end with an ignimbrite eruption.
Nimrud is a young shield volcano. Its crater is filled with lakes. Olivine basalts and andesitic lava ejected from the same vent are inter bedded with tuffs. We counted over twenty separate flows. Welded tuffs were deposited in and filled the old Bitlis valley, suggesting that Nimrud grew with strong explosive activity, same as the Ahora Gulch on Ararat. There was Paean activity and katmaian nuees ardentes. The main body is composed of grey-hornblende andesitic but covered with pumice. Paean ash showers falling into floodwaters became agglutinated. Explosions, which form calderas, are a sign of old age. Basaltic pyre caustics are less common than andesitic types and preceded the flows. The tuff and breccias exposed along the Do ğubayazit road overlie andesitic and underlie recent basal liar of Mount Ararat. Therefore the explosive type of volcanic eruption of Mount Ararat was neither the earliest nor the latest events in volcanic activity. Almost continual magmatic and volcanic activity with regional and dynamic metamorphism has resulted in a complex structural framework.
The Bitlis mountain system is the backbone of that part of East Anatolia to the west of Lake Van. Its eastern slope was deflected to the northeast, possibly by pressure from the Arabian shield. There is believed to be a north-westerly directed over thrust. The Ozalp mountain system covers a limited area. The Sari gold range is larger and is covered by volcanic. An over thrust near the Tirman mountains is directed southward. The Dyadic mountain range has conspicuous depressions. Its range is covered with fossil ferrous Permian strata. It is possible that folding took place during older acrogenic phases. These ranges are of anticline type and the valleys represent synclines.
Isoclinals folds are due to tight folding. These are drag folds along fault planes. North of Catak along the road are intricate crenulations, accompanied by faults and shears. Difference in competence between limestone and shale produced disharmonic folding. Intense volcanic activity during the Upper Cretaceous led to confused structures. Crenulated folding is quite common in the limestone areas. Foliation had developed in soft rocks that they often resemble schist’s. Over thrusts –There appear too many large over thrusts and imbricate structures in the area, many occurring along
old dislocations in the Cretaceous ophiolite zones, North of Sirvan, Upper Cretaceous formations are thrust over Lower-Middle Miocene beds. Near Gercus appears a window eroded through the Upper Cretaceous in which middle and lower Miocene conglomerates are revealed.
South of Buyuktuzla Miocene passes under Upper Cretaceous indicating the evidence of a thrust although the evidence seems to be more fossil inversion. The direction of
thrusting is southward. North of Narh, crystalline schists are thrust over volcanic Upper Cretaceous. Most of these overthrusts are directed southward, but south of Narh Upper Cretaceous is thrust over Miocene in a northward direction. At Gelye Creek upper Cretaceous formations have been dragged over Permian in an easterly direction. At Mount Capala Permian is thrust over Eocene, while Istindar Permian is thrust over Upper Cretaceous. Also along Arpit Creek west of Gevas, Permian limestone is thrust over the Cretaceous formations. The displacement is more than 9 miles.
North and West of Karacahasan village, south of Karayazi the Upper Cretaceous is thrust over Miocene sandstone. Near Do ğubayazit there is an imbricate structure, extending from the frontier station past Kalus knoll to the Persian frontier, the thrust being directed to the northeast. At Kalus the Fusulina limestone is thrust over the Eocene limestone. West of Ihea Upper Cretaceous is thrust over Eocene marl in the north and Eocene limestone in the south. Most of the faults in the area are younger than Lower Middle Miocene and younger than the over thrusts. One fault is of recent age, post-dating the basaltic flows. There are numerous shears and joints. Near Do
ğubayazit lithologic discontinuities suggest the existence of east-west trending faults.
It appears at Milladric and appears to be a strike-slip fault extending to the north of the district. These longitudinal faults have the same trend as by previous inspections.
The marine beds of Oligocene age at Tuzluca are bounded by two faults. Miocene limestone at Kahnispi, northwest of Patnos, exhibits a high-angle normal fault in
the west. Near the high pastures of Urik the Bitlis range is blockfaulted. The presence of greywackes in the Ararat range suggest s the former existence of a eugeosyncline, in which the rapid subsidence and sedimentation prevailed and shale and marine limestone were deposited. Permian sandstone, shale and marine limestone were deposited. The age of the intrusive granites and diorites is uncertain. The red beds are
primary in origin and were formed in a warm and humid climate quite different from that at present. White and black sandstones, greywackes, chloritic, micaceous, and silty shale were deposited.
There are the manifestations of initial magmatism and there are characteristic of the eugeosyncline. They existed along fault planes. After the greenstones, basic submarine extrusions and andesites formed pillow lavas. During later times lagoonal and terrestraial environments prevailed due to the dry climate. Periodic andesitic and basaltic lavas were ejected along faults related to earlier orogeny. During the Miocene the most important volcanic lineanment was formed, that is, the Ararat-Süphan-Nemrut axis. Basaltic flows reached the waters, forming pillow lavat area are found in the Ahora Gulch.
In the earthquake of 1840 an avalanche of mud and water came down Ahora Gulch burying not only Ahora and St. James monastery, but covering the valley glacier to such a depth that it insulated and preserved the ice from melting to any great extent until the present. The writer noted the same situation on the Parrot glacier on the northwest side of the mountain, where the lower end of the glacier is covered deep with talus and volcanic debris. In summer where the cover is thin and toward the terminal moraine the ice melts and lets the cover rock drop into the canyon. This is also true of the Ahora glacier. In the bottom end of the Parrot glacier the melting water carries the smaller fragments downstream, but boulders weighing tons are still perched up on ice necks many feet above the glacial floor.
Eventually this neck will melt and the rock will roll down hill. The largest stream flowing down the mountain of Ararat comes down the Ahora Gulch and joins the Aras River. One wonders why there are not more streams, until it is realized that the surface of Ararat is very rough and porous and the youthful morphology of the mountain explains why fine sediment has not yet filled the interstices. For that reason the water from the melting snow sinks deep into the rock cover and may come to the surface down in the valley as springs or artesian wells. Jacob’s Well, in Ahora Gulch, where ARF camp was made, is fed by seepage down the mountainside in an
aquifer of tuff sandwiched between lava flows. Other exposures also show beds of tuff covered with lava flows, indicating that the volcanic explosion was not
the final tectonic event on Ararat.
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