Orography and High Altitude Belts
The relief of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is very diverse and complex. More than half of the territory consists mainly of mountain ranges starting from an absolute height of 400-500 meters (in the middle and lower Araz lowlands of 800-1000 m), in some places 100-120 meters (foothills Talysh, Jeyranchol, Azhinoori, Lyangyabiz-Alyat foothills ), 0-50 meters (Gobustan, Absheron), meadows and plateaus, the rest of the plains and lowlands. The amplitude of the land’s heights ranges from 28 m below the sea level (the Caspian Sea) to 4,466 m of absolute altitude (Bazarduzi peak). The areas below the ocean level make up 18% of the total territory of the republic, areas with a height of 0 to 200 meters – 24%, 200-500 meters – 15.5%, 500-1000 meters -15.5%, 1000-2000-19 , 5%, 2000-3000-6,5%, above 3000 meters – 1%. The average height is 384 meters. The main orographic units of the Republic of Azerbaijan are the mountain systems of the Greater Caucasus, Lesser Caucasus and Talysh, Samur-Divichinskaya lowland (together with the Gusar inclined plain), the Kura lowland.
Only the southeastern part of the mountain system of the Greater Caucasus is included in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Here the main orographic units are the Main Caucasian Range (or the Watershed Range) and the Side Range. Main Caucasian Ridge, make up a large part of the Greater Caucasus, in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, starting from the top Tinov Rosso (3385 meters) on the border of the Republic of Georgia and the Dagestan Autonomous Republic, stretches in a south-easterly direction. Only the southern slope (the northern slope of the Daghestan Autonomous Republic) between the tops of Tinov-Rosso and Bazarduzi, and also both slopes to the south-east of it, enter the territory of the republic. The main Caucasian ridge is nowhere crossed by river gorges (therefore it is sometimes called the Watershed). In many places the height of the Main Caucasian Range is more than 3000 meters, in the center it is more than 4000 meters (Bazarduzu – 4466 meters, Tufandag – 4191 meters, Bazarurd – 4126 meters). To the southeast from the peak of Babadagh (3629 meters) this ridge is lowered and expanded. Extending fan-shaped from the top Dubrar (2205 meters) to the south-east, the Main Caucasian ridge close to the Caspian Sea is divided into cloven river gorges ranges Gyadi-Kyurkechidag, Aladash, Kyamchi and others. These mountain ranges, divided then into smaller, moving then to the Gobustan low mountainous area and from there continue to Absheron peninsula. Part situated to the north of the Main Caucasian ridge and parallel to another ridge – side the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, from Shahdag (4243) decreases gradually towards the southeast and ends at Mount Beshbarmag (546 meters). Lateral ridge valleys cut starting from the main Caucasian ridge rivers (Gusar Gudjal et al.), Divided into individual plateau-arrays (Shahdagh, Gyzylgaya, Budug). Parallel to the lateral ridge in the southeast stretches the range of Tyalyabi-Gainarka (height: in the west – 1000-1100 m, northeast – 150-200 m). Ridges and valleys separated shooting ranges, intermontane troughs (Shahnabad, Khinalig Yerfi, Gonagkend, Khaltayev, Gilgilichay, Tyhchay, Rust Piryabyadil). The southern slope of the Greater Caucasus mountain range down to Alazan-Ayrichay depression, in many places, runs parallel to the ridge (in some editions of the Alazan-Hefteran Valley). In some scientific publications, the Alazan-Irichay depression is given as part of the Kura depression. The length of this hollow, starting in the territory of Georgia, in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is 2120 km, width – up to 30 km. In the southeast there passes the Niyaldagh ridge (altitude – 2100 m), separated from the Main Caucasian ridge by the Lagichskaya lowland.
The Samur-Divichinskaya lowland runs along the Caspian Sea from the north-west to the southeast, in the territory of Azerbaijan from the Samur River continues to Sumgaichaya. Its part between the rivers Atachay and Sumgaitchai is called Bogaz Dusu. Lowland in the north-west (height – 200-250 m) via a terrace with a relative height of 10-25 meters passes to the Hussar sloping plain. The inclined plain in the south-west extends to the Lateral ridge. The height is almost 1900 meters (Mount Beyuk Suval). The marine part of the lowland is 28 meters below the ocean level.
The part of the Minor Caucasus mountain system located on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is mainly represented by several ridges that do not have the main watershed and stretch in several directions: Murovdag, Karabakh, Mukhtoyan; Part of the Shakhdag, East Geokchay, East – Goycha (Eastern Sevan), Zangezur, Deryalyayas, volcanic areas (most of the Karabakh upland), lowlands (Bashkend-Destafur). In many works, the ridges of Zangezur, Destiafur, and the Garabagh Mountains are not considered to belong to the Lesser Caucasus.
The Shahdag range starts in the north-west from the peak of the same name (2901 m) and continues to the north-east to the summit of Hinaldag (3367 m). To the east of Khinaldag is the Murovdag ridge (Djamysh mountain, 3724 m). To the north of these ridges are the Bashkend-Destyafur depression, to the north of Shamkir dome-shaped upland. This elevation is the Shahdag and Murovdag ranges.
The Pant mountain range and the isolated mountain Kapaz (3030 m) in the east divides the Bashkend-Destiafur depression from the Agdjakend basin. The northern slopes of the Caucasus, decreasing northward on the steep slope of the Srednekurinskaya depression, pass to the Ganja-Gazakh plain. The Eastern Goycha (Eastern Sevan) ridge forms the watershed of the basins of Lake Goycha (Sevan) and the River Terter. The highest peak is Kyati dag (3437 m). The Karabakh range originates in the north and stretches from the north-west to the southeast up to the Araz River. On Mount Gyzgalasi, the absolute height of the ridge reaches 2843 m, and on Mount Beyuk Kirs is 2725 m. Its watershed line consists of alternating separate rocky peaks and relatively leveled surfaces. On the northern slope of the ridge there are transverse channels and grooves. The Karabakh range in the north-west is connected to the Mkhtyokyan Range (Dalidag, 3613 m). The south-western and southern slopes of the Zangezur and Deryalayaz Ranges are not the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic). The Zangezur range continues to the Araz River. It is the highest among the ridges of the Lesser Caucasus. The average height is almost 3200 m. The highest peaks are Gapychyg (3906 m) and Gazangoldag (3814 m) – in the southern part of the ridge. A lot of transverse ducts are separated from the Zangezur ridge to the south-west. Piedmont areas are characterized by extrusions and laccoliths (Ilandag-2410 m, Khanaga-1910 m, Alinja – 1810 m).
To the west of the Zangezur ridge is the Deryalayazsky Range, which decreases closer to the Arazu (Mount Kykyyu – 3210 m, Kecialdag – 3115 m). To the south of the ridge, not foothills the main place is occupied by plateaus and shooting galleries. The southern and southwestern slopes of both mountain ranges are separated by tiers and elevations and run along the left bank of the Araz to the inclined plains (Sadarak, Sharur, Beyukdyuz, Nakhchivan, Julfa, Yajji). The Karabakh plain, mainly located between the Zangezur and Karabakh ranges, has cones of extinct volcanoes on the undulating surface (Gizilbogaz – 3581 m, Beyuk Ishigly – 3552 m, Ala Gollar – 3175 m), occupies a relatively large territory. Here the average height is 2000-2500 m. In summer it decreases, tapering from north to west. Ends at the junction point of the Akeri and Bazarchai rivers.
The Talysh mountain system is located in the southeast of the Nizhne-Araz depression (some scholars consider the Talysh Mountains to be the northwestern continuation of the mountain system of Elbrus). It mainly consists of the Talish, Peshtyasar and Burovar ranges, running in parallel from the north-west to the south-west. Of these, Talysh ridge is the longest (about 100 km) and high (up to 2500 m), passing along the state border with Iran. In some places, the ridges, joined by transverse paths, created closed cavities (Yardimli, Zuvand). Between the Talish Mountains and the Caspian Sea the Lankaran lowland stretches.
The Kura lowland occupies the central part of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The relief consists mainly of wide plains and foothills. The main orographic unit Kura lowland situated between the mountain systems of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, is the Kura-Araz lowland – the biggest plain of the South Caucasus. Kura and Araz lowland divided on Mil-Garabagh, Shirvan, Mugan-Salyan plains. The eastern and central parts of the lowland are 28 meters below the ocean level. Height at the foothill areas – 100-250 m, in some places reaches 400-500 m north-west of the lowlands, along the right bank of the Kura are Ganja-Gazakh, in the south-west, along the left bank of the Araz sloping plains stretch.. Ganca north-Gazakh plain and Kura-Araz lowland arranged Ajinohur, Langabiz-Alat foothills. The largest of them is the Ajinooro foothills (height – up to 1100 m). High-altitude belts. The complexity of the terrain on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan makes it possible to highlight here the highlands, lowlands, flat belt.
Highlands cover places with a height of more than 2500 m. This includes: in the Greater Caucasus – the Main Caucasus, the Lateral Ridge, in the Lesser Caucasus – the Zangezur, Murovdag and lateral parts of the Shahdag Range. In many places creates a narrow zone. This belt is characterized by a weak development of soil and vegetation, the presence of slopes and rocky cliffs. There are many sharp and crestlike peaks here. Remained forms of the ancient relief (trog, sirk, car). There are small modern glaciers.
The middle mountains cover most of the mountain systems: mainly at an altitude of 1000-2500 m. They are cut off by deep mountain rivers. On the slopes there are terrace-like surfaces. Terraces are developed in places where canyons expand, especially in intermontane depressions. On some mountain slopes there are landslide and landslide areas.
The low mountains with a height of about 200 m (Gobustan and Azhinoor) cover foothill areas from 50 to 100 m. In this belt, the slopes are sloping, the watersheds are smooth. In some areas – Gobustan, Jeyrancholsky and Azhinoori foothills and on the foothills of the Nakhchivan AR, a lack of moisture caused the development of arid denudation processes, unsuitable lands, karst and other relief forms.
The plain belt covers areas 100-200 m high, in some places up to 400-500 m (in Nakhchivan AR-up to 800 – 1000 m). This includes most of the Kura depression, the Alazan-Irichay lowland, the Samur-Divichin lowland, and the Priaraz plain. In this belt are widely developed accumulative relief forms. The main relief forms in the foothill areas are brought cones, on the coast of the Caspian Sea – dunes.