The world beneath Baikal
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Word of poet
On all sides the Baikal hollow is surrounded by mountains: on the western shore the lake is closely rimmed by the Primorsky and Baikalsky Ranges, with their maximum height of 2,678 metres.
On the eastern side, Baikal is fringed by the Barguzinsky and Ulan-Burgasy Ranges, and in the south and south-east by the Khamar-Daban Range, with its summit named Munku-Sardyk (eternally snowy) reaching 3,491 metres above sea level. The tops of the ranges and the valleys of the rivers flowing down the Baikalsky, Barguzinsky, Khamar-Daban Ranges, evince rather distinct traces of local mountain-valley glaciating. The last 250 thousand years witnessed not less than 5 serious cold spells, and the last one only 10-15 thousand years ago.
The northern part of Lake Baikal is the shallowest, with a maximum depth of 890 metres. Baikal and the mountains surrounding it came into existence due to fracturing and movement of the earth's crust, resulting from tension inside the Earth itself. The major geologic feature of the Baikal Territory is that it incorporates the borderline of the great tectonic structures - the Siberian platform and its framing and the Sayano-Baikalsky folded belt. Tectonic movements along this border never cease and are manifested by earthquakes and by fluctuations of separate parts of the shores. Annually, the ground seismic stations register up to 2,000 earthquake tremors; the most sensitive seismographs, installed at various depths of the lake, identify them more frequently. In 1862, north of the Selenga's delta, an area of land of about 200 square kilometres sank under water to a depth of 2 metres as the result of an earthquake whose magnitude, as A. Voznesensky stated, reached magnitude 11. (This compares to the magnitude 10 quake in Ashkhabad in1948, and the magnitude 7 in Tashkent in 1967). The new bay formed on Baikal by the 1862 earthquake was called Proval (gap), and the new water-ways that broke through, the Cape - Oblom (Break-On).
Before the quake, old people describe the area of Proval as the Sagan-Moryan (White Steppe), upon which were five Buryat uluses (villages) that gave residence to 1,200 aborigines with their 867 houses and yurts (tents), and more than 17,000 head of cattle. On the New Year's eve (old style) the residents heard a subterranean boom, and water mixed with sand and silt began splashing out of the wells. The frightened people drove off the cattle to more elevated parts of the foothills, but the shaman Petrushka, who enjoyed great respect and indisputable authority, persuaded the people to go back to the steppe, in order to accept the penalty of Burkhan - the god of Baikal. That night when the water came flooding over the steppe, people forced their way to the high shore using either gates torn off their Tiinges, or plain logs. All property and livestock perished.
On the 29th of August 1959, during an earthquake of magnitude 9, the Baikal bottom was displaced for 12-20 metres.
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