by Boris GOLUBOV, Cand. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.), Institute of Dynamics of Geospheres, Russian Academy of Sciences
Baron Münchhausen, the famous German adventurer and liar of the 18th century immortalized in the fiction of the day, once said he had got into the Caspian Sea through an "underground passage".
Was it really a wild yarn and figment of imagination?
Perhaps not. The Caspian Sea (inland lake) and its awesome phenomena fired people's imagination and begot many a legend in the dim and hazy past. The sudden sea changes with outbursts of flames, oil and gas gushers bursting forth to the accompaniment of the rumble and tumble deep under... Its abrupt water rises and falls, with new islands coming and going... striking temperature differentials with ice floes in the heat of summer... All that was mind-boggling indeed. Add the tsunami-like tidal waves, severe storms, the ebbs and
Articles in this rubric reflect the author's opinion. - Ed.
The map of Rus. Amsterdam, 1613. On the right below - the Caspian Sea in the works of 17th century Dutch geographers.
flows at one and the same point without any change of wind as well as the fata morganas and other optical illusions; the dark sandstorms carried from the deserts of Central Asia in the east, the reddish mist hanging over Kara Bogaz Gol, a large shallow gulf...
The ancient maps pictured the mysterious Caspian this way and that-extended now along the latitude, now along the meridian; connected to the ocean or else-less often, though-closed, without any outlet to the ocean. But could those maps depict real physical changes? For a clue we should turn to the Caspian's geologic past. By tradition it is regarded as a relict body of water that about 7 million years ago lost a seaway connecting it to the ancient ocean Tethys and that has experienced repeated fluctuation in its water level ever since (as indicated by the succession of shorel ... Read more