by Gennady UFIMTSEV, Dr. Sc. (Geol. & Mineral.), Institute of the Earth's Crust of the RAS Siberian Branch; Alexander SIZOV, a post-graduate of the Institute; Gennady BARYSHNIKOV, Dr. Sc. (Geography), Altai State University
The residents of Altai and its environs have always regarded the region as something miraculous, alluring with a promise of rest and happiness. In the 17th - 19th centuries Russian Old Believers came here in search of the fantastic freedom land Belovodiya, and Buddhists tried to find a mysterious land-Shambala. It will be forever entrenched in the memory of anyone who had a chance to visit it or at least to read about this region, with its snow-white ice-covered tops of mountain ranges overgrown with thick forest, and treeless hollows. But you will also find a different kind of Altai - boundless steppes or low mountains with lots of astounding landscapes.
The low mountains and hills surrounding the town of Zmeinogorsk and the Kolyvan settlement are among Altai's most picturesque places. The name of Kolyvan is associated with the images of giant vases displayed in the halls of the State Hermitage museum. They were cut out in the 18th century from grayish-green jasper or light pink stone in Russia's oldest stone-cutting workshop. If you happen to visit the Kolyvan environs you will not only admire its beauty but also see in it the potential of a real scientific testing ground.
As you travel to Zmeinogorsk from the North or Northwest you see how the Steppe Altai plains give way to sloping hills and then to hills and low mountain relief. You will at once take note of widespread valley
pediments - slightly inclined piedmont plains formed as a result of retreat of valley sides parallel to themselves. They seem to have smoothed the watersheds that have been transformed into the frames of the broad inter-valley spaces of the past.
As you approach the mountains you will see along the road separate granite ... Read more