Kola Peninsular


The Khibiny Mountains

The Khibiny mountains (an old Saami name) are located in the centre of the Kola Peninsula, 80 km north from the White sea and 120 km south from the Barents sea. This is a horseshoe-shaped plateau composed of alkaline rock, nepheline syenite, which was crystallized about 380 million years ago from magmatic melts of gigantic volcanoes, like the Kilimanjaro in Africa. Volcanoes got extinct ages ago, and were exposed to erosion and glacier flattening. However, 10000 years ago when the glacier disappeared, the massif began to grow again. The top of the massif furrowed with glacial scars, is rising now about 1000 meters above the surrounding hilly plain covered by a thin layer of sand, clay and peat-bogs which covers underneath metamorphic rocks of about a three billion years old.

Vast valleys with the Kola greatest lakes - Imandra (180 km long and 30 km wide) and Umba (45x12 km) adjoin the mountains from the west and east. The highest tops are found in the western area of the massif, and the highest point is Chasnachorr (1191 m). There are a lot of rivers and lakes in the mountains, multiple streams drying up in autumn and being born in snow melting. The greatest mountain lakes are the Maly Vudiavr and Bolshoi Vudiavr, they are located in the southern part of the Kukisvum valley at the altitude about 315 meters over the sea level.

Khibiny mountains at Kola Peninsular

The Khibiny mountains are located north of the Arctic Circle, so during the short summer period the sun is not hidden below the horizon but starting from mid-December till early January the sun does not appear in the sky. Owing to the warm Gulfstream washing the North coast of the Peninsula, the climate of this area is not severe, however, spring comes to the mountains as late as at the end of May - the beginning of June; in deep canyons and northern slopes snow never melts at all. Summer comes in late June, and tundra is covered with a multicoloured carpe of flowers. Northern summer is short -just at the beginning of September the mountain slopes are getting red-yellow and the tops are covered with snow. The air temperature in the mountains falls sharply and winter comes already at the end of September-the beginning of October. Winter is not frosty here - an average temperature in January is as low as -13 °C but winter lasts over seven-eight months.


The higher to the mountains the poorer the vegetation world is getting: thick pine-, fir- and birch-woods of the foothills change at the level of 200-250 m into dwarf forest, then at 300 meters - into tundra (arctic prairies) and on the flat Khibiny tops dominate arctic stone deserts. Despite the severe conditions, about 2000 vegetation species grow there, there is a great variety of mosses and lichens. The animal world of the Khibiny mountains is also rather diverse - one can see here a reindeer, elk, brown bear, glutton, lemming, white hare, raven, thrush, partridge, snow-bunting. In cold crystal-clear water of the Khibiny rivers and lakes you can find salmon, grayling, sig, pike, perch, and char.

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