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The Kara-Kum Desert.

Tours on jeeps across Kara Kum Desert.

“Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the wa” 

 Terry Pratchett, “Jingo”. 

Travel on Kara Kum Desert.

"Karakum" in translation from Turkic means, in the opinion of E.M. Murzaev, "earthen sands". By relief, the desert is divided into two parts. The smaller, northern part is occupied by the Zaunguz Karakum, or Zaunguz plateau, which in the south is bounded by a steep ledge of 60 – 80 m divided into flat ridges. treated with desert continental phenomena.
A much more recent channel of the ancient river channel of the Amudarya is limiting the Karakums from the north-west of Uzba, which dried up, but retained all the morphological features of the river valley. To the south of the Unguz, the spaces of the Central, Southeastern, and Southern Karakums extend, forming in aggregate the second, most of the desert.
The central Karakum in relation to the Zaunguz Karakum represent a lower plane, which is why they are often called the Low Karakum. To the south and southeast, the surface gradually rises, and the plains of the South and South-East Karakum lie at higher altitudes than the Zaunguz plateau.
The surfaces of both planes that form a step are slightly inclined to the west. In the South-Eastern Karakum there is a dry bed of the ancient river channel - Kelifsky Uzboy, much of which is now occupied by the Karakum Canal.
The Zaunguz plateau is formed in the upper part by sandstones and clay-sandy sediments of the Paleo Amudarya, which flowed here in the Miocene - Pliocene. The waters of the ancient Amu Darya flowed from the east to the west between the ledge of the Zaunguz plateau and the Kopetdag in the lower Quaternary time, the spaces of the Central and South-Eastern Karakum are lined with its alluvium.
In the southern part of the Karakum desert, delta deposits of the Tedzhen and Murgab rivers are laid on it. In the eolian desert relief, ridge sands dominate, turning into hilly (small-row) sands in the south, among which there are flat clay areas - takyr soil. Most of the sands are fixed with vegetation.
Bulk sands occupy about 5% of the area, mainly in the South-Eastern Karakum. Groundwater in the central parts of the desert is highly mineralized, but where the waters of the Amu Darya, Murghab, Tejen and Kopetdag rivers flow into the sands, weak saline groundwater is widespread.
As a result of hydrogeological studies of recent years, large reserves of fresh groundwater have been discovered in the east and southeast of the desert, freshwater lenses in the Zaunguz Karakum. There are many wells in the desert (more than 10 thousand), and in areas devoid of fresh groundwater, bulk wells (Chirle) are organized in which fresh rainwater is collected with takyr soil.
It saturates the thickness of the sand, forming lenses on top of the more dense saline groundwater. The soil vegetation cover and animal world of the Kara-Kum is essentially already described above, with a general characteristic of the southern sandy deserts.
For Kara-Kum in comparison with other sandy deserts especially intensive development of spring ephemeral vegetation is typical. Almost all of their territory, with the exception of sand dunes, is covered in spring with a green carpet of ephemera and ephemeroids, among which sandy sedge is dominated by a valuable forage plant.
On overgrown sands, white and black saxaul are found. Shrubs are characteristic of the overgrown sand dunes: sand acacia, juzguns. The Karakums are vast pastures where karakul sheep, goats and camels are grazed. Most of these pastures are used year round.
In places of grazing the main flocks of sheep create reserve fodder funds, construct new wells. To expand the area of ​​agricultural oases and irrigate the southern part of the desert, the Karakum Canal was created.
Topical issues are the introduction of pasture rotation, improvement of pastures, the prohibition of logging of saxaul and shrubs. There are deposits of various mineral waters in the Karakum desert, large reserves of potash and salt have been discovered.
Since 1929, high-grade sulfur deposits have been developed in the center of the desert, in the Ungus region. Gas and oil are found in some places. Large gas fields Darvaza-Zeagli finding in the Central Karakum.
The Ochak gas field is located in the Zaunguzskiy Karakum, the Bayram-Aliyskoye field is located in the South-East Karakum (there is also oil here). Adjacent to the western part of the Karakum desert, in the coastal desert regions of western Turkmenistan, a number of oil and gas fields are being exploited - in Nebit-Dag, Kum-Dag, Koturdepe, on the Cheleken Peninsula, etc.

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N. A. Gvozdetsky, N. I. Mikhaylov. "Physical geography of the USSR. Asian part. The edition third corrected and added. Moscow "Thought" of 1978.

Alexander Petrov.