Landscape and Soils of the Kronotsky Reserve

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Landscape

The Kronotsky Reserve is washed by the waters of the Kronotsky Bay and in part the Kamchatka Bay of the Pacific Ocean. The coastline of the northern and southern areas is rugged with many bays and peninsulas. The coastline is often elevated, at times (especially on the Kronotsky Peninsula) precipitous, and rocky with cliffs, columns, and stony reefs. The central part of the shore line is level and sandy. The shore slopes sharply in places.

The landscape is mountainous, fragmented, with signs of recent eruptions. The inner border of the reserve is formed by the Vostochny (Eastern) Mountain Range, representing a group of smaller mountain ranges. One of the ridges on the range, Valaginsky, borders the central part of the reserve territory directly. The width of this ridge is 10–35 km, with a maximum elevation of 1200–2000 meters above sea level, and rising 600–1000 meters above adjacent lands. The range is denuded, and the slopes deeply carved by river and stream valleys.

The reserve is situated in the center of the Eastern Volcanic Belt, represented by the Eastern Volcanic Range and plateau around it. The width of the Eastern Range is 2000–3500 m. Its morphology is determined by a chain of volcanoes of the Quaternary (Neogene) period, rising above the plateau by 500–1100 m. The plateau slopes to the Pacific Ocean and is densely covered with rivers and stream valleys, cutting as deep as 100–400 m into the landscape. There are eight active volcanoes within this area: Kikhpinych, Krasheninnikov, Kronotsky, Komarov, Gamchen, Kizimen, Taunshits and Vysoky). There are many thermal fields, with hydrothermal and fumarole activity, as well as hardened lava flows. Almost the entire modern landscape of this area was formed by intense volcanic activity during the late Quaternary period.

The coastal zone is a narrow strip ranging in width from 20–70 km. There are two very different areas here: the mountain ranges of the Kronotsky Peninsula and the littoral plain abutting Kronotsky Bay. The Kronotsky Peninsula is a highly partitioned mountain mass with average elevations of 600–800 m and a maximum elevation of 1200–1300 m in the central part. The rocky slopes of the range drop abruptly to the ocean. The coastline of the peninsula is gradually rising. This area is one of the most tectonically active on Kamchatka. The rate of lifting is 4–6 mm annually. The coast of Kronotsky Bay is a littoral plain, particularly waterlogged, only having recently emerged from beneath sea level.

Soils

The formation of soils on the territory of the reserve is synchronized with the process of sedimentation of layers of volcanic origin. As the distance from volcanoes increases, the influence of ash fall decreases, and soil-forming materials possess a finer mechanical structure. Recurrent vigorous eruptions are accompanied by covering of the ground with volcanic sands and ash in layers from a fraction of a centimeter to a centimeter. This leads to a peculiar rejuvenation of soils. Previously formed soil horizons are buried, and a complex, multilayer profile is formed. Eight soil types have been defined: ochre-soils; volcanic soils; strato-tephral soils; alluvial-aluminum-ferric-humic soils of dwarf pine and alder; tundra soils; meadow-sod humus; flood soils; peat-volcanic soils; and marsh soils. The most common soils in the reserve are alluvial-aluminum-ferric-humic soils.

Did You Know

Kronotskoye Lake has the greatest area and catchment area, the second-greatest volume, and the third-greatest maximum depth of any freshwater lake on Kamchatka