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Über dieses Buch

This book on Turkish geomorphology offers location descriptions, based on their dynamics and evolution processes, including hydrology, tectonics, volcanism, slopes, coasts, ice/snow, and wind. It presents landforms as a result of evolution (Quaternary, Holocene, historic) and in relation to the elements determining and/or impacting this evolution (vegetation, soil, hydrology, geology, climate, sea level and human action) as well as the resulting landscapes. Richly illustrated with pictures from each site, including geomorphological maps and sections, it explains the risks associated with the geomorphological dynamics (on local and global scales), natural and/or cultural heritage (archaeology, prehistory, history, architectural specifications adapted to the landscape), as well as challenges for human society (endangered landscape, protection/conservation rules/statutes, posters/paintings.).





Chapter 1. Introduction to Landscapes and Landforms of Turkey

This chapter (Introduction) presents the content and organization of the information provided by the book “Landforms and landscapes of Turkey”. The book is divided in two groups of chapters. The first group assembles three chapters which have in common to present thematic data concerning the main types of processes that have been at work in shaping today’s landforms and landscapes of Turkey, and that have given each of the geomorphological regions of Turkey its specificity. Going back to Miocene is necessary for Turkey as the two main processes that led to today’s landscapes have been active since the late Miocene: tectonism and climate. Late Miocene period acted as a turning point both in terms of tectonism, with the start of the “neotectonic period”, and in terms of climate which changed diversely during Pliocene and Pleistocene, with processes affecting diversely the tectonically deformed reliefs, as well as the erosion and preservation of landforms in the country. Three chapters expose this history with: its impacts on today’s physical geography of Turkey (Chap. 2 ), the structural evolution and tectonic regions of Turkey (Chap. 3 ) and the geomorphological regions of Turkey (Chap. 4 ). The second group is composed of 31 chapters composed each with an example of well-known and less-known remarkable landscapes of Turkey, grouped into six themes. Each chapter presents the state of the art and knowledge about the formation of the landscapes and the evolution of the landforms composing them. The last Chap. 32 concerns the risks affecting the landscapes of Turkey today.

Catherine Kuzucuoğlu, Attila Çiner, Nizamettin Kazancı

Chapter 2. The Physical Geography of Turkey: An Outline

The following outline of the physical geography of Turkey is a broad introduction about the four main factors that produce the present characteristics of the Turkish landscapes, i.e. relief, climate, vegetation and hydrography. The nationwide contrasts and spatial variability between the geomorphological regions of Turkey and their present landscapes are indeed rooted in the processes and evolution which have constructed them on the long timescale, within the Anatolian peninsula context. The chapter also discusses two important characteristics of these landscapes on the peninsula scale: the treeless landscapes of many areas from central to eastern Anatolia, and the exceptional richness of Anatolia in endemic flora and fauna species, which makes Turkey a hotspot of biodiversity within the Europe, Middle East and Turano-Iranian areas.

Catherine Kuzucuoğlu

Chapter 3. The Tectonic Control on the Geomorphological Landscapes of Turkey

The multifarious landforms making up the landscapes of Turkey are largely controlled by tectonic activity since the last 11 Ma, at most 23 Ma making surface correlation by elevation alone hazardous. This “neotectonic episode” is characterized by tectonic escape that created five neotectonic provinces in the country: (1) the shortening east Anatolian province corresponds to the eastern Anatolian highlands; (2) the gently E–W-shortening north Turkish province; (3) extensional west Anatolian province; (4) the gently NE–SW-shortening and NW–SE-extending Ova Province; and (5) the border folds (Assyrides) of the northernmost Arabian Plate. In each of these provinces, the rate and history of uplift, history of climate and rock types have dictated the details of land sculpture. Volcanic landforms dominate in the east, and karst dominates in the south. The other regions display more varied morphological types controlled mainly by rock type and climate. Although Turkey is moderately endowed in fossil glacial and periglacial forms, active glaciers are few and restricted to the high mountains in the extreme south-east of the country.

Catherine Kuzucuoğlu, A. M. Celâl Şengör, Attila Çiner

Chapter 4. The Geomorphological Regions of Turkey

The core of Turkey’s land is the Anatolian Peninsula, which is surrounded by several seas (Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black Sea). Offering a high variety of morphological landscapes, Anatolia is an orogenic plateau bordered to the north by one of the world’s most seismically active strike-slip faults, the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ), to the south by the Cyprus and Hellenic subduction margins, to the west by the Aegean extensional zone, and to the east by the East Anatolia Fault Zone (EAFZ) and Bitlis–Zagros collision zone. In this context, first-order morphotectonic features are primary contributors to complex and unique landscapes both in and around the peninsula. This role appears first in the citadel-like relief of Anatolia, whose hill and mountain slopes steepen quickly from the coastal zones in direction of the plateau. From the west–eastward, the relief rises also steadily but less abruptly. Anatolian highlands thus form a barrier capturing the humidity generated by the seas. In return, its springs and rivers deliver abundant water to the lowlands around. Interacting with the relief organization, river paths and networks are thus impacted, not only by tectonic movements but also by several other geomorphological processes which are at work in shaping of the Anatolian landscapes. While relief generates hydrography and landscape contrasts, climate and lithology control hydrology and vegetation as well as weathering processes. In the meantime, volcanic activity and karst development produce some of the most outstanding landscapes in the country. This chapter aims to present the richness of these landforms, as well as to explain how and when they were formed. To that end, six regions are identified, each of them corresponding to a specific mix of landscapes and land-forming factors. These six regions are: Northern Anatolia (Black Sea), Western Anatolia (Aegean), Mediterranean Anatolia, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia and South-eastern Anatolia. We define each region on the basis of first, physiographic description (relief, climate, phytogeography, hydrography), allowing the identification of (i) subregions corresponding to a certain group of landforms and (ii) the spatial distribution of these landforms within the region. This first task is followed by the presentation of the structural background, insisting on tectonics and dominant lithologies as well as the stratigraphic data pointing to the differential erosional context inscribed in ancient morphologies. Based on this geologic information, the third part exposes landforms resulting from morphological processes acting through time. This task groups the regional landforms according to the main geomorphological agents and processes that produced them. It underlines the importance, in the formation of the present landscapes, of the interplay between different factors, whether tectonic or climatic, karstic or volcanic, hydrographic or hydrologic… and the importance of time in the preservation and transformation of landscapes. The human action is evoked when its influence has been important in today’s landscapes, either because of duration, or because of specific cultural or historic contribution. This evocation is especially critical for areas where human’s action has transformed landscapes throughout the Holocene period, or where it has been studied thoroughly.

Catherine Kuzucuoğlu, Attila Çiner, Nizamettin Kazancı



Chapter 5. Karstic Landscapes and Landforms in Turkey

Approximately, 40% of Turkey’s landmass consists of soluble rocks (limestone, dolomite, and gypsum) highly suitable for karstification. While presenting different lithological composition, lithostratigraphic and structural characteristics, these rocks reach in some places up to 4000 m in elevation. Tectonic movements since the middle Miocene have played, together with climate, a major role in the processes of karst development. Several factors intervene in the formation processes and history of the karstic landscapes of Turkey: structural dynamics (mainly extensional tectonics and block faulting) and its spatial distribution, relief rejuvenation responding to the combination of uplift intensity and sea-level changes and the stratigraphic/lithologic context. Resulting from the various combinations possible, there are large-scale differences in the evolution of the karstic landscape within short distances. Consequently, six karstic regions and eleven distinct sub-karstic areas can be identified on the basis of their different morphogenetic and morphometric characteristics.

Lütfi Nazik, Murat Poyraz, Mustafa Karabıyıkoğlu

Chapter 6. Gypsum Karst Landscape in the Sivas Basin

The Tertiary Sivas Basin, Central Anatolia, includes one of the most outstanding gypsum karst terrains in the world, covering an area of 2140 km2. This gypsum karst significantly contributes to enrich the diversity of karst landscapes in Turkey and constitutes an excellent natural laboratory for understanding their evolution because it develops and degrades much faster than carbonate karst landscapes. The ENE–WSW trending Sivas gypsum karst terrain is 280 km long and 55 km wide. The karst landscapes are mainly developed on Oligocene gypsum deposits. Sivas gypsum karst terrain has a wide variety of well-developed karst features such as karren, different types of dolines (solution, collapse and suffosion), blind valleys, karst springs, swallow holes (ponors), karstified paleo-valleys, caves, unroofed caves, natural bridges, gorges, uvalas and poljes. Solution dolines, which riddle a large part of the area, are the most common landform. The Kızılırmak River and its tributaries drain the Sivas Basin. Therefore, Quaternary evolution of the Kızılırmak River has played an important role in the long-term evolution of the karst landscape in the basin. Karst development in some parts of the basin has also been affected by halokinetic structures.

Uğur Doğan, Serdar Yeşilyurt

Chapter 7. The Antalya Tufas: Landscapes, Morphologies, Age, Formation Processes and Early Human Activities

Tufa formation is a very common feature in the geological record of the Antalya region where it covers an area of 630 km2 and is up to 280 m thick. The oldest date obtained from this tufa deposit is >600 ka, and the youngest one is modern. Characteristic water landscapes are falls/cascades, fluvial channels and local pools. This tufa forms three major plateau systems that developed during the Quaternary. The upper plateau and the middle plateau are exposed above the sea, and the lowermost plateau is below sea level. Stable isotopic data (δ18O, δ13C) of Antalya Tufa indicate a formation under cold water conditions which were evidently affected by plant-induced CaCO3 precipitation and seasonal temperature changes. The isotopic ages and flora contents of Antalya Tufa clearly indicate that the middle and lower plateaus were formed during the Würmian regression period. Most geochemical and geomorphological data suggest that the deposition processes and morphologic features of the Antalya Tufa are related to sea level changes and climatic forcing rather than to tectonics. In addition to the geological settings of Antalya Tufa, caves and rock shelters located at the base of the southern and eastern limestone slopes of the Katran Mountains above the Döşemealtı tufa surface forming the upper plateau have been intensely occupied by humans intensively during the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic.

Erdal Koşun, Baki Varol, Harun Taşkıran

Chapter 8. Pamukkale Travertines: A Natural and Cultural Monument in the World Heritage List

The actively accumulating Pamukkale travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis are located along the northern margin of the Denizli Basin in Western Turkey and are both included as a mixed natural and cultural property in the World Heritage List. Travertine terraces and pools (terraced-mound travertines) attract visitors to Pamukkale, but fissure-ridge travertines and self-built channel travertines are as attractive as terraced-mound travertines and they should be considered as natural monuments. In addition to major ancient buildings in the city centre of Hierapolis, there are other ancient structures such as quarries, water channels and aqueducts in the Pamukkale area. In order to save these natural monuments and cultural heritages for future generations, boundaries of the existing preservation plan should be enlarged immediately to cover all travertine bodies and cultural structures in the Pamukkale region.

Erhan Altunel, Francesco D’Andria

Coastal Landforms


Chapter 9. Coastal Landforms and Landscapes of Turkey

The Turkish Peninsula is delimited by three surrounding seas (Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas) and one inland sea (Sea of Marmara). Each of them has its own typical coastal geomorphology in terms of variation of the oceanographic, geological and atmospheric conditions. The Black Sea coast is a typical Pacific-type coast in terms of mountain ranges that run parallel to shorelines, which result in the formation of linear and high cliffs only cut by Sakarya, Kızılırmak and Yeşilırmak deltas. The Mediterranean coast also exhibits shoreline-parallel mountain ranges. However, contrary to the Black Sea coastline, the basement rocks are limestone-dominated and therefore karstic processes are decisive in the shaping of coastal morphology. The best example is the Antalya coast where underground rivers fed by the Taurides Mountains, formed travertine terraces. Several erosional and depositional coastal landscapes are represented by steep cliffs, marine terraces, beachrocks, wave-cut platforms and notches. Marine terraces uplifted to several 10s of metres also record relative sea-level changes that occurred since the mid-late Pleistocene. The pattern of the Aegean coast of Turkey is mainly defined by E–W-oriented horsts and grabens as a result of ongoing extension in the region. This tectonic setting facilitated the formation of deltas along the Aegean coastline, where ancient cities and harbours were mainly built during Hellenistic and Roman times. As an inland sea, the Sea of Marmara is developed along the middle and northern strands of the North Anatolian Fault Zone, where uplifted marine terraces are observed.

Attila Çiner

Chapter 10. The Geology and Geomorphology of İstanbul

The city of İstanbul is one of the most ancient sites of human dwelling in the world that has been continuously inhabited until today. It may indeed be the oldest. It enjoys a temperate climate characterised by wet winters and dry summers, although summer showers are not necessarily absent. Its geomorphology has been shaped by the movements of the level of the sea around it and the surface waters sculpting its multifarious rock types creating dominantly fluvial and karstic forms with a rich assortment of drowned coastal features. The Strait of İstanbul, the Bosphorus thracicus of antiquity, formed as a result of the marine invasion during the Flandrian transgression. The sea invaded through a structurally low-positioned watershed located between the oppositely tilted peninsulas of Thrace and Kocaeli (Bithynia). The seawater may have invaded the watershed of the Bosphorus some 8000 years ago, although whether the sea overtopped the Bosphorian watershed 8500 years ago or 7150 years ago is immaterial for the success of the model here proposed. The tilting of the two peninsulas created a fracture network that has controlled ever since the pattern of the fluvial drainage.

A. M. Celâl Şengör, Tayfun Kındap

Chapter 11. The Sinop Peninsula: The Northernmost Part of Asia Minor

The Sinop Peninsula is located at the northernmost part of the Asia Minor (Anatolia). Its geographic position between the Central Pontide Mountains and the Black Sea together with the presence of young geological units and landforms provides favorable conditions for understanding onshore and offshore geological and geomorphic processes acting along the northern Anatolian coasts. Here, we focus on some landscapes that constitute one of the best examples along the Turkish Black Sea coast. These are inundated fluvial valleys, uplifted isthmus and marine terraces, and paleo- and active dunes.

Cengiz Yıldırım, Okan Tüysüz, Tolga Görüm

Chapter 12. Landscape Development and Changing Environment of Troia (North-western Anatolia)

Troia, the epic city of ancient times, has a unique geographical position at the entry of the Çanakkale Strait. This area consists of Upper Miocene shallow marine sediments, which constitute a low horst–graben system. Between plateau ridges about 50–100 m high, the lower course of the Karamenderes (ancient Scamander) River flows in an alluvial plain. During the Holocene sea-level rise, marine intrusion transformed this part of the valley into a marine embayment. In this area, the relative sea level reached its present position ca. 7000–6000 years ago, and the coastline arrived close to the southern end of the embayment. Then, deltaic progradation processes of the Karamenderes River dominated the embayment filling, leading the coastline to reach the west of Troia ca. 4000 years ago. A 2–3 m sea level fall during the Late Bronze Age (LBA) was probably caused by the acceleration of the deltaic progradation. Later, slightly rising sea reached to the present level again around the time of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD). However, alluviation compensated this small sea-level rise, and deltaic progradation continued slowly to reach the coastline to the Çanakkale Strait.

İlhan Kayan

Chapter 13. Rapid Delta Growth in Historical Times at Ephesus and Miletus—The Examples of the Küçük and the Büyük Menderes Rivers

Postglacial sea-level rise led to the development of extended marine gulfs in the grabens of the western margin of the Anatolian Plate. During the last seven millennia, these marine indentations have silted up due to the continued progradation of the deltas of major rivers. Good examples of this geomorphological metamorphosis from ria coasts to delta–floodplains are the Küçük Menderes (Cayster, Kaystros) and the Büyük Menderes (Maiandros, Maeander) valleys, with Ephesos and Miletos, respectively, as the most prominent ancient cities. This article outlines the spatio-temporal scenarios of these fundamental landscape changes. They are based on geoarchaeological criteria, archaeological evidence and information from literary sources.

Helmut Brückner

Chapter 14. Landscape Development of the Eşen Valley and Delta Plain (Letoôn and Patara Sites)

The Eşen valley lies in a graben extending north–south in the south-west of Anatolia. Ca. 50 km long, it opens south to the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounding mountain slopes consist generally of carbonate rocks. They produce a large amount of coarse alluvium deposited in the main valleys by braided channels. During the Neogene, a lake occupied the graben. In the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene, the uplift of the region resulted in the river meanders incising a low plateau. In south of a narrow gorge (Kınık gorge), the Eşen River discharges to the Mediterranean Sea through a wide delta plain. Core studies revealed that the rapidly rising sea covered most of the present delta area during the middle Holocene. After the sea level maximum reached during the middle Holocene (ca. 7–6 ka BC), prograding dynamics led to the formation of the present delta plain which reached its final morphological configuration during the recent millennia. Since the ancient times, the Eşen delta has been an important settlement area, with the Xanthos, Letoôn and antic harbour city Patara being the best-known ancient settlements in the delta. These and other ancient sites have been influenced by environmental changes during the late Holocene.

Ertuğ Öner



Chapter 15. The Lake Basins of South-west Anatolia

The part of south-west Anatolia called the “Lake District” neighbouring the Mediterranean region of Turkey, includes nine large and over twenty small lakes that are mostly tectonic and some karstic in origin. These lacustrine basins are disseminated within depressions of the Taurus Mountains that are part of the Alpine–Himalayan belt. Here, the Taurus makes a morphological curve towards the north (Isparta Angle or Bend in the literature) due to the collision of the African and Anatolian plates during the early Neogene. The curvation resulted in depressions convenient for lakes. The largest freshwater lakes of the country (Beyşehir and Eğirdir), the most saline ones (Acıgöl and Salda), the slightly saline ones (Akşehir and Burdur) and the deepest ones (Burdur and Salda) occur here together in the same area, most probably because of special characteristics of drainage systems, source rocks and the above-mentioned tectonic development. Altitudes of lakes are around 850–1100 m a.s.l. The region, however, is mountainous and some peaks are above 2500 m, making the region attractive for settlements since early Neolithic time (e.g. Suberde ca 7500–7000 cal. BC, Erbaba 6500–6000 cal. BC, Eflatunpınarı 1300–1200 cal. BC).

Nizamettin Kazancı, Neil Roberts

Chapter 16. Salted Landscapes in the Tuz Gölü (Central Anatolia): The End Stage of a Tertiary Basin

Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake) is a large salt lake located in the heart of Anatolia. Long-term morphological development of the lake is controlled by the Tuz Gölü Fault Zone and the İnönü-Eskişehir Fault System. The Central Black Sea Mountains in the north and the Taurus Mountain Belt in the south are major climatic barriers generating a precipitation shadow effect on the Anatolian Plateau that worsens the continental climatic conditions characterized here by cold winter, hot summer and relative dryness. Climate, together with active tectonics, let Tuz Gölü to preserve a water depth of maximum 1.5 m. Besides the natural beauty of the outstanding landscapes provided by this shining white lake, numerous salt farms are spread over the lake and neighbouring small lakes. Archaeological data evidence that salt exploitation and trade centres around Tuz Gölü were established since prehistoric and during ancient historic times. This natural and cultural heritage is now threatened by anthropogenic and climatic factors that might lead to its disappearance in a foreseeable future.

Erman Özsayın, Alper Gürbüz, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu, Burçin Erdoğu

Chapter 17. Geomorphological Landscapes in the Konya Plain and Surroundings

Like other large plains of Central Anatolia, the Konya Plain is occupied by deposits and land features recording the past presence of a large lake. Sand beaches and bars, gravel sand lake and coastal fans, fringe the base of low cliffs developed in (i) Neogene lake limestone forming a wide plateau to the north (ca. 1050–1200 m a.s.l.), (ii) Quaternary volcanics in the centre and (iii) Palaeozoic limestone in the south and west. The plain is flat at ca. 980–1000 m a.s.l. and corresponds to the bottom clay of a 4200 km2 large palaeolake. 14C dating performed on Dreissena and mollusc shells collected in quarries exploiting the coastal sand and clay, and also in stream sections and in cores, date the lake to the coldest period of the Last Glacial, the LGM. Together with other formations (e.g. palaeosol, volcanics, alluvial fans), and geomorphological features (e.g. karstic, volcanic, tectonic), these deposits allow understanding today’s landscapes, as well as to reconstruct past landscapes and climates, and their evolution during the late Pleistocene. Tectonically controlled (subsidence), the plain and surroundings are subject to karstic processes. Karstic features are mainly represented by sinkhole (called obruk in Turkish) concentrations in the Obruk Plateau that separates the Konya Plain from the Tuz Gölü Plain. Starting two decades ago in relation to groundwater overuse, the occurrence of new sinkholes, wider and deeper with time, is a matter of great concern in the agricultural areas where they occur, on roads and villages too. Other threats to the environment (e.g. biological diversity, wetlands, soil, water) are linked to resource overuse and sustainability in the context of drying trend since the 1990s.

Catherine Kuzucuoğlu

Chapter 18. Lake Van

Lake Van is the largest soda lake in the world. It is a terminal lake, surrounded by mountains rising to 3500 m a.s.l. The Lake Van Basin is divided into three geological and morphological units: (1) the mostly metamorphic Bitlis Massif pertaining to the Bitlis suture zone to the south-west; (2) Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks (carbonates and volcanics) between the lake and the Turkish–Iranian border, and (3) volcanoes and volcanic products extending from the west to the north-east of the lake. The variety of the geomorphological landscapes around the lake is exceptionally high, with (i) some of the most impressive dormant volcanoes of Turkey; (ii) young (Late Pleistocene to recent) volcanic features such as a lake-filled caldera on top of the beheaded Nemrut Volcano, the solitary Süphan Volcano (the “Tushpa” God of the Urartians which dominates the lake by >1000 m), the fresh basaltic lava flows of the Tendürek Volcano, etc.; (iii) extensive lake terraces filling large valleys where they record impressive variations in lake level at least since the last 200 ka; (iv) travertine mounds associated with fault lines and river valleys; (v) karstic landscapes in the Bitlis Range and in the Tertiary limestones to the north-west, where they are covered by Nemrut ignimbrites and Süphan basalt and obsidian flows; (vi) glacial imprints on the summits of the Bitlis Range and of the Süphan; (vii) active landslides in marine sediments forming the slopes in the south-eastern basin; (viii) strong influences of tectonics on the relief, etc. Like in all Eastern Anatolia, high altitude pastures attract since millennia long-distance migrations of sheep herds seasonally switching between the southern plateaus in Syria and Iraq in winter, and Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus in summer.

Ebru Akköprü, Aurélien Christol



Chapter 19. A Fossil Morphology: The Miocene Fluvial Network of the Western Taurus (Turkey)

In Southern Turkey, east of Antalya, the Taurus chain contains traces of several fossil valleys incised into the most karstic areas of a high surface (1500–2200 m). These streamless valleys exhibit meanders and dry tributaries that are fragments of a former network directed NE-SW, at right angles to the structures of the Taurus chain. All these disconnected landforms are older than the Quaternary tectonic uplift of the chain. This older age is pointed out not only by a difference in orientation between the fossil network and the present drainage (which is not yet fully organised), but also by morphological contrasts between the fossil (wide valleys remnants) and recent (deeply incised rivers in narrow gorges) networks. At lower altitudes in the same area, Miocene conglomerates in the Manavgat Basin contain pebbles that can be confidently traced back to their source areas, owing to their distinctive lithologies. The study of the distribution and content of these conglomerates indicate a detrital origin located inland towards Central Anatolia where specific outcrops are located. While the fossil river network evidenced on the uppermost surfaces of the chain answers the question of how this detrital material could have travelled about eighty kilometres through the Taurus calcareous units, the age of the conglomerates allows dating the uplifted fossil valleys back to the Early Miocene.

Olivier Monod, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu

Chapter 20. Ice in Paradise: Glacial Heritage Landscapes of Anatolia

Lofty mountains of Turkish landscape are shaped by glacial activities in the past. Over the last decade, our knowledge on the Quaternary glacial morphology and timing of glaciations has been notably increased thanks to cosmogenic exposure ages obtained from glacial landforms. Here, we synthesize the current art-of-the-science on the extent and chronology of Turkish glaciations. Glacier-related landscapes are found in three regions: in the Taurus Mountains, in the Eastern Black Sea Region and on volcanoes and independent mountains scattered across Anatolia. The Taurus Mountains show well-preserved examples of lateral and terminal moraines on north-facing glacial valleys and cirques. Hummocky moraines are evident in large areas on Geyikdağ, in the central Taurus Range. The eastern and northern Turkey bear the most noticeable glacial and periglacial features. The only ice cap of Anatolia is located on the summit of Mount Ağrı (Ararat), and the longest valley glaciers are located in the south-eastern Taurus Mountains, near the Iraqi border of Turkey. Cosmogenic dating results from these mountains, especially from the western and northern parts of Turkey, suggest that the oldest glaciers existed well before the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (around 35.000 years (35 ka) ago). However, the most extensive glaciers developed during the LGM, about 21 ka ago. Palaeoclimate on LGM obtained from glacier modelling suggest that the moisture levels were up to two times more near the Mediterranean coast, while it was drier on the central and northern Turkey and 8–11 °C colder than present conditions. Younger glacial advances were generally smaller and dated between 16 and 11 ka ago. Modern glaciers and rock glacier were located only at certain locations, as descendant of the older glaciers. Recent glaciers have retreated significantly since the beginning of the last century, and the retreat rates calculated from historical observations are consistent with the general warming trend of the past century.

Mehmet Akif Sarıkaya, Attila Çiner

Chapter 21. Pleistocene Glacier Heritage and Present-Day Glaciers in the Southeastern Taurus (İhtiyar Şahap Mountains)

Contemporary and past glacial landforms are common in the higher sections of Turkish mountains. The Eastern Black Sea Mountains, the Taurus, and individual high mountains in Central and Eastern Anatolia contain glacier landforms and landscapes, hosting also actual glaciers. The high mountainous landscapes of these regions are deeply marked by the influence of intense glaciation that occurred approximately 20,000 years ago. These landscapes owe much to karstic processes too. In Eastern Anatolia (Southeastern Taurus), glacier morphological heritage from the Last Glacial and contemporary glaciers concentrates in two main ranges. The first one, located in the Southeastern Turkey between Iraqi and Iranian borders, includes the Buzul (Cilo glaciers) and İkiyaka (Sat glaciers) Mountains. The second one, located to the south of Lake Van, is the İhtiyar Şahap Mountains. Compared to the Buzul and İkiyaka Mountains where contemporary glaciers still cover relatively large areas, glaciers in the İhtiyar Şahap Mountains are much smaller. In the İhtiyar Şahap Mountains, the permanent Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) snowline was 2700 m above sea level (a.s.l.). Today, the snowline has risen so high (3200–3300 m a.s.l.) that young moraine deposits and rock glaciers now cover the cirques of the melting glaciers.

Ali Fuat Doğu

Chapter 22. Aladağlar Mountain Range: A Landscape-Shaped by the Interplay of Glacial, Karstic, and Fluvial Erosion

The Aladağlar Mountain Range (AMR) is a large massif mainly composed of carbonate rocks hosting beautiful examples of glacial, karstic, and fluvial erosion. Extreme variations in climate and topography as well as the multitude of diverse geochemical conditions since the early Paleocene allowed development of huge hypogenic and epigenic karst systems. The interplay between the surface and karst drainage systems resulted in an attractive fluvial morphology with large karst springs, travertine bridges, gorges, and valleys. All of the karst valleys spreading from the heights of the AMR-hosted valley glaciers that once flowed down to 1100 m elevation. With its diverse landscape, the AMR is a promising land for tourists, backpackers, trekkers, and mountaineers. Large hanging karst springs, long rafting routes along gorges, travertine bridges, U-shaped glacial valleys and lakes, and challenging peaks are the major landscape attractions.

C. Serdar Bayarı, Alexander Klimchouk, Mehmet Akif Sarıkaya, Lütfi Nazik

Chapter 23. Glacial Landscape and Old-Growth Forests of the Mount Kaçkar National Park (Eastern Black Sea Region)

The Eastern Black Sea Mountains were substantially glaciated owing to the suitable geomorphological-climatological conditions during the Pleistocene. Glacial landscapes occur in valleys higher than 1800–2000 m a.s.l. The altitude of the Pleistocene climatic permanent snowline in the region is 2600 m a.s.l. The mountainous area is important for Turkey owing to six glaciers still present in these highlands. Today the glacier line in the area of Mount Kaçkar National Park is approximately 3000–3100 m a.s.l. Evidence of four glacier advances was found in the Başyayla Valley within Mount Kaçkar National Park area. Kavran Valley lies in the Kaçkar Mountain and is a N-S-oriented, typically U-shaped glacial valley consisting of a main and three tributary valleys. According to the 10Be ages, the advance of the Kavran Paleoglacier began at least 26.0 ± 1.2 ka ago, with the Last Glacial Maximum advance continuing until 18.3 ± 0.9 ka. In the area, there are 10 villages and 35 yaylas. All houses are built with stone and wood. The traditional activities of the population focus on animal husbandry, with a seasonal organization characterized by summer pasturing in the high sections of the mountains. In the National Park, approximately 13000 cattle and sheep migrate seasonally between village and yaylas, while honey production is another significant activity. On the other hand, the region provides exciting activities such as glacier and rock climbing, trekking, heli-skiing and nature photography, which attract foreign and domestic tourists.

İhsan Çiçek, Gürcan Gürgen, Harun Tunçel, Ali Fuat Doğu, Oğuz Kurdoğlu

Chapter 24. The Köroğlu Mountains: The Most Settled Highlands of Anatolia

The Köroğlu Mountains between Sakarya and Kızılırmak rivers form the inner part of the western Pontides. They are 550 km long and 40–60 km in width, with a mean elevation of ca 1800 m a.s.l. The highest point is 2399 m at Mt. Köroğlu, a large stratovolcano that gives its name to the entire highland area. Geographically, these mountains constitute the transitional zone between central and northern Anatolia and therefore have a high geo- and biodiversity. The Köroğlu Mountains have been much more widely used for permanent and temporary (yayla) settlements than other highlands in the country. Essentially, this socio-geographic emphasis has a long-standing basis that stretches from ancient civilizations to the present.

Nizamettin Kazancı, Yaşar Suludere

Tectono Geomorphology


Chapter 25. Fairyland in the Erzurum High Plateau, Eastern Anatolia

In morphotectonics of Turkey, the Eastern Anatolian region lies east of Karlıova where the North Anatolian and East Anatolian faults meet. It is located between the Eastern Black Sea Mountains (Pontides Mountains) in the north and the Bitlis Mountains (Eastern Taurus Mountains) in the south. The region has been experiencing active N-S shortening tectonic regime, and consequent narrowing and uplifting since the late Miocene. The landscape has been shaped during this period, and its features can be attributed to the regional tectonic activity. In addition to structural features, intensive and extensive volcanic activity gave the region plateau-like landscapes, which reach 2500–3000 m asl. The plateau is dissected by several fault-controlled depressions (valleys), whereas in areas adjacent to the Black Sea Mountains the plateau surface is still preserved. Erzurum and Kars Plateaus form the best-preserved parts of the regional plateau incised by the drainage system. The primary configuration of fluvial sediments and synchronous volcanic rocks are still retained on the Erzurum Plateau. The best of such kind may be observable in the vicinity of Narman town. There, Plio-Quaternary sediments are incised by the young drainage system, thus leaving behind well-developed erosional features and a dissected landscape. The erosion of red sediments has resulted in the formation of wide valleys and large pinnacles (the so-called fairy chimneys) on the slopes and allows three-dimensional views of the sedimentary sequence. In addition to its beautiful appearance, the area can be treated as a natural museum with unique erosional forms and depositional features. It is therefore recommended that Narman area should be protected as a geopark.

Fuat Şaroğlu, Yıldırım Güngör

Chapter 26. Landscape Evolution and Occupation History in the Vicinity of Amasya

The modern city of Amasya (NE Central Turkey), hometown of the great geographer Strabo, is a former fortified city of antiquity built in a unique geological and geomorphological setting of a narrow gorge. The gorge is carved into the mountains of the Pontide Range, which connects a major river, Yeşilırmak of the Central Anatolian drainage network, to the Black Sea. Although the kings of Pontus founded the city during the Hellenistic Period, the remains of human occupation of the surroundings can be traced back to the Middle Paleolithic. Continuous settlement during the historical times makes possible to see monuments from different cultures, from Hellenistic to Roman and Seljuk to Ottoman Periods. The city, from foundation to modern times, has direct interaction with the landforms and also with the evolution of the landscape under control of different geomorphological processes. This paper is an attempt to relate this interaction within the cultural geology perspective.

M. Korhan Erturaç

Chapter 27. The North Anatolian Fault and the North Anatolian Shear Zone

The North Anatolian Shear Zone (NASZ) and its most prominent member, the North Anatolian Fault (NAF), initiated some 11 million years ago, together form the northern boundary of the westerly extruding Anatolian Scholle. The NAF has had a remarkable seismic activity between 1939 and 1999 in which the westward migrating earthquake sequence created surface ruptures amounting to about two-thirds of its total length of 1600 km, leaving unbroken only the Marmara Segment, to the west, and the Yedisu Segment, to the east. Both the NASZ and the NAF are located within a broad zone of soft subduction-accretion material forming the suture fill of both the Palaeo- and Neo-Tethyan oceans. In general, the NASZ becomes wider from east to west in harmony with the widening of the zone of accretionary complexes and it reaches its maximum width in the Marmara Lobe. The NAF generally follows a very prominent valley from the Karlıova Triple Junction in the east, to the town of Bolu in the west. Farther to the west, the NAF bifurcates into two strands probably resulting from the existence of structures already established in the west as a result of the Aegean extension. There are many major river courses that cross the NAF where they bend in a clockwise fashion because of the dextral displacement of the fault. In the east, the tributaries of the Fırat (Euphrates) are deflected along a very narrow corridor, but further to the west, other major rivers display a broader zone of dextral deflection. The decreasing cumulative offset from east to the west suggests a diachronous character for the NAF that formed by the progressive strain localisation in this westerly widening right-lateral shear zone. The localisation of the NAF happened during the late Miocene in the extreme east of the shear zone and then gradually tore farther and farther westward at an average rate of some 13 cm/year until it finally reached its present position in the west some 200.000 years ago, although this extreme youth in the west is not yet universally agreed upon. This nucleation did not deactivate the earlier broad shear zone, but left some elements still active, creating earthquakes and shaping the topography, but at incomparably smaller rates.

A. M. Celâl Şengör, Cengiz Zabcı

Chapter 28. Morphotectonics of the Alaşehir Graben with a Special Emphasis on the Landscape of the Ancient City of Sardis, Western Turkey

Neotectonic processes affect human habitation by controlling landform and landscape, natural resources and natural disasters. The Alaşehir Graben of western Turkey, including the ancient city of Sardis, is one of the best areas to observe this interaction between nature and human life. The Alaşehir Graben is a result of the extensional tectonics in the Aegean region. Its southern margin has prominent topography that indicates the major graben-bounding fault system which is located on this side. The northward younging normal fault system and the rotation of previous faults (Alaşehir-type rolling hinge mechanism) have controlled the morphological development of the graben since Miocene times. These geological processes have not only created fertile plains, hot springs and placer gold deposits that attracted human settlements, but also cause natural disasters such as major earthquakes. All these geological issues can be followed in the history of the ancient city of Sardis and also continue today.

Gürol Seyitoğlu, Nicholas D. Cahill, Veysel Işık, Korhan Esat

Chapter 29. The Büyük Menderes River: Origin of Meandering Phenomenon

The Büyük Menderes River is the longest river that discharges into the Aegean Sea, with a length of 615 km. It is one of the main rivers dominating in the geomorphology of western Turkey, with its drainage basin that reaches to 24,000 km2. The river is also very important because of its meandering channel patterns. The term ‘meandering’ in geomorphology, architecture and art originates from the ancient name of this river: Maiandros. Its catchment area mainly consists of three courses located in the main grabens of the region. The upper course of the Büyük Menderes River is located in the Baklan-Dinar Graben, while the middle and lower courses are in the Denizli and Büyük Menderes grabens, respectively. The aim of this study is to describe the meandering channel features of this river in its current course from its source to its mouth, and related landforms and landscapes.

Alper Gürbüz, Nizamettin Kazancı

Chapter 30. Geomorphic Response to Rapid Uplift in a Folded Structure: The Upper Tigris Case

The River Tigris is one of the most significant rivers in the Middle East. All the landscapes drained by the river from Hazar Lake and neighbouring mountains down to the Iraqi–Syrian border in the Cizre region are mainly characterized by folded structures, often faulted, widely affecting limestone series. In this structural context, the incision of rivers shaped Jura-type and Appalachian-type morphologies. Meanwhile, tectonics has also generated rapid changes in the river network. The rapidity of post-Mio-Pliocene uplift caused deep incision of canyons into rising and thrusting folds, and preservation of a few remarkable Mio-Pliocene and Pliocene topographies. The chapter presents a geomorphological survey of the headwaters of the River Tigris, which is formed of two branches. The meeting of these branches (Maden and Birkleyin streams) downstream Eğil city forms the proper River Tigris. The paper examines the landscapes in the Euphrates–Tigris divide area where Hazar Lake is located. Landscapes in both the Maden and Birkleyin basins record the Eastern Anatolian Fault Zone activity during the Pleistocene, with epigenic canyons and meanders, dry valleys resulting from captures, and karstic systems deepening during uplift. Dams (constructed or under construction) have a profound impact in the Tigris and tributary valleys. The end of this programme will provoke the drowning of almost half the main river valley floor down to the Turkish–Syrian/Iraqi border (from Bismil to Cizre) and the loss of ancient settlements, towns and historic heritage that are located along the Tigris floodplain.

Sabri Karadoğan, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu



Chapter 31. A Fascinating Gift from Volcanoes: The Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities of Cappadocia

Cappadocia, at the heart of the Central Anatolia Plateau in Turkey, is famous for its unusual volcanic landscape and rock dwellings. The formation of this landscape dates back to the late Miocene epoch (∼10 Ma) (Ma = Million years) when ignimbrites and pyroclastic deposits started to spread out from a few volcanic centres over an area of 20.000 km2 centred on the plateau. The volcanism continued for several millions of years and laid down thick and colourful ignimbrite layers. The evolution of the Cappadocian landscape is governed by the uplift of the plateau since late Miocene times. Gently sloping plateaus formed by the surface of volcanic pyroclastic flows are later dissected, usually along fractures of soft-unwelded ignimbrites, to form mushroom-like, cone-shaped structures known locally as “fairy chimneys”. Ancient populations also used the ignimbrites to carve their houses, churches and even underground cities. This unique cultural and morphological heritage site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 and today is one of the most visited regions of Turkey.

Attila Çiner, Erkan Aydar

Chapter 32. Quaternary Volcanic Landscapes and Prehistoric Sites in Southern Cappadocia: Göllüdağ, Acıgöl and Hasandağ

The southern Cappadocia shows a large variety of Quaternary volcanic landscapes, offering the opportunity to observe beautiful and generally fresh morphologies. These landscapes include two rhyolitic complexes (Göllüdağ and Acıgöl), a huge composite volcano (Hasandağ) and numerous monogenic vents, with scoria cones, domes and maars. Natural and anthropogenic sections show a large variety of lava flows and tephra layers. The precise study of this volcanic material allows reconstructing the volcanic and geomorphologic evolution of this area during the Quaternary, including modes of emplacements, chronology of the volcanic successions, morphological impacts on the landscapes. In addition, archaeological excavations in southern Cappadocia testify for the presence of ancient populations since the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic. During the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, the southern Cappadocia has been intensively occupied with permanent sites (Aşıklı Höyük, Musular, Tepecik Çiftlik, Köşk Höyük, etc.) as well as non-permanent sites devoted to mining and chopping of obsidian associated with some of the volcanoes.

Damase Mouralis, Erkan Aydar, Ahmet Türkecan, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu

Chapter 33. In the Footsteps of Strabon: Mount Erciyes Volcano—The Roof of Central Anatolia and Sultansazliği Basin

Mount Erciyes is a majestic stratovolcano (3300 km2) dominating Central Anatolian landscape. Its summit is 3917 m high from its base, located at around 1000 m from sea level (e.g., Sultansazlığı basin). The name of Mount Erciyes derives from ancient Greek (Argyros), cited also by Strabon the well-known geographer of Antiquity, who gives a detailed description of it in his famous “Geographika”. According to geological researches performed mainly during the last four decades, the Pliocene and Quaternary evolution of the volcano exhibits two distinct stages: (1) Koç Dağ and (2) Erciyes. Results from cosmogenic as well as 14C dating show that several eruptions occurred during the Early Holocene (ca. 10–8 ka ago). During the Last Glacial Maximum (20,000 years ago), glaciers developed in several valleys of Mount Erciyes, mainly on the northern and eastern sides of the mountain. Today’s landforms at the summit are deeply related to these glacial and periglacial events (Oliva et al. 2018). The beauty of the volcano is also enriched at its foot by the presence of a worldwide known wetland system that Turks call the “Bird Paradise” or the “Marshes of the Sultan”. The plain occupied by these wetlands also contains the sediment archives of climate changes and tectonic impacts during the Pleistocene.

Erkan Aydar, Erdal Şen, Mehmet Akif Sarıkaya, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu

Chapter 34. Quaternary Monogenetic Volcanoes Scattered on a Horst: The Bountiful Landscape of Kula

Kula Volcanic Field hosts unique structures of basaltic volcanism, such as lava flows, scoria cones, maars and pyroclastics. The volcanism took place during the Quaternary, in three stages, where the latest one coincides with human occupation, extending from Late Glacial Maximum towards the Bronze Ages. The fresh looking appearance of the products of this last stage has had direct influence on the cultural development of the ancient societies. Kula stands on an actively tilting plateau in a horst-graben system, in the western Aegean region of Turkey, which is one of the most rapid crustal extensional areas of the Earth. The continuous tectonic activity and erosion processes that affect the region lead to the formation of an inverted topography and many geomorphological monuments in addition to the volcanism. All these geosites have been mapped, identified and organized within the scope of a Geopark, and Kula Geopark is today a certified member of the European and Global Geopark Network of UNESCO.

Erdal Şen, Mehmet Korhan Erturaç, Erdal Gümüş

Chapter 35. Nemrut Caldera and Eastern Anatolian Volcanoes: Fire in the Highlands

Volcanism is one of the main actors in the formation of the Eastern Anatolian landscape. Quaternary volcanism covers a significant area in Eastern Anatolia where Holocene and historical activity have been reported. Nemrut Caldera is one of the youngest volcanoes in the region, with a small-size collapse caldera forming a spectacular landscape. Mount Nemrut is characterized by extension-related peralkaline volcanism in this well-known continental-collisional setting. Following the collapse of the Quaternary caldera, the activity continued within the caldera and at the northern fissure zone. Post-caldera activity shaping the intra-caldera region is represented by domes, lava flows and phreatic/phreatomagmatic explosions. While the products of this activity cover the eastern part of the caldera, the western half of the caldera is filled with a fresh volcanic lake. Hydrothermal activity is marked with fumaroles and hot springs in the caldera. The northern fissure zone produced the youngest effusive activity in Anatolia. Bimodal fissural activity is characterized by successive rhyolite and basalt flows. Historical and mythological records of the Nemrut volcanism are scattered in a wide historical time span. During the Quaternary, Mount Nemrut and Süphan have contributed to the gradual enclosure of Van Lake Basin. They are located on the divide separating the Van Lake Basin from the Murat-Euphrates drainage basin. Products of explosive volcanism of Nemrut Caldera filled the Bitlis and Güzeldere valleys, separating the Van Lake Basin from the Dicle-Tigris hydrosystem.

İnan Ulusoy, H. Evren Çubukçu, Damase Mouralis, Erkan Aydar



Chapter 36. Threats and Conservation of Landscapes in Turkey

Turkey could be subject of a case study for the diversity of risks and threats on landscapes from soil erosion to desertification, from rapid transformation of the nature by waterworks to salinization and to decreasing level of groundwater. Deterioration of the landscapes, particularly of highlands by quarry and mining activities and road-cuts are almost usual results in the country, in spite of intensive conservation efforts of official bodies and volunteers. However, for a proper evaluation of the threats and nature conservation in Turkey, one needs to take into account its geographic position at 26°–45°E/36°–42°N, altitudes differences from sea level to more than 5000 m a.s.l., archaeological and historical past since Göbeklitepe (ca. 12 ka), and its considerable population up to 80 million people. These complex geographic and anthropogenic situations increase the threats on the landscapes. Presently, desertification is a very noticeable risk for Turkey. The significant threats for the nature started in the 1950s by industrialization and expansion of the agriculture. Hundreds of dams built for hydroelectricity and irrigation changed the local climatic conditions and increased land losses. Recently, migrations from rural areas to towns have created new and extra pressure on lands as farmlands are opening for settlements in spite of the presence of conservation rules. On the other hand, growing public awareness on nature conservation seems to be a big hope. Forests, national parks, historical and archaeological sites, biosphere reserves, natural monuments and conservation areas that cover around 27% of the country, is now registered for conservation purposes by different protection legislations, although the effectiveness of these conservation measures has yet to be proven.

Nizamettin Kazancı, Catherine Kuzucuoğlu
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