Geological Journeys: Exploring the Volcanoes of Iran
What you will read in this article:
Damavand is a mountain located in northern Iran and is the highest peak in Iran, the Middle East, and the highest volcanic peak in Asia. This peak is 69 kilometers northeast of Tehran, 62 kilometers west of Amol, and 26 kilometers north of Damavand.
The Damavand cone, situated in the central Alborz mountain range, has the most prominent volcanic activity of the “Quaternary” period. Except for some minor eruptions recently discovered, no new activity has been identified, so it is often termed a semi-active volcano.
The cone of this peak is well-formed, situated above eroded mountains that reach four thousand meters in elevation. The mountain’s slopes are covered by lava flows spanning 400 square kilometers. The newest lava flows are located on the western slopes of the cone, which also has local ash cones.
At 100 meters on Damavand’s southern side, gases are visible. Additionally, there’s a lake covered with ice inside this volcano’s crater, which is 300 meters in diameter. From a geological standpoint, Damavand is an active volcanic system. Still, its activity is limited to steam and gas emissions, hot springs, and some surface manifestations associated with a volcanic system, impacting the form and shape of valleys and causing various landslides.
Damavand is a dormant volcano, but there’s a possibility it might reactivate. In specific years, such as 2007 (1386 Persian calendar), there was an increased emission of smoke and steam from the peak. Some witnesses thought this signified the volcano’s reactivation. Still, in reality, during high precipitation years, water infiltrates the height, contacts hot rocks, and a steam plume emerges from the summit, making it seem like there’s volcanic activity.
Taftan is the only active volcano in Iran. This volcanic mountain is located southeast of Zahedan and northwest of Khash, standing 4,110 meters above sea level. Its main structure consists of two peaks connected by a narrow, saddle-like section. Taftan’s lava covers an area of approximately 1,300 square kilometers, and this volcano has a limited layer of ash.
In Persian, “Taftan” means a place of warmth. This volcano is active, emitting sulfur gases from its crater. Mountaineers generally ascend from its western slope, where a well-equipped shelter has been built. The volcano’s activity produces a distinct white cloud visible from 100 kilometers away, offering a clear view of an active volcano. Taftan is part of a volcanic region that extends up to northern Pakistan, connected to the Sultan volcano in Pakistan, which is now dormant. The earliest activity that formed its current northwestern cone must date back to before the Pliocene era (from the Quaternary period about one-eighth of a million years ago to 10,000 years ago). Taftan’s lava activities during the Quaternary era are primarily andesitic lavas poured over previous tuffs.
Mount Bazman or Bazman Peak is another volcanic mountain in Iran, located in the Sistan and Baluchestan region in southeastern Iran. Although there’s no recorded history of its eruption, the peaks of this volcano are filled with various carbon dioxide vapors.
Bazman is 110 kilometers northwest of Iranshahr and southwest of Taftan Peak, standing 3,503 meters above sea level but rising 2,100 meters above the surrounding terrain. A large lava flow has emerged from its eastern slope. The same lava flow on the northern slope has formed a cone with a sharp and distinct gradient, from which an immense lava flow has emerged.
Several smaller cones made of dark basaltic lava surround the central peak. The tallest mountain is a newly formed cone of large lava fragments with a crater approximately 500 meters in diameter. Bazman appears to be the youngest volcano in Iran. Its volcanic materials cover an area of about 1,400 square kilometers.
Sabalan (also known as Savalan) is one of the highest mountains in Iran, located northwest of the country, in Ardabil province. Sabalan is the third-highest peak in Iran (after Damavand and Alam-Kuh) and is an inactive volcano. The height of this mountain reaches an altitude of 4,811 meters, and there’s a small lake at the top.
On the southern slopes of Sabalan, there are numerous sulfur springs with temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius, and these are the only evidence of the once-active Sabalan volcano. Sabalan Peak has been registered on the list of Iran’s national natural monuments, and a deed for a 6,200-hectare area above the altitude of 3,600 meters of Sabalan Peak has been issued in the name of the Environmental Protection Organization.
Sahand is the name of a volcanic peak and mountain range located south of Tabriz, north of Maragheh, east of Azarshahr, and west of Bostanabad, in the center of East Azerbaijan province. This mountain range comprises 17 peaks with altitudes over 3,000 meters, the highest of which (Ghooch Ghuli Dagi) stands at 3,707 meters, making it the highest point in the province.
The vast Sahand volcano is located 40 kilometers south of Tabriz. It is connected to smaller volcanoes northwest of Lake Urmia and the volcanic centers of Armenia and Ararat near the Iran border. Sahand Mountain has a broad cone formed mainly from abundant ashes. Running water has carved narrow valleys within it.
Geologists believe that the likely emergence of Sahand’s volcanoes is related to the reactivation of the Soltaniyeh-Tabriz fault line that passes through the Sahand region. The volcanic material of Sahand covers various sediments in an area of approximately 4,500 square kilometers.
The absolute age of Sahand’s various lavas indicates they are 12 to 14 million years old. Thus, the Sahand volcanoes have been active in several stages, with periods of relative calm between these operational phases.
The volcanic craters of Ghaleh Hasan Ali Rayen are located in Kerman province. About 30 kilometers southeast of the city of Rayen, around the villages of Ghaleh Hasan Ali, Ghaleh Heydar, and Tootak, there are 14 explosive craters. Initially, researchers believed these craters to be the impact sites of celestial rocks, but after further research, they identified them as volcanic craters that were active between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago.