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Kazakhstania ( kk, Qazaqstaniya), the Kazakh terranes, or the Kazakhstan Block, is a geological region in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
which consists of the area roughly centered on
Lake Balkhash Lake Balkhash ( kk, Балқаш көлі, ''Balqaş kóli'', ; russian: озеро Балхаш, ozero Balkhash) is one of the largest lakes in Asia and 15th largest in the world. It is in the east of Central Asia Central Asia is a region ...

Lake Balkhash
, north and east of the
Aral Sea The Aral Sea (Aral ; kk, Aral teńizi, Арал теңізі, uz, Orol dengizi, Орол денгизи, kaa, Aral ten'izi, Арал теңизи, russian: Аральское море) was an endorheic lake lying between Kazakhstan Kaza ...

Aral Sea
, south of the Siberian craton and west of the
Altai Mountains The Altai Mountains (), also spelled Altay Mountains, are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simil ...

Altai Mountains
. The
Junggar basin Junggar Basin is one of the largest sedimentary basin Sedimentary basins are regions of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land cons ...
in
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, is also part of Kazakhstania, though sometimes referred to as the Junggar Block. Because the Kazakh terranes merged during the Late Ordovician as part of the
Central Asian Orogenic BeltThe Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB, also known as the Central Asian Foldbelt (CAFB), or the Altaids) is one of the largest accretionary orogens on Earth and evolved over some 800 million years from the latest Mesoproterozoic to the early Triassic ...
they are also referred to as the Kazakh Orogen. These terranes are located in what is today
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
, north-eastern
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes), is a doubly landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...

Uzbekistan
, northern
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
, south-western
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
. Today Kazakhstania is surrounded by three large, former continents: to the north-east the Gornostaev Shear Zone separates it from
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...
with which it collided during the
Carboniferous The Carboniferous ( ) is a geologic period The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology, paleontologists, and other ...
; to the north-west is
Baltica Baltica is a paleocontinent A paleocontinent or palaeocontinent is a distinct area of continental crust 350px, The thickness of Crust (geology)#Earth's crust, Earth's crust (km) Continental crust is the layer of Igneous rock, igneous, Sedim ...
which lay adjacent to the Kazakh Turgai Valley, Tourgai terrane but far away from Kazakhstania; to the south and east was Gondwana stretching from the South Pole to the Equator. Not far away from the dispersed Kazakh terranes were South China Craton, South China, North China Craton, North China, and Tarim Block, Tarim, but how these continental blocks were positioned relative to Gondwana is not known.


Tectonic evolution

In the Early Palaeozoic the Kazakh terranes were widely distributed north or northeast of the Mangyshlak Peninsula, Mangyshlak, Karakum Desert, Karakum, Karakoram, Karakorum and Tarim Basin#Geology, Tarim terranes. The location, origin, and faunal affinities of these terranes has, however, been the subject of two competing hypotheses: one described these terranes as an enormous island arc called the Kipchak arc, the other as a series of more or less parallel belts. Faunal analyses indicate that some of the terranes probably originated in Gondwana rather than Baltica or Siberia. A 2006 analysis of brachiopods indicated that the Chu-Ili Mountains must have formed an independent, Peri-Gondwanan terrane in the Late Ordovician located not far from the North and South China cratons. More recent studies suggest that in the Late Ordovician the Kazakh terranes formed an archipelago composed of clusters of island arcs and microcontinents centered on the Equator. Key units in this assemblage were the Boshchekul (in north Kazakhstan), Chingiz-Tarbagatai (east Kazakhstan), and Chu-Ilu (south Kazakhstan) terranes. The Atashu-Zhamshi microcontinent was located in the southwestern margin of the archipelago. A few terranes probably merged as early as the Middle Ordovician but Kazakhstania is very unlikely to have formed a single continent before the end of the period.; For a map of the Kazakh terranes see ; For a Late Ordovician reconstruction see During the
Carboniferous The Carboniferous ( ) is a geologic period The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology, paleontologists, and other ...
and Permian, Siberia collided with Kazakhstania to form the
Altai Mountains The Altai Mountains (), also spelled Altay Mountains, are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simil ...

Altai Mountains
, later
Baltica Baltica is a paleocontinent A paleocontinent or palaeocontinent is a distinct area of continental crust 350px, The thickness of Crust (geology)#Earth's crust, Earth's crust (km) Continental crust is the layer of Igneous rock, igneous, Sedim ...
collided in the Ural orogeny, creating the basis for most of present-day Eurasia.


Commercial importance

Kazakhstania is mainly flat: only in the east near Karaganda are there mountains and these only rise to 1,565 metres (5,130 feet) in the Tarbagatai Mountains, Tarbagatay Range. Although most of Kazakhstania is arid and practically no water flows from the region to the oceans, there is extensive grazing of cattle, sheep and Bactrian camel, camels on the grasslands which cover most of the region today. Kazakhstania was too dry for extensive glaciation during the Quaternary. Kazakhstania contains as much as a quarter of the world's proven uranium reserves and is also one of the world's major source of lead, zinc, and antimony ores. On the southern boundary in the Turan Depression are large deposits of natural gas.


See also

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References


Notes


Sources

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External links


Map of the Kazakhstan Block and surrounding areas
{{Continents of the world Geology of Kazakhstan Historical continents Paleozoic Asia Carboniferous geology Permian geology Geography of Kazakhstan Geography of Xinjiang Natural history of Asia