The Kondyor Massif

The Kondyor Massif is the world-only circular mountain system located in Eastern Siberia, Russia. Imagine the famous Alps that are not elongated but folded in a perfect circle…

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Michon Scott

Structural fabrics of the Kondyor Massif

Kondyour mountain range

The Kondyour mountain range, aerial view / Mcvld (WC)

The Kondyor Massif forms a huge circle and its true scale can be seen only from space.

However, the local population (the Evenkis and the Yakuts) always considered this place to be sacred and called it Urgula.

The Kondyor Massif is 8 km (5 mi) in diameter, with the height of its impressive vertical walls ranging from 1200 m (3937 ft) to 1387 m (4551 ft).

Initially, scientists assumed that the Kondyor Massif was formed after a meteorite or even a large asteroid hit the land there. Later this theory was disposed. The hypothesis about an immense volcano also had not been proved.

It is most likely that the Kondyor Massif was formed when an ancient volcano erupted. As a result, magma rose from its core up to the crust. Its pressure was so high that it managed to considerably uplift rock. Nevertheless, it was not enough to burst earth surface and form a volcano.

The origin of the Kondyor Massif still remains unknown.

The Kondyor River

Interestingly, the Kondyor Massif consists of rock that cannot hold water. The Kondyor River which originates in this enormous crater seems to cut through a perfect rocky circle.

The nature of the Kondyor Massif is very diverse and greatly differs from surrounding swamps. This region is a favorable place for bears.

Platinum

The insides of the Kondyor Massif are full of precious platinum (platinum is much more expensive than gold). These platinum deposits are unique since they lie not in the depth of the mountain but right on its surface. Furthermore, it is the first time when geologists found platinum in the form of gigantic nuggets, with the weight of 1 500 g (3.3 lb) – 3 500 g (7.7 lb)! Some of these nuggets look like crystals, mostly hexahedrons and rarely octahedrons. Before scientists found these formations they had no idea that platinum could exist in the form of nuggets, let alone crystals.

It is worth mentioning that the platinum stones found in the Kondyor Massif are covered with the so-called “golden shirt”, i.e. a thin layer of gold (to 1 mm/0.5 l).

Besides, geologists have studied the Kondyor Massif and discovered new minerals which have never been found in other places. Moreover, the Kondyor Massif is rich in gold and other precious metals.

For several decades people have been mining great amounts of platinum in the Kondyor Massif surroundings (one of the biggest platinum deposits in the world). Unfortunately, ecologists claim that industrial platinum extraction has upset the balance of the Kondyor Massif ecosystem.

How to get there

The Kondyor Massif is located more than 1100 km (684 mi) from Khabarovsk. There is no direct traffic. You can get by plane to Mar-Kuel (a nearly three-hour flight). From there you can travel by car (about five hours) or chopper. This region has no tourist infrastructure.

Visiting the Kondyor Massif can become quite challenging since it is a mining place of such precious metal as platinum. You may need a special permit to go there.

If you did not manage to visit the Kondyor Massif, you should not feel sad as you can freely admire this place on the photos taken from space. 

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