The Mystery ofAzhdahak

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The Geghama mountain range is located in the center of Armenia. There have been counted 127 extinct volcanoes which comprise the range. The area is a part of the “new volcanic zone” of the Armenian tablelands north volcanic arc.

The Azhdahak mountain group consists of four late Quaternary volcanoes: Azhdahak, Kamurch, Tar and Temablur. The first three are located in close proximity, Temablur is in isolation, at a distance of 0.8 – 1 kilometer to the west and north-west.


Mount Azhdahak is also known as Karmirsar and in Turkish as either Kyzyldzhi dagh/ Kyzyl Dagh. The compound slag cone of Azhdahak figures as a large strewn structure up to 1,600 meters in diameter and 370 meters in height. The absolute height of Azhdahak is 3597 meters above sea level. The crater upon it encases a fresh water lake with water mirror at 3509 meters above sea level. The crater diameter from the crest measures 500 meters with a depth up to 90 meters.


A strongly "crept away" accessory lava crater is located on the east slope of the mountain, at a height of about 3470 meters above sea level. From this crater strong boulder streams diverge to the east, north-east and partly to the north, which are falling beyond the bounds of the cone. The second, more extensive and compact adventive crater (up to 350 in diameter) is located on the south slope of the volcano, at the place of the joint with Kamurch, approximately at the same height. Another small stream (length up to 50 meters, power up to 1.5m) flows down from the south-west volcano slope, springing at height of about 3450 meters above sea level. The total area of the lava field partly eroded and overlaped by the streams of Tar, is around 8 square kilometers.

The cone is formed with slags, lapilly, sands, ashes, debris, lava boulders, twisting, composite and spindle-shaped bombs.

Kamurch and Tar


The linearly-local volcano Kamurch is located between Azhdahak (north-east) and Tar (south-west). The extension of Kamurch is up to 1000 meters. The absolute height is 3500 meters above sea level. The boulder stream departs from the volcano to the north-west, which is filled with the lavas of Tar and Azhdahak. The lava field is about 3 square kilometers.


The Tar slag cone has an absolute height of 3530 meters above sea level and figures as a truncated structure. It is 1100 meters in diameter at the base and up to 250 meters high. Located on the top of Tar is the crater encasing a lake. The crest of the crater is 300 meters in diameter. Its south-western section is broken, destroyed by powerful boulder streams that covered great parts of the cone.

Volcano Temablur


The slag compound cone Temablur (Uch-Tana) is manifested by a craterless structure 800 meters in diameter at the base and 140 meters high. The absolute height is 3307 meters above sea level.

Volcano Spitakasar

Spitakasar and Geghasar

The liparite dome-shaped volcano Spitakasar (Buyuk Ak-Dagh), marking a near-meridional fissure nearly 15 kilometers long, along with a similarly created volcano, Geghasar (Kuchuk Ak-Dagh/Small Spitakasar) is located in the Southern part of the Geghama Highland watershed. Spitakasar is a morphologically “blurred” looking dome-shaped (quaquaversal) structure with a 3500 diameter at the base and 500 meter in height. The absolute height is 3560 meters above sea level. The north and east slopes of Spitakasar are strongly indented by glaciers, deep kars are enclosed in them.

Volcano Geghasar

In Geghasar massif the volcanic edifice and "the pedestal" are distinguished from each other, combined from liparite, obsidian, perlite and pumice. The volcanic structure is manifested in two small cupolas with superimposed bases. Аt the top of the volcano is а saucer-shaped shallow cavity 150 meters in diameter. The absolute height of Geghasar is 3446 meters above sea level.

Volcano Nazeli


The age of the volcano Nazeli, flown around by the lavas of Azhdahak, is late quaternary period. The absolute height is 3312 meters above sea level. A funnel-shaped crater opened to the south-west is located at the top of the cone. The crater is 400 meters in diameter and 50 meters in depth. A 4 kilometers long lava stream diverges to the south-west of the cone.

Volcano Gekhmaghan

Gekhmaghan Group: Segan and Gekhmaghan

Gekhmaghan group consists of two joined-together volcanoes: Segan and Gekhmaghan. The age of the volcanoes is late quaternary period. The absolute height of Segan lava cone is 3220 meters above sea level. Segan is formed with lava that diverges outside the volcano and to the west forms a large lava field with an area of 29 square kilometers. The absolute height of the slag cone Gekhmaghan is 3319 meters above sea level. The north-east part of the cone is pulled down by glaciers. The volcano slope from this side is plane. The lower side is "complicated" by the huge talus slopes.

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In writing this paper, use was made of excerpts from the catalogue "Top-pliocene of quaternary volcanos of Armenia SSR, Volcanos of Geghama and Vardenis volcanic areas", A.E. Kocharyan, K.G. Shirinyan.