Alborz ( listen (help·info) Persian: البرز), also spelled as Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran that stretches from the border of Azerbaijan along the western and entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea and finally runs northeast and merges into the Aladagh Mountains in the northern parts of Khorasan. This mountain range is divided into Western, Central, and Eastern Alborz Mountains. The Western Alborz Range (usually called the Talish Mountains) runs south-southeastward almost along the western coast of the Caspian Sea. The Central Alborz (the Alborz Mountains in the strictest sense) runs from west to east along the entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea, while the Eastern Alborz runs in a northeasterly direction towards the northern parts of the Khorasan region southeast of the Caspian Sea. Mount Damavand, the highest mountain in Iran, is located in the Central Alborz Mountains.
The name Alborz is derived from that of Harā Barazaitī, a legendary mountain in the Avesta. Harā Barazaitī reflects Proto-Iranian *Harā Bṛzatī. *Bṛzatī is the feminine form of the adjective *bṛzant- "high", the ancestor of modern Persian boland (بلند) and Barz/Berazandeh, cognate with Sanskrit Brihat (बृहत्). Harā may be interpreted as "watch" or "guard", from an Indo-European root *ser- "protect". In Middle Persian, Harā Barazaitī became Harborz, Modern Persian Alborz, which is a cognate with Elbrus, the highest peak of the Caucasus.
Zoroastrians may identify the range with the dwelling place of the Peshyotan, and the Zoroastrian Ilm-e-Kshnoom sect identify Mount Davamand as the home of the Saheb-e-Dilan ('Masters of the Heart'). In his epic Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi speaks of the mountains "as though they lay in India." This could reflect older usage, for numerous high peaks were given the name and some even reflect it to this day, for example, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains, and Mount Elbariz (Albariz, Jebal Barez) in the Kerman area above the Strait of Hormuz. All these names reflect the same Iranian language compound, and share an identification as the legendary mountain Harā Bərəzaitī of the Avesta.
The Alborz mountain range forms a barrier between the south Caspian and the Iranian plateau. It is only 60–130 km wide and consists of sedimentary series dating from Upper Devonian to Oligocene, prevalently Jurassic limestone over a granite core. Continental conditions regarding sedimentation are reflected by thick Devonian sandstones and by Jurassic shales containing coal seams. Marine conditions are reflected by Carboniferous and Permian strata that are composed mainly of limestones. In the Eastern Alborz Range, the far eastern section is formed by Mesozoic (chiefly Triassic and Jurassic) rocks, while the western part of the Eastern Alborz Range is made primarily of Paleozoic rocks. Precambrian rocks can be found chiefly south of the city of Gorgan situated in the southeast of the Caspian Sea and in much smaller portions in the central and western parts of the Central Alborz Range. The central part of the Central Alborz Range is formed mainly of the Triassic and Jurassic rocks, while the northwestern section of the range is made mainly of the Jurassic rocks. Very thick beds of the Tertiary (mostly of the Eocene) green volcanic tuffs and lavas are found mainly in the southwestern and south-central parts of the range. The far northwestern part of the Alborz that constitutes what is called the Western Alborz Range or the Talish Mountains is made mainly of the Upper Cretaceous volcano-sedimentary deposits with a strip of Paleozoic rocks and a band of Triassic and Jurassic rocks in the southern parts, both in a northwest-southeast direction. As the Tethys Sea was closed and the Arabian Plate collided with the Iranian Plate and was pushed against it, and with the clockwise movement of the Eurasian Plate towards the Iranian Plate and their final collision, the Iranian Plate was pressed from both sides. The collisions finally caused the folding of the Upper Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleogene rocks, and the Cenozoic (chiefly the Eocene) volcanism to form the Alborz Mountains mainly in the Miocene. The Alpine orogeny began, therefore, with Eocene volcanism in southwestern and south-central parts of the Alborz and continued with the uplift and folding of the older sedimentary rocks in the northwestern, central and eastern parts of the range during the orogenic phases of importance that date from the Miocene and the Pliocene epochs.
Ecoregions, flora and fauna
While the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains are usually semiarid or arid with irregular and low precipitation, the northern slopes of the range are usually humid especially in the western parts of the Central Alborz. In the southern slopes or the Elburz Range forest steppe ecoregion, the higher elevations are arid with few trees. Juniper is the most common tree in the inaccessible areas and high elevations, while shrubs are pistachio, maple, and almond. But in the northern slopes, the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion is lush and forested. The natural vegetation of this region grows in distinct zones: the Hyrcanian forests on the lowest levels; beech forests in the middle zone; and oak forests in higher regions. The wild cypress is the dominant form of vegetation in some valleys, while olive trees grow in the western valleys of the Central Alborz near the Sefidrud. The bezoar ibex, Blanford's fox, Rüppell's fox, red fox, Persian fallow deer, wild boar, Syrian brown bear, Persian leopard, Indian wolf, buzzard, goose, woodpecker, griffon vulture, and eagle are among important animals and birds found in the Alborz Mountains. The extinct Caspian tiger also lived in the Alborz Mountains.
Due to the great snowy winters of the Alborz Mountains, there are several ski resorts in different places of the range. Some consider that a few of these are among the best in the world. Some of most important ones are Dizin, Shemshak, Tochal, and Darband.
Mounts, summits, alpine lakes and attractions
- Mount Damavand Amol Mazandaran
- Tochal mount and summit
- Tangeh Savashi, A popular attraction
- Alam Kuh
- Ovan lake
- List of mountains in Iran
- List of Iranian four-thousanders
|Map of central Alborz||Peaks:||1 `Alam Kūh|
|2 Āzād Kūh||3 Damāvand|
|4 Do Berar||5 Do Khaharan|
|6 Ghal`eh Gardan||7 Gorg|
|8 Kholeno||9 Mehr Chal|
|10 Mīšīneh Marg||11 Naz|
|12 Shah Alborz||13 Sīālān|
|14 Tochal||15 Varavašt|
|1 Alamūt||2 Chālūs|
|3 Do Hezār||4 Harāz|
|5 Jājrūd||6 Karaj|
|7 Kojūr||8 Lār|
|9 Nūr||10 Sardāb|
|11 Seh Hazār||12 Shāh Rūd|
|2 Chālūs||3 Karaj|
|E Emāmzādeh Hāšem||K Kandovān Tunnel|
|* Latīān Dam||** Lār Dam|
- North, S.J.R., Guide to Biblical Iran, Rome 1956, p. 50
In popular culture
Mount Damavand is featured twice as an online multiplayer map in the game Battlefield 3. In the game it is featured in Damavand Peak and Alborz Mountains.
- Alborz Mountains, Photos from Iran, Livius.
- Maps, Photos and a List of peaks
- NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day: Alborz Mountain Milky Way (3 May 2008)
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