Karakul (Tajikistan)

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Kara-kul lake.jpg
A mape of Tajikistan with a mark indicating the location of Karakul
A mape of Tajikistan with a mark indicating the location of Karakul
Location in Tajikistan
A mape of Tajikistan with a mark indicating the location of Karakul
A mape of Tajikistan with a mark indicating the location of Karakul
Karakul (Pamir)
LocationPamir Mountains
Coordinates39°02′24″N 73°25′12″E / 39.04000°N 73.42000°E / 39.04000; 73.42000Coordinates: 39°02′24″N 73°25′12″E / 39.04000°N 73.42000°E / 39.04000; 73.42000
TypeImpact crater lake, endorheic
Primary outflowsNone
Basin countriesTajikistan
Max. width52 km (32 mi)
Surface area380 km2 (150 sq mi)
Max. depth230 m (750 ft)
Surface elevation3,900 m (12,800 ft)
Official nameKarakul Lake
Designated18 July 2001
Reference no.1082[1]

Karakul, Qarokul (Kyrgyz for "black lake", replacing the older Tajik name Siob; Russian: Каракуль; Tajik: Қарокӯл) is a 25 km (16 mi) diameter lake[2] within a rather large 52 km (32 mi) impact crater.[3] It is located in the Tajik National Park in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan.

Impact crater[edit]

Karakul lies within a circular depression interpreted as an impact crater with a rim diameter of 52 km (32 mi).[3] Some estimates give its age as relatively recent. Preliminarily, it was thought to be c. 25 Ma[2] or less than 23 Ma.[4] However, it may even be from the recent Pliocene (5.3 to 2.6 Ma).[5] The Earth Impact Database (EID) also lists it as younger than 5 Ma.[3] It is larger than the Eltanin impact (2.5 Ma), which has already been suggested as a contributor to the cooling and ice cap formation in the Northern Hemisphere during the late Pliocene.[6]

The Karakul impact structure was first identified around 1987 through studies of imagery taken from space.[5][7]

Lake description[edit]

As seen from the Pamir Highway

The lake/crater lies at an elevation of 3,960 m (12,990 ft) above mean sea level. A peninsula projecting from the south shore and an island off the north shore divide the lake into two basins: a smaller, relatively shallow eastern one, between 13 to 19 m (43 to 62 ft) deep, and a larger western one, 221 to 230 m (725 to 755 ft) deep. It is endorheic (lacking a drainage outlet) and the water is brackish. There is a small village with the same name on the eastern shore of the lake.[8]


Although the lake lies within a national park, much of the surroundings are used as pasture. The lake, with its islands, marshes, wet meadows, peat bogs, and pebbly and sandy plains, has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports significant numbers of the populations of various bird species, either as residents, or as breeding or passage migrants.

These species include bar-headed geese, ruddy shelducks, common mergansers, saker falcons, Himalayan vultures, lesser sand plovers, brown-headed gulls, Tibetan sandgrouse, yellow-billed choughs, Himalayan rubythroats, white-winged redstarts, white-winged snowfinches, rufous-streaked accentors, brown accentors, black-headed mountain finches and Caucasian great rosefinches. The lake's islands are the main places where waterbirds rest and nest.

The only fish in the lake are Nemacheilus.[8]


Higher than Lake Titicaca, Karakul hosted the Roof of the World Regatta from 2014 to 2017.[9] This replaced the Alpine Bank Dillon Open, held on the Dillon Reservoir in Colorado, United States as the highest sailing regatta in the world.[10]


  1. ^ "Karakul Lake". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Archived from the original on 17 May 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Kara-Kul Structure, Tajikistan". NASA Earth Observatory. 3 June 2004. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  3. ^ a b c "Kara-Kul". Earth Impact Database. Planetary and Space Science Centre University of New Brunswick Fredericton. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  4. ^ Bouley, S.; Baratoux, D.; Baratoux, L.; Colas, F.; Dauvergne, J.; Losiak, A.; Vaubaillon, J.; Bourdeille, C.; Jullien, A.; Ibadinov, K. Karakul: a young complex impact crater in the Pamir, Tajikistan. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2011. American Geophysical Union. Bibcode:2011AGUFM.P31A1701B. Archived from the original on 2020-07-10. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  5. ^ a b Gurov, E. P., Gurova, H.P., Rakitskaya, R.B. and Yamnichenko,A.Yu. (1993) (1993). "The Karakul depression in Pamirs - the first impact structure in central Asia" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science XXIV, Pp. 591-592: 591. Bibcode:1993LPI....24..591G. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-05-09. Retrieved 2017-07-07.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ University of New South Wales (19 September 2012). "Did a Pacific Ocean meteor trigger the Ice Age?". Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  7. ^ Gurov, E. P., The Kara-Kul Lake depression in the Pamirs - A Probable Astrobleme (abstract). Eighth Soviet-American Microsymposium, pp. 37-39. 1988
  8. ^ a b "Karakul lake and mountains". Important Bird Areas factsheet. BirdLife International. 2013. Archived from the original on 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  9. ^ "Karakul, Tajikistan: a Travel Guide". Caravanistan. Archived from the original on 2019-01-14. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  10. ^ "Roof of the World Regatta". TheKiteMag. 12 August 2015. Archived from the original on 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-08.