Sarez lake: the fatal attraction of the Pamirs

Sarez lake, located in the Pamirs, impresses with its size and rugged beauty. Today it is a tourist pearl of Tajikistan and attracts tourists from around the world. But for local residents, the pond is not only magnificent landscapes and currency from the wallets of travelers, but also a source of fear, which lives for several generations the highlanders.

Sarez lake: the fatal attraction of the Pamirs

Looking ahead to the Sarez lake, you might think that it was in the high valley of bartanga since time immemorial. But it is not — one of the largest in Central Asia Alpine lakes appeared recently, and in geological terms, almost only in the early XX century. This lake is podrobnym the reservoir, and this means that it owes its origin to the obstruction of the riverbed rocks.

The most dangerous lake of Central Asia can be considered also the most beautiful

Date of birth of Sarez lake can be considered on 18 February 1911 when the earthquake huge volumes of rock blocked the valley of the river Bartang (Martab). The result of a natural disaster formed the so-called Usoy dam, which is now considered the biggest in the world and the largest in the last few thousand years.

Sarez lake: the fatal attraction of the Pamirs

So the lake and its surroundings appear on the map

The extent of the blockage and really impressive — it stretches for 5 km long, 3.2 km wide, 567 metres high and contains a 2.2 cubic km of rock. Stopped by this obstacle Bartang river began to form a lake, which was fully developed by 1926. The first three years of a natural dam completely blocked the path of the water, but in 1914, the researchers found the first signs of leaks. Through the Usoy dam fought small but numerous springs, providing some relief water.

The weakest point of the dam usolskogo

At this point, the depth of the lake Sarez was more than 270 metres and continued to increase. In 1918, the water level reached 477 meters and she spilled 75 miles from usolskogo of the dam. Now the depth of the lake even more — 505 meters. The length of the pond is unstable — it varies from 65 to 75 km, depending on the quantity of glaciers, and rainfall.

Sarez lake: the fatal attraction of the Pamirs

Valley residents are at risk every second, but continue to live as their ancestors lived before the advent of the treacherous lake

Beautiful Sarez lake is a dangerous natural site, a threat that spread on 4 Central Asian countries: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The surface area of the lake is 80 sq km, this means that at half a kilometer the depth of it holds up to 17 cubic km of water. The absolute height of the lake above sea level — 3255 m In the case of dam all this water wall will rush in along the bartanga valley, sweeping away everything in its path. Bartang flows into the Panj river and this, in turn, feeds the Amu Darya. At the break usolskogo of the dam, the water will rise significantly in all of these rivers and even in the almost dried-up Aral sea.

Sarez lake: the fatal attraction of the Pamirs

The first issue of the Sarez lake was raised soon after its occurrence. Plan of lake Sarez and usolskogo of the dam, made by the chief of the Pamir detachment of the G. A. Shpilko in October 1913

The risk of such disaster is quite real. In the mid 60-ies of the Soviet expedition discovered in the rubble the place that can theoretically be the location of the breakout. For the worst-case scenario is the earthquake in 7 points, and as you know, the Pamir mountains are considered to be one of the most seismically active zones of Eurasia. Geologists say that the probability of failure usolskogo Zavala is rather high, as studies have shown that lakes, such as lake Sarez, only in the Quaternary period have come and gone in the valley of bartanga at least 9 times.

The lake has a very sparse flora and fauna, so it is sometimes called "dead"

Hard to say, they disappeared because of the earthquake or the debris was destroyed by water due to abnormal rain, but that and the Sarez lake will sooner or later cease to exist, it is obvious. A natural dam holding a huge volume of water over the past few decades slipped by 60 m, which occurred due to natural compaction of the breed.

In Sunny weather the water in the lake is an amazing turquoise color

But the flood is not the only danger that threatens the edges of a mountain lake. The collapse in the waters of the lake may cause the displacement of a large volume of water, which, mixed with rocks will turn into destructive debris flows.

In the 60-ies of the last century, the place where a possible landslide, was discovered one of the expeditions. This area received the official name "the right-Bank landslide". Such a cataclysm is less dangerous than dam, but SEL will also cause a lot of troubles to residents of the region.

The scheme of the right Bank landslide

To solve the problem of Sarez lake, which, in essence, is a time bomb, trying for more than 40 years. In the 70-ies has developed a construction project on Usolskom dam hydroelectric. The dam would strengthen the weak natural dam, and discharge through the hydraulic structure would lower the water level in the lake at least 100 meters. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the hydropower project has remained on paper.

Monitoring station — the only hope local residents and hundreds of thousands of people living at risk in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

In 2000, the governments of countries whose residents are at risk of flooding, asked for help in solving the problem to the international community. The world Bank has allocated funds in 2006 on the shores of lake Sarez appeared a monitoring station. A warning system related equipment at the plant, aimed to prevent local authorities and the population on the break and give time to evacuate from the area of possible flooding.

Fishing on the lake Sarez — a dubious enterprise. The lake harbors only three species of fish and their population is very modest

It is possible that the idea is not so bad, but many experts looking at her skeptically. They believe that the station equipment at the dam will be destroyed first and is unlikely to have time to notify about the disaster. Much more likely to give salvation to the inhabitants of the area at risk of the so-called "Islands of security". This is especially scientifically selected natural hills located close to settlements, which housed the warehouses with clothes, provisions and medicines.

People are instructed how to behave if the water in the Bartang and Pianj rivers will begin to rise sharply, but their salvation will depend on many factors. To avoid massive loss of life, in the event of a disaster, will only help the overall organization and concerted action of local authorities.

Keywords: Mountain | Flood | Lake | Pamir

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