The Khibiny Mountains, Russia

Description of The Khibiny Mountains

Khibiny and mountain tundra are located in the Murmansk region. It is locate in the central part of the Kola Peninsula, which consists of mountainous rocky plateau-tundra, among which there are lakes. The region of active mining, at the same time attracts tourists with its ski infrastructure. The geological age of Khibiny Mountains is about 390 million years. The tops are plateau-shaped, the slopes are steep with individual snowfields. There are 4 small glaciers with a total area of 0.1 km². The highest point is Mount Yudychvumchorr (1200.6 m above sea level). In the center are the plateau Kukisvumchorr and Chaschnachorr. At the foot of the Khibiny Mountains are the cities of Apatity and Kirovsk. At the foot of Mount Vudyavrchorr - Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden-Institute.

 

Climate

The Khibiny combines features of the regional and local mountain climate. The climatic conditions are severe subarctic. The outer slopes of the mountains experience a significant softening effect of the climate of the surrounding plains, and the microclimate of the central part of the massif is much more severe. Snow in the mountains lies from October to June. The average annual temperature in the Khibiny is -2.5/-3.0 degrees. The average temperatures in January-February in the valley areas are −13/−14 degrees, in July - no higher than +13 degrees. With altitude, the air temperature drops by about 0.5 - 0.6 degrees for every 100 meters of altitude. The climatic conditions of the plateaus and peaks are much more difficult than in the valley parts - severe frosts in winter are often combined with strong winds and almost 100% air humidity, which leads to rapid icing of vertical objects.

The polar night lasts from 40 to 42 days. The Khibiny are located beyond the Arctic Circle, which means that every winter winds blow from the waters of the White and Barents Seas. There are frequent cyclones, sharp drops in atmospheric pressure. In the open spaces of the peaks, hurricane winds can blow at speeds up to 50 m/s. Khibiny are quite avalanche-prone in winter. From August to mid-April, you can watch the northern lights.

Summer is short, in the mountains 60-80 days without frost. In the foothills, the period with an average daily temperature above 10°C lasts about 70 days. Summer also receives the maximum amount of precipitation. The polar day lasts 50 days.

In the Khibiny falls from 600-700 mm of precipitation in the valleys, up to 1600 mm of precipitation on the mountain plateaus. During the year, precipitation is distributed almost evenly, a little more in summer, a little less in winter. In summer, about 20% of the days are without precipitation, with an average precipitation of 2 mm per day, in winter, only 10%, with an average precipitation of 1.5 mm per day.

 

Flora and fauna

The Khibiny flora is very valuable. A large number of species included in the "red books" of various ranks grow on the territory of the massif.

In the fauna of terrestrial vertebrates of the Khibiny mountain range, 27 species of mammals, 123 species of birds, 2 species of reptiles, 1 species of amphibians are represented. Almost all mammals of the Murmansk region are also represented. Some of them are classified as protected or on the verge of extinction.

 

Geology

The Khibiny alkaline massif is a large intrusive body of complex shape and composition. The age of formation of the main types of rocks according to Pb-Pb, Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd dating is from 380 to 360 million years ago (Devonian period). A characteristic feature of the Khibiny massif is a ring (in plan) structure, which has a number of analogies among some other alkaline massifs. The rock complexes that make up the massif form, as it were, arcs folded into each other, open to the east, which is explained by the intrusion of magma along alternating ring and cone faults.

About 500 minerals have been found on the territory of the Khibiny massif, of which about 100 have been discovered here, 110 are not found anywhere else. Many minerals have practical value. Apatite, nepheline, titanite, molybdenite and rinkite are or have been mined. Astrophyllite, aegirine, eudialyte are used as ornamental stones.

The peculiarity of the geochemistry of the Khibiny massif leads to the formation of rare minerals and the formation of unique deposits.

Rock complexes that make up the Khibiny massif:
complex of khibinites and endocontact nepheline syenites,
complex of trachytoid khibinites,
rischorrite complex,
complex of ijolite-urtites, malignites and lujavrites,
complex of medium-grained nepheline syenites,
foyaite complex.

Within the limits of the Khibiny massif, mineral associations were found that are not typical for other massifs of alkaline rocks, including topaz and spinel. In the xenoliths of Mount Eveslogchorr, there is a manifestation of corundum, which is used in the jewelry industry - blue sapphire.

 

Mining

The largest deposits of apatite-nepheline ores are located on the territory of the Khibiny massif.

The following mines are currently operating: Kirovsky (Kukisvumchorr and Yukspor deposits), Rasvumchorrsky (Apatite Circus and Rasvumchorr Plateau deposits, Vostochny (Koashva and Nyorkpakhk deposits) and the recently discovered Oleniy Ruchey (Koashva deposit). Mining is carried out both underground and The number of open pit mining is declining and soon the development of deposits will be carried out only by underground mining.

The main minerals mined in the Khibiny are: apatite, nepheline, sphene, aegirine, feldspar, titanomagnetite. Previously mined lovchorrite. The massif contains in its bowels the largest reserves of zirconium raw materials (zircon, eudialyte) and its accompanying hafnium (zircon), which are not currently mined. At the same time, a significant amount of this raw material is currently stored in the tailings of the apatite-nepheline factory.