Lake Van - Turkey

from ESA Website


Based on historical and anecdotal information available, it is believed that the Turkish Van cat originated here. The breed was first "discovered" in the 1950s by a pair of well-known English photographers, Sonia Holliday and Laura Lushington, who first brought the Turkish Van to the attention of English cat fanciers!

The Lake has a volcanic origin: At some time during the Pleistocene Epoch (10,000 to about 2,000,000 years ago), huge lava flows from the Nemrut and Sipan volcano extended for nearly 60 km across the southwestern end of the basin, blocking westward drainage to the Murat River and thereby transforming the depression into a lake basin without outlet. Research data obtained shows that in I mil. BC the lake level was only 25-30m lower.

Situated at 1719 meters above sea level it receives a few short streams but has no outlet. That is why its waters are unusually rich in sodium carbonate and other salts extracted by evaporation and used as detergents. Swimming in these brackish, "soda" waters, where the only surviving fish is the herring, may result as an original experience, indeed.

Due to the annual inflow, higher than evaporation, the lake level continues to rise: several peninsulas have become islands during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1986-1995 time period a dramatic 2.16 m rise in water level occurred.

There is little left from the original dense wood along its shores. The only remains of ancient woods are in a very small region on the southwestern shore. The intensive pasture of huge Kurdish herds and deforestation for firewood erased even the memory.

Orbit 35968 (ascending) Frame 765 7 March, 2002 19:22 GMT

  • Centre-right: the almost 3000 year old archaeological site of Van.

  • South-west of it: the four islets of Akdamar, Carpanak, Gadir (Yaka) and Kus.

  • Top left, on the western coast: Ahlat and its ruins.

  • On the lake surface: SAR-detected roughness caused by cold, night winds blowing out of the valleys around the lake.

 Lake Van, Turkey  / Lake Van Details

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