Khibin's tundra

     The Khibini Mountains, Khibiny circuses rocky and treeless are situated north of 67-th parallel, beyond the Arctic Circle. This is the highest land mass in the Kola Peninsula the summits of which are dotted 800900 metres above the surrounding hilly plain. The highest point in the Khibini (Chasnachorr Mountain) is 1200 metres above sea level and is the highest point in the Peninsula.
   In clear summer weather the Khibini can be seen from many miles away, from Kandalaksha tundras in the south, the frontier heights of Kovdor in the west and even from the hilly banks of the Voronija River in the north.
   The climate in this part of Russia is peculiar in so far as that thaws are frequent in the winter but in the summer and early autumn frosts are not uncommon, especially in the beginning of June and at the end of August.
   Winter lasts about seven months every year in the plains and the month longer usually on the mountains but the temperatures are not so low as those in the similar latitudes of Siberia.
   The climate of Alpine areas is considerable different to those of the nearby lowlands and valleys, for instance, in the plateau Rasvumchorr the winter lasts around 260 days. An average annual temperature is minus 4.3 degrees Centigrade and in the warmest month (July) never climbs past plus 8.2 degrees. Winds on the plateau are gusty and sharp and can reach a speed of 40 metres per second. Snow storms rage around 190 days a year and daily variations of the atmospheric pressure are very sharp the average being around 644 mm of mercury with an average annual precipitation of 1494 mm of which about 919 mm is snow.
   Vegetation in the Khibini Mountains area is disposed into distinct zones. Forests are no higher than 370 metres. The forest-tundra zone spreads up to 450 metres, Alpinetundra up to 800 metres and Beyond this is Arctic desert. The Khibini is the geographical centre of the Kola Peninsula region which was in former times a remote outlying district of Russia, inhabited by Khibiny. Snow and greens - day wonderful! severe Pomors and misterious Lapps. Remote Murman, the World's End washed by the waters of the White and Barents Seas was developing slowly only from the coasts, at that time. The first information about Khibini is reflected in literature concerned with the XIX-th Century Russian academician A. M. Middendorf who in 1840 had noted the uncommonness of rocks forming the mountains. The geologist N. V. Kudriavtsev in 1880 and the expeditions; of the Finnish geologist V. Ramsey in 18871892 had commenced an exploration of Khibini but valuable and usefull minerals were not found until the XX-th Century.
   First pieces of apatite ore have been discovered at the foot of Kukisvumchorr mountain in August of 1921 thence the outcrops of this ore were discovered in 1922 within the Apatite Bow where the deposits and widely known layers of Kukisvumchorr, Poachvumchorr, Apatite Circus and Rasvumchorr are located. Geologists had already reported about the industrial importance of Khibinian apatite deposits in 1923 but exploitation was not started until 1926.
   The town of Khibinogorsk was also built which at the request of the townsfolk in 1935 was re-named Kirovsk. The speed of development in those days was astonishing as was the speed at which the new town grew. In 1930 population was 500 and in 1932 48.000 and it must be noted that in 1920 the population of the whole of the Kola Peninsula was only 20.000.
   The amazement of he XVII-th International Geological Congress members who visited Khibini in 1937 is understable. Over 110 minerals (among them 18 absolutely unknown Before) have been discovered in this area and minerals like Murmanite, Wudjavrite, Ramzaite, Juksporite, Fersmanite have been included in the scientific catalogues since that time.
   From 1930 on the shore of Lake Maly Wudjavr the construction of the Mining Station TIETTA (in translation from Saami Language it does mean SCIENCE) had been started. By April 10, 1932 the Mining Station with a museum, library and scientific laboratories had been inaugurated.
   By 1949 the Kola Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. had been established and the first institute of this Branch, the Geological Research Institute was officially established in 1951 but its history actually started from the TIETTA.
   The Kola Branch of the Academy of Sciences is the biggest scientific centre beyond the Arctic Circle.
   In 1975 a museum of Arctic study and exploration history attached to the Geographic Society in Apatity was open. Many valuable material illustrations of the territories history from an ancient time till the present day are in this museum. In former times uninhabited Khibini are surrounded to-day in the South by semi-circle of towns and settlements - Apatity, Titan, Octobersky, Shuchiy, Imandra, Khibiny.
   This story about Khibini is short and it is impossible to tell everything and even if it was longer it is still impossible to put into words the charm of blue April evenings and cool nights in May, to retell about the disturbing darkness of the Polar nights and the magical vivid flame of the northern lights but everything can be seen, the only requirement is to come if only for a short time.



In addition: Topography of Khibiny






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