Theoretically easily accessible from our base in northern Yerevan, the Khor Virap Monastery and its famous view of the two peaks of Ararat, were made for us very difficult because of a landslide.
We then passed by Garni, and a track, doubled by a pass, skirting the reservoir of Azat-Zabasen ... course a little more rugged, but spectacular in a semi-desertic region where we did not meet as some shepherds and their sheep.
The monastery of Khor Virap is built on a hill of Artachat, former capital of Armenia. The origins of the monastic complex, attached to the Armenian Apostolic Church, go back to the seventh century: it was built on the spot where Saint Gregory the Illuminator, patron saint of the country, was imprisoned for thirteen years. In this place, Biblical history mingles intimately with that of the Christians of Armenia and the Armenian nation.
Mount Ararat is venerated by Armenians. Although the latter were the first to adopt Christianity as a national religion, in 301, Mount Ararat remains for them the home of Ara, supreme deity of their pre-Christian pantheon. Formerly, the mountain was included in the borders of "the Great Armenia".
In 1921, the area was incorporated into Turkey and the peaks now rise 32 kilometers from the border. Always visible from Yerevan, the Armenian capital, but inaccessible, Mount Ararat became, for the Armenians, the symbol of the tragic fate of their nation, victim, between 1915 and 1923, of deportations and massacres perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey. Access to the sacred volcano remained banned until 1990 for strategic reasons, with the Republic of Armenia under Soviet domination. The Armenians are more attached to it : Ararat is on the national coat of arms, on bank notes and stamps, and it is in the spotlight in paintings, poems and songs.
Mount Ararat is a polygenic stratovolcano covering 1,100 km² and consisting of two distinct volcanic cones, the Great Ararat, 5,165 meters and the Lesser Ararat, 3,896 meters, connected by a lava plateau. Its measurements - 45 km on 30 km. - make it the largest volcanoes aligned on an SSO-ESE axis from the Nemrut Dagi.
Ararat seen from the space shuttle in 2001 - Great Ararat, center - Lesser Ararat, right - photo Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, 2001 in GVP
Of recent formation, between the tertiary and the quaternary, in an infrequent context of volcanism of the zones of collision, the Ararat mountains result from the accumulation of lava flows and successive pyroclastic ejections.
After a period of production of andesitic tuffs, encountered in the clear base of the volcano, there was an influx of basalt and andesite flows, forming the darker lower slopes up to 3,000 m. altitude. The summit of Great Ararat is formed by two trachytic domes separated by a string of 400 meters long.
The establishment of the Ararat Mountains was followed by a period characterized by eruptions of flanks, following N-S oriented cracks. The initial phase produced cinder cones and rhyolitic dacitic lava domes around the Great Ararat and a series of pyroclastic cones and domes on the western flank of Lesser Ararat. The final stage is responsible for the formation of pyroclastic cones on the lower flanks of the two volcanoes.
Ararat seems to have been active during the 3rd millennium BC; Pyroclastic deposits cover artifacts and human remains from the beginning of the Bronze Age. Karakhanian et al. (2002) reported historical evidence of a phreatic eruption and pyroclastic flow during an earthquake and landslide in July 1840.
The ancient history of Ararat is linked to that of the flood around 5,000 BC, due to the breaking of the Bosphorus threshold due to the melting of glaciers, and taken up by various ancient sources: the legend of Gilgamesh, Greek mythology and the Bible (Noah's Ark would have landed there after the flood)
To follow: Yerevan, the pink city in volcanic tuff.
- Global Volcanism Program - Ararat
- The most unrecognized volcanism, the volcanism of collision zones, and its most emblematic active volcano: Mount Ararat (Eastern Turkey) - Planet Earth / Pierre Thomas - link