Central Asian Geoportal

Geological information

Central Asia is the western extension of the Chinese-Korean platform; it is divided by tectonic activity zones into relatively stable massifs – Tarim, Djungarian, Alashan and Ordos; in the north this group of massifs is bounded by the Mongolian-Kazakhstan belt and in the south – by Kunlun belt of Paleozoic folded structures. In the north of Tibetan Highlands, within Changtan, there are manifestations of Mesozoic folding. At the end of the Mesozoic the territory of Central Asia mostly represented denudation plains uplifted and dissected as a result of subsequent Cenozoic movements. The modern relief is notable for the complex combination of rubbly and sandy plains (with the areas of hummocks), mountain chains and massifs, the highest of which are characterized by Alpine relief.

The minerals of Central Asia are still underexplored. There are large oilfields (Kelamayi, Urho, Tushandzy, Yumen) and coalfields (Turfan, Hami) in the north-west of China, and coalfields (Darkhan, Tsogt-Tsetsyi), brown coal (Choibalsan) and iron ore (Sharyn-Gol, Tamryn-Gol etc.) in Mongolia. Central Asia is rich in rare and non-ferrous metals, halite and other minerals.

Central Asia is the natural region including desert and semi-desert plains, highlands and plateaus. It is bounded by the southern part of the Great Khingan and Taikhanshan chain in the east, and by the longitudinal tectonic depression of the upper Indus and Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) in the south. In the west and in the north the boundaries of central Asia are formed by mountain chains of eastern Kazakhstan, Altay, Western and Eastern Sayan, roughly coinciding with the state border between the CIS, on one side, and China and Mongolia, on the other side. The area of Central Asia, according to various estimates, is 5 to 6 million sq. km. China and Mongolia are mostly located in the territory of Central Asia. The population of Central Asia is composed of the Mongolian ethnic groups (such as Khalkha), the Chinese, Uigurs, Tibetans etc.

According to the UNESCO definition, the region also includes Mongolia, Western China, Punjab, northern India and northern Pakistan, north-eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Asian parts of Russia to the south of the taiga zone and the five former Soviet republics of the Middle Asia.

Central Asia can be also defined based on the ethnic structure of the population. According to this approach, the definition also covers the Turkic regions of the Southern Siberia, five former Soviet republic of the Middle Asia, the north of Afghanistan and a part of China.

In terms of climate and physical geography “Central Asia” also covers both Central and Southern Kazakhstan.

The region was previously called “Middle Asia and Kazakhstan”, however at the summit of the Central Asian states in 1992 Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, proposed to refuse this definition on favor of the “Central Asia” concept.

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

 

The Republic of Tajikistan is located in the south-eastern part of Central Asia; its area is 143.1 thousand sq. km.  

The geological structure and development of the Republic of Tajikistan territory, including its deep structure as well as minerals and regularities in their location were studied in a number of generalizing works.  The complexity of Tajikistan geological structure and diversity of its minerals are conditioned by its location at the junction of two largest geosynclinal folded mobile belts – Urals and Mongolian and Mediterranean- covering, accordingly, Caledonian-Hercynian  North-and Mid-Tien-Shan and Hercynian-Cimmerian North- and South-Pamir geosynclinal folded belts. The border between them passes across Ilyak-Vakhsh and North-Pamir ruptured zones, which, correspondingly, enframe Mesozoic-Cenozoic deposits and structures of Trans-Alay, Peter I Range, Alay Valley and Tajik intermountain virgation (basin). Hercynides of Kuraminskaya zone and Fergana epi-Hercynian Mesozoic-Cenozoic Depression are located between caledonides of the Northern Tien Shan and Hercynides of the Southern Tien Shan. The basic features of the structure and ore-bearing of the Tien Shan folded area, as well as the Northern Pamir were formed by the end of Hyrcynian phase of diastrophism, and the Southern Pamir – at the end of Cimmerian phase. Within the borders of the above folded areas there are five regions differed by the specific features of their geological development and coinciding with the major geological and economic regions of the republic – Northern (Kuraminskaya zone)  North-Eastern (Fergana Depression), Central (Gissaro-Alay), South-Western (Tajik Depression) and South-Eastern Tajikistan (Pamir).

Several hundreds of mineral deposits within the subsoil of Tajikistan have been identified, explored and partially prepared for industrial development, such as deposits of lead and zinc, copper and bismuth, antimony and mercury, precious metals, molybdenum and tungsten, iron, tin, boron raw material, strontium, fluorspar, mineral salts, ornamental, semi-precious and precious stones, building stone and many other types of minerals for construction industry; coal, anthracite, graphite, oil and gas, ozokerite, underground fresh, thermal and mineral waters, phosphorites and a number of other minerals - 50 types of mineral resources in total.

Basic useful minerals in the composition of ores are gold, silver, copper; associated minerals – bismuth, selenium, tellurium. Harmful impurity - arsenic.    

Basic minerals – gold-containing  arsenopyrite and pyrite; associated – silver and sulphur; harmful – arsenic, antimony and carbon black.  

The Republic of Tajikistan holds the leading position in the Central Asian region for the reserves of lead and zinc ores.  

Tajikistan ranks third (after China and Thailand) in Asia and first among the CIS countries for the proven reserves of antimony.  

The mineral reserves of antimony in the republic can be significantly expanded through the expansion of geological exploration works on the deposits of other ore areas where the promising sites were identified. 

Kazakhstan

 

Kazkhstan is located in the center of the Eurasian continent. The area of the republic is 2,724,902 sq. km.  The territory of Kazakhstan occupies the south-eastern part of the East-European Platform ( Pre-Caspian Syneclise), western, south-western and southern parts of the Urals-Mongolian fold belt, the south-west of which is occupied by a large plain area -  Turan Plate overlapped by the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sea basin with outstanding linear paleozoides of Mugodjar and Karatau mountains. To the east of the Turan Plate there is the central-Kazakhstan Paleozoic massif – Saryarka, Chingiz-Tarbagatay and Zaisan linear fold systems, sublatitudinal Alpine belt of the Northern Tien Shan and Djungarian Alatau.

Kazakhstan is the richest region in Central Asia in the reserves and diversity of minerals. It holds one of the leading positions in the world by reserves of uranium and chrome ores, copper, lead, zinc, manganese and tungsten and ranks among the world top ten countries by reserves of hydrocarbons. The republic possesses considerable reserves of iron, vanadium, molybdenum, gold, industrial diamonds, mining-technical (vermiculite, asbestos, wollastonite, bentonites etc.) and mining-chemical (phosphorites, barytes, fluorite, sulphur etc.) raw materials. It has considerable resources of halite, potassium and manganese salts, sodium sulphates and borates.  There are huge reserves of face and ornamental stones, construction materials, mineral and thermal waters.

Kazakhstan is known for the very high quality of iron ores. 

Kazakhstan ranks second in the world by the reserves of phosphorite (after Russia) due to the Zhanatas and Karatau deposits. 

Kazakhstan is also the world leader in the production of aluminum. 
The mineral resources sector holds the leading position in the structure of Kazakhstan economy. Based on the explored reserves of minerals, dozens of oil-and-gas production and mining enterprises produce and process various types of minerals – ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals as well as oil and gas.


Kyrgyzstan

 

The Kyrgyz Republic is located in the eastern part of Central Asia; the area of the republic is 198,500 sq. km. 

The territory of Kyrgyzstan is located within two mountain systems. Its north-eastern part with larger area lies within Tien-Shan and the south-western part – within Pamir-Alay. The state borders of Kyrgyzstan mainly pass along the mountain chains. Only in the north, north-west and south-west, in the densely populated Chu, Talas and Fergana valleys – along the bottoms of mountains and piedmont plains.

Kyrgyzstan has large deposits of coal, mercury, antimony, uranium, tin, zinc, lead, tungsten, wollastonite, rare-earth metals and nephelinic syenites. Antimony fields are famous for the high quality of raw materials.

There are dozens of iron fields in Kyrgyzstan, but they are underexplored.  Drilling works were conducted only on the Nadyr deposit (Kadamdjaisky district); the remaining ones were subjected to surface geological studies. 

Only a few ore occurrences of manganese were identified in the territory of the republic. Dozens of deposits and ore occurrences have been registered in Kyrgyzstan.