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Strabon, a writer of antiquity, describes the borders of the Cappadocian Region, in his 17 volume book Geographika (Geography-Anatolia XII, XIII, XIV) written during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus. Cappadocia was described as a very large area surrounded by Taurus Mountains in the south, by Aksaray in the west, Malatya in the east and all the way up to the Black Sea coast in the north. Through, present day Cappadocia is the area covered by the city provinces of Nevşehir, Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir. The smaller rocky region of Cappadocia is the area around Uchisar, Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara.

Volcanic Eruptions and Geological Formations

  • Rock Structures

Mount Erciyes, Mount Hasandag and Mount Göllüdag were active volcanoes in the geological periods. Alongside with many other volcanoes, eruptions of these volcanoes started in the Early Miocene (10 million years ago) and have continued until the present day.

The lava produced by these volcanoes, under the Neogen lakes, formed a layer of tufa on the plateaus which varied in hardness and was between 100 and 150m thick. Other substances in the layer are ignimbrite, soft tufa, tufa, lahar, asy, clay, sandstone, marn, basalt and other agglomerates.

Plateaus, having been essentially shaped with the lava from the bigger volcanoes, were continuously altered with the eruptions of smaller volcanoes. Starting in the Early Pliocene Period, the rivers in the area, especially Kizilirmak (the Red River), and local lakes contributed to the erosion of this layer of tufa stone, eventually giving the area its present day shape.

  • Formation of fairy Chimneys

The interesting rock formations, known as fairy chimneys, have been formed as the result of the erosion of this tufa layer, sculpted by wind and flood water, running down on the slopes of the valleys. Water has found its way through the valleys creating cracks and ruptures in the hard rock. The softer, easily erodable material underneath has been gradually swept away reseding the slopes and in this way, conical formations protected with basalt caps have been created. The fairy chimneys with caps, mainly found in the vicinity of Urgup, have a conical shaped body and a boulder on top of it. The cone is constructed from tufa and volcanic ash, while the cap is of hard, more resistant rock such as lahar or ignimbrite. Various types of fairy chimneys, are found in Cappadocia. Among these are those with caps, cones, mushroom like forms, columns and pointed rocks.

Fairy chimneys are generally found in the valleys of the Uçhisar-Ürgüp-Avanos triangle, between Ürgüp and Şahinefendi, around the town of Çat in Nevşehir, in the Soganli valley in Kayseri, and in the village of Selime in Aksaray.

Another characteristic feature of the area are the sweeping curves and patterns on the sides of the valleys, formed by rainwater. These lines of sedimentation exposed by erosion display a range of hues. The array of color seen on some of the valleys is due to the difference in heat of the lava layers .Such patterns can be seen in Uchisar, Cavusin / Güllüdere, Goreme / Meskendir, Ortahisar / Kizilcukur and Pancarlik valleys.

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