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Located SW of the Hindu Kush range, the Band-e-Amir lakes and other continental bioherms around Bamiyan are famous for their ordering into terraces and their great variety of colours. Numerous legends, the earliest likely dating to the establishment of the Zoroastrian religion, refer to the topography, ecology, and colours of the lakes and seismic activity of the area. The lakes have been formed by the chemical and biologically-induced build-up of semicircular or successive linear travertine dams. The discovery of a highly truncated karstic network located at an elevation of around 4000 m. along the base of Maastrichtian carbonate cliffs surrounding the lakes, may explain the presence of this carbonate sedimentation which has fluctuated with time and was responsible for legendary floods. Localized at the eastern end of the Herat strike-slip fault, the timing and duration of the build-ups and lakes are under the influence of intense seismic activity, partially due to the seismic activity of the nearby Hindu Kush, in relation to the northern drift of the Afghan Gondwanian block towards the Eurasiatic plate. These bioherms and lakes occur in an area of high risk; a zone of floods, freezing temperatures, earthquakes and rock avalanches caused by the high altitude and location in the Himalayan alpine belt. These natural features have affected local populations beginning with the movement into the area of more or less sedentary people, apparently coming from the Bactrian province. Such a fragile biological and sedimentological environment should be maintained by organized governmental assistance, with a primary goal of protecting the local inhabitants, but also preserving this exceptional environment for others to enjoy.

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