- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
308

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
have ever been worn away by ice ; I was unable to
discover in passing any certain signs of an Ice Age. On
the slopes along the south-western side of the lake,
high rocks, jagged points and knolls were often to be
seen. This seems to point to severe erosion, produced
especially by frost, and by the great differences of
temperature in this part. In any case it seems im
possible that a mountain of this appearance can have
been abraded by ice in any recent geological period.
But it certainly cannot be for want of low temperature
that they have had no Ice Age here. Even now, the
mean annual temperature on Lake Baikål is below
freezing-point, or about 30° F. Mr. Wourtzel told me
that when constructing the railway here on the south
side of Baikål they encountered difficulties owing to the
soil in some places being perpetually frozen.
Here we saw the immense labour involved in doubling
such a line as this. All the tunnels had to be widened,
besides the whole permanent way ; new supporting
walls of ferro-concrete had often to be built up from the
very edge of the lake ; in many places where the curves
were too sharp for high speeds, new tunnels had to be
bored through the rock, and where bridges occurred,
a new one was generally built by the side of the old,
to carry the new line.
The whole time we had this mighty mountain lake
beside us. Its area is 13,197 square miles. It is the
third largest fresh-water lake in the old world, Victoria
Nyanza and Tanganyika being larger. But it is the
deepest lake in the world ; in fact, the deepest depres
sion that exists on any of the earth’s continents. Its
depth is 4992 feet. It is deeper than even the Sogne
fjord in Norway, which is 4133 feet deep ; and as the
surface of Baikål lies 1515 feet above the sea, its bottom
thus reaches a depth of 3477 feet below sea level.
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