- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
319

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK
y
319
south the soil is fairly saline, and there is saline and
brackish water in the lakes. At last we came to some
low houses, but they were only for railway men.
They were built of stone, as of course there is no timber
for building. Here and there rocks projected through
the dry, brown carpet of grass on the slopes of the
ridges round about ; but for the most part the rock was
covered with deep, loose layers of weathered débris.
In this climate, with its great differences of temperature
and its cold winter, weathering seems to proceed
rapidly ; but on account of the slight precipitation and
the flatness of the country, not much material is carried
away.
Farther east there was a little birch forest on the
heights here and there, but it was remarkably thin,
only a tree now and then, and the trees were small.
At some of the stations there were great stacks of
birch-logs. The engines burn chiefly wood ; some coal
has certainly been found in these parts, but it is of poor
quality. Once more the same interminable grass
country. We are slowly mounting the western slope
of the Great Khingån range.
The widely extended, but low mountain masses
of Great Khingån rise slowly from the Mongolian and
Khulunbuir plateau, at a height of about 2000 feet,
on the west, and from the lower plain on the east,
which is continuous with Eastern Gobi, and has
an altitude at Tsitsikar of about 500 feet. The
mountains, so far as they are known, do not reach
a greater height than between 3500 and 4000 feet,
and there are no snow mountains among them. The
slopes are everywhere long and gradual with low,
undulating ridges, and even the summits have rolling
lines and do not rise high above the flat floors of the
valleys.

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