The Geology of Sochi, Russia – Home of the 2014 Winter Olympics

Hi Everyone, today I’m writing about a question that I’m sure most of you die-hard Winter Olympic fans are asking yourself. What is the geology of Sochi, Russia?! With those beautiful buildings, the amazing Black Sea and those oh so fabulous mountains in the backdrop, the resort town of Sochi looks like a nice place to visit.

The geology of Sochi, Russia is much more complicated than you might think. Sochi is situated along the shores of the Black Sea. A short, 25 miles away loom the Caucasus Mountains, where they are hosting all of the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events at the 2014 Olympics. These majestic mountains are relatively young in geologic years and form from the collision of continental plates in the area.

North of Sochi is a major thrust fault, called the Main Caucasus Thrust fault. In this area, rocks from the northern part of Russia and moving over and ending up on top of rocks from the south. There is another fault called the Racha–Lechkhumy Fault Zone that is located south of the Main Caucasus Thrust. This fault helps to build the mountain range higher and bigger.  The area where they are skiing, snowboarding and sliding at the Sochi Winter Olympics is located between these two faults.

The town of Sochi itself sits in a basin between the mountains and the Black Sea. This basin is filled sediments that were deposited by a main river, the Mzymta River, that flows into the Black Sea and debris from the mountains.  The landscape of Sochi includes wetlands and sandy beaches making it an ideal resort town and somewhere that looks very nice to visit.  This unique geology presented some interesting construction problems for the crews working on Olympic venues.  If you are interested in the construction aspect of the Olympic venues, you can read more here.

Photo:  Caucasus Mountains
U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior
USGS U.S. Geological Survey
Photograph courtesy of V.M. Kotlyakov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

 

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