Kuban Lowland

Kuban Lowland. An extensive plain located in the western part of Subcaucasia within the borders of Rostov oblast and Krasnodar krai in the Russian Federation. It extends to the Sea of Azov in the west, to the Stavropol Upland in the east, to the Kuma-Manych Upland in the north, and to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains in the south, and occupies three-quarters of the territory of Kuban.

The Kuban Lowland is a tectonic depression built of chalk and tertiary strata that cover the layered Hercynian foundation. The upper layers are composed of sedimentary deposits (mainly sand and clay) accumulated by the rivers flowing from the Caucasus Mountains. In the south these upper layers are built of fluvioglacial strata. On the surface, the lowland is covered with a 20–50-m layer of loess. In its central part, the plain has an average elevation of 100–150 m. The land gradually decreases in height toward the coast of the Sea of Azov in the west and rises gently (to a maximum of 300 m) toward the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains south of the Kuban River. It is an almost perfectly flat plain with some shallow, swampy depressions. On the coast of the Sea of Azov, limans have formed. In this region there are also numerous lakes (the largest is the saline Khanske Lake), floodplains, and wetlands, located mainly in the vast delta of the Kuban River. In the east and south the plain is dissected by rivers into a number of flat plateaus. There are chains of low anticlinal hills (up to 162 m in height) on the Taman Peninsula, which is connected to the Kuban Lowland by the Kuban River Delta.

The Kuban Lowland has a continental climate, similar to the climate of the Ukrainian steppe, but warmer and more humid (the yearly average temperature is 10–12°C). It results in relatively cold winters and long and hot summers. Most precipitation occurs from May to July. The summers are conducive to the cultivation of some subtropical crops (eg, rice) as well as to fruit growing and viticulture. The lowland’s only large river is the Kuban River. There are no major rivers in the northern part of the plain, and the existing ones often dry out in the summer.

The Kuban Lowland has mainly carbonated chernozem soils. Other types of soils encountered in the plain are peat-meadow soils in the delta of the Kuban River and dark-chestnut saline soils in the Taman Peninsula. The Kuban Lowland is a region of highly developed agriculture. Its main cultures are grains, melons, and fruits. In the northwestern part of the plain there are rich deposits of natural gas. The fauna of the Kuban Lowland is similar to that of the Ukrainian steppe. The most common animals encountered in the region are gophers, field mice, and polecats.

 Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Marko Robert Stech

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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