Southwestern Asiatic Ranges
The Southwestern Asiatic ranges form a long, narrow region that begins with the Altai Mountains
. These mountains extend northwestward into southwestern Siberia. Beautiful alpine glaciers and vast snowfields are characteristic of the area. The Altai Mountains average 6,000 to 6,500 feet (1,829 to 1,981 meters) in elevation. Snowmelt feeds the headwater tributaries of the mighty Ob River
. North of the Altai Mountains are the Sayan Mountains. Their elevations vary from 8,500 feet (2,591 meters) in the west to 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) in the east. They form a southward-facing arc of mountains formed from granite and schist. Wedged between the Altai and Sayan ranges is the mineral-rich Kuznetsk Basin. Immense deposits of coal and iron ore have been found here. The Minusinsk Basin, located in the north-central Sayans, is a rich agricultural region that abounds in lignite, coal, and iron ore.