Cappadocia’s Fascinating Natural history

Geology of Cappadocia

In Cappadocia you’ll find widespread volcanic rocks (lavas, pyroclastic deposits) alternating with sedimentary rock. These mostly came from the eruption of two ancient volcanos in the middle Miocene, about 10-15 million years ago. Lava and rocks ejected from these volcanoes eventually produced the surface found here today, but most significantly, an approximately 450′ deep layer composed mostly of volcanic tuff and ash. During an earlier incarnation, I rock-climbed on such formations in the calderic remains at Smith Rock Oregon. (At that time few knew of it apart from NW residents, but today it’s a world reknowned rock climbing destination.)

The active role of volcanism, tectonism and climate in shaping the Cappadocian landscapes continue. As a result, today’s landscapes in Cappadocia mix stratovolcanoes and deeply incised canyons, volcanic flows and tectonic fault lines, maar lakes and basaltic cones, mesas over plateaus incised by dry valleys covered with tephras, travertines underlining heat conduits controlled by fault systems.

Volcanic rocks in Cappadocia are the result of intense volcanic activity that occurred millions of years ago. Eruptions covered the area in thick layers of ash and lava, which eventually solidified into tuff/tufa. Over time, wind and water eroded the tuff, while having less effect on the denser rock layer above, creating the fairy chimney formations.

Sedimentary rocks began with the accumulation of sediment, such as sand and calcium containing organic debris. Hard to imagine now, but these came from marshes, lakes and rivers. These sediments then compressed and solidified over time, forming sandstone and limestone.The soft sandstone made it easy for the locals to carve out caves large enough to create ‘troglodyte’ homes.

Igneous rocks are also volcanic, but resulted from magma that cooled and solidified beneath the earth’s surface. These rocks include granite and basalt, which can be found in various locations
An outstanding example of eroded igneous rock is the Ihlara canyon, with it’s typical basalt & andesite columns, overlaying softer tufa which was carved into many churches along the trail following the Melendiz stream. Small almond and pistachio orchards and truck farms still inhabit the valley floor

More hoodoos on our Zelk / Selge hike

Hoodoos link to Bryce, Vietnam (Karst) & Calgary       

 A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, or earth pyramid) is a tall spire of rock formed by erosion. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.

In common usage, the difference between hoodoos and pinnacles (or spires) is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a “totem pole-shaped body”. A spire, however, has a smoother profile or uniform thickness that tapers from the ground upward.

Hoodoos range in size from the height of an average woman to towering 10-story spires.   Hoodoo shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers. Minerals deposited in the different layers produce subtly multi-colored towers.   

French as usual have the most entrancing names —  the formations are called demoiselles coiffées (ladies with hairdos) or cheminées de fées (fairy chimneys)

 The hoodoos in Drumheller, Alberta, are composed of clay and sand deposited between 70 and 75 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. 

Hoo doos, eroded volcanic formations,badlandsDrumheller, Alberta,Canada

Nowhere in the world are they so abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Utah.

Elaborately eroded pinnacles and hoodoos in muted colors, in the canyon of Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Download royalty free images of Geology  
Buy prints, mugs, jigsaw puzzles & other products of Geology

Bird watching in Sultan Saziligi wildlife refuge

From my journals:
It took some out of the way driving for this next portion of our Cappadocia trip in Turkey. We stopped for lunch in Yesilhisar (Green fortress) at a lokanti sampling a tasty beef kofte. Then a short drive further to Sultan Sazligi,, the ‘bird paradise’, a saline lake and freshwater marshland, situated at the crossroads of 2 major bird migration routes. Some of the 250 species recorded here include pelicans, storks, golden eagles, herons, spoonbills and cranes.

We stayed at the Sultan pension – in a very pleasant setting, it’s small with spartan rooms, and typically dysfunctional plumbing, but it’s only for one night and the staff are very friendly and helpful. We met Paul, a retired British naturalist, now a volunteer working on an atlas of Turkish birds. He suggested several good books and told us what to expect to see in the way of birds.

Atalay took us out for an evening viewing

6 of us crammed into a small Lada 4 wheel drive bouncing across a dry unplanted field. Then into shallow draft boats for an hour or so being poled among the reeds. Saw reed buntings, pygmy cormorants, purple herons, marsh harriers, greater & lesser egrets, night herons.

Birds of Turkey Gallery

We beached at a shallow island in the marsh where we could walk out on semi-dry marsh. As we crossed a narrow ridge to another section of marsh about a dozen purple herons rose in flight, circled, then alternately dropped back down or flew around us. Drove back for a good supper, then Turan and another boy played saz for us while we reclined on stuffed kilim pillow, and sipped Turkish coffee. Early to bed for early start tomorrow.

We rose early the next morning for a dawn boat tour

Started at 6 am for what was billed as a 3 hr ride. Same cramped jeep over bumpy roads and tilled fields. Saw variety of birds, but few very close enough for pictures in the lowlight – lagwing, larks, squacco heron, reed warbler, kestrel, egrets, stilts, water spider, plover, white heron, spoonbills, long legged buzzard, marsh harriers, ruddy shelduck, flamingoes in far distance, pochard and marbled ducks.(confirmed many of these back at the pension when Paul, the biologist arrived for his lunch).

Heron grazing in a marsh, , mosaic scene, Great Palace, in Istanbul, Turkey

Also saw 2 wolves trotting across the fields in the distance. Atalay said they’d taken a cow in the last week. On our way back stopped at a reed drying field, where some of his relatives were making packets of reeds that would later be shipped to England and other countries for thatched roofs.

Stopped in a small village to take pictures of a stork and 3 young in a nest, and of course attracted a crowd. Soon Perk had several of the older women coming out to see what the commotion was. And a samovar of tea was fetched and shared.

Back to the pension about 11 for ‘breakfast’ before we continued on to Konya

Download royalty free images of Birds of the World
Buy mugs, jigsaw puzzles & other products of Birds of the World

Categorized as Turkey

By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us