The mountains of the Caucasus are located on the isthmus between the Caspian and Black Seas. The Caucasus is separated from the East European Plain by the Kumo-Manych depression. The territory of the Caucasus can be divided into several parts: Ciscaucasia, Greater Caucasus and Transcaucasia. Only the Ciscaucasia and the northern part of the Greater Caucasus are located on the territory of the Russian Federation. The last two parts together are called the North Caucasus. However, for Russia, this part of the territory is the southernmost. Here, along the crest of the Main Range, the state border of the Russian Federation passes, behind which Georgia and Azerbaijan lie. The entire system of the Caucasian ridge covers an area of approximately 2600 m2, with its northern slope occupying about 1450 m2, while the southern one only about 1150 m2.
The North Caucasus Mountains are relatively young. Their relief was created by different tectonic structures. In the southern part there are folded-block mountains and foothills of the Greater Caucasus. They were formed when filling zones of deep deflection by sedimentary and volcanic rocks, which later underwent folding. Tectonic processes here were accompanied by significant bends, sprains, fractures and faults of the earth’s layers. As a result, a large amount of magma poured onto the surface (this led to the formation of significant ore deposits).
The uplifts occurring here in the Neogene and Quaternary periods led to the elevation of the surface and the kind of relief that exists today. The rise of the central part of the Greater Caucasus was accompanied by lowering of the strata along the edges of the formed ridge. So in the east the Terek-Caspian trough was formed, and in the west the Indo-Kuban.
Often, the Greater Caucasus is presented as the only ridge. In fact, this is a whole system of various ridges, which can be divided into several parts.
The Western Caucasus is located from the Black Sea coast to Mount Elbrus, further (from Elbrus to Kazbek) the Central Caucasus follows, and to the east of Kazbek to the Caspian Sea – the Eastern Caucasus. In addition, two ridges can be distinguished in the longitudinal direction: Dividing ridges (sometimes called the main one) and Lateral.
On the northern slope of the Caucasus, the Rocky and Pasture ridges, as well as the Black Mountains, are distinguished. They were formed as a result of interbedding of layers composed of sedimentary rocks of different hardnesses. One slope of the ridge is gentle here, and the other breaks off rather sharply. As you move away from the axial zone, the height of the mountain ranges decreases.