Taftan (volcano)

Taftan ( تفتان , Taftân, Persian for "blistering, smoldering, fuming") is an active stratovolcano in south-eastern Iran situated in the Sistan and Baluchestan province. With variable heights reported, all around 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) above sea level, it is the highest mountain in south-eastern Iran. The nearest city is Khash.

Taftan has two main summits, Narkuh and Materkuh, and various heights have been reported for both summits. The northwestern Narkuh has two craters and is the older of the two summits. The southeastern Materkuh summit is surrounded by fresh-looking lava flows and has at least three craters. The principal rock at Taftan is andesite.

Reports of historical volcanic activity are unclear and the youngest radiometric dates are 6,950 ± 20 years before present. Currently, the volcano features vigorous fumarolic activity that is visible from a great distance and involves numerous vents on Materkuh. Taftan appears to be part of a geothermal area, and a number of hot springs can be found around the volcano.

Taftan is part of a volcanic arc in Iran, together with Bazman, also in Iran, and Koh-i-Sultan in Pakistan. This volcanic arc has formed on Cretaceous-Eocene sedimentary layers and has resulted from the subduction of the oceanic Arabian plate beneath Iran at the Makran trench.

Geography and Geology

Taftan is in Iran's Sistan and Balochistan province. Cities close to Taftan include Khash 45 km}} south and Zahedan and reaches distances of apart. Narkuh is . There are different heights reported for the summits, some of them placing Materkuh as the higher of the two: for example more recent Iranian maps cited in 2004 show Narkuh with a height of , while Gansser in 1964 indicated a summit height of , and a map in 2004 claimed a measurement of . In general, thick andesitic lava flows cover Materkuh. In 1893 and 1914, Percy Sykes described a summit plateau with a surface of away from the central vents. Several fans of pyroclastic material, cemented by andesitic tuffs, surround the base of Taftan. Ignimbrites and pyroclastic flows are also present, including breccias, nuee ardentes and tuffs. Volcanic rocks cover a surface of . Another report in 1999 found a altitude. An analysis of five springs in May 2012 indicated temperatures of . Taftan is located in an arid locale but has more precipitation than the surrounding area, thus providing water to the surrounding terrain. Average precipitation is {{convert per year.

Owing to the height of the mountain, there are distinct vegetation belts at Taftan. The lowlands around the mountain are covered with Artemisia steppe and occasional shrubland. Open scrubs occur in a higher altitude belt of 1800 - where the terrain is rocky, and thorn-cushion vegetation at elevations of 2600 -; there is little vegetation in the summit area.