by Acad. Nikolai DOBRETSOV, President of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), Chairman of the Joint Scientific Council on Geosciences, SR RAS
Siberia's huge natural wealth - its large vestal woodlands, full-flowing rivers, Lake Baikal - the world's largest fresh-water body; and last, its unique deposits of oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, and ferrous and nonferrous metals - this makes Siberia all-important for our country and its economy. Small wonder that earth scientists are showing much interest in this territory: its regions with different geological structures and a wide spectrum of climatic conditions make it possible to address foremost theoretical and applied problems.
Gas hydrate sample from the K-2 mud volcano on Lake Baikal's bottom contains hydrates of cubic structures CS-I and CS-II, differing in the presence of methane and its heavier homologues.
First, some background information on our history. Back in 1944 the USSR Academy of Sciences opened its division in Novosibirsk (the West Siberian Branch), together with the affiliated Institute of Geology and Mining. Next came the Academy's East Siberian Branch and the Institute of Geology opened in Irkutsk in 1949. And in 1957 these and other research bodies merged in the re-established Siberian Branch of the national Academy of Sciences.
Today the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS) numbers more than twenty research centers concerned with basic and applied research in the earth sciences over a vast territory - from Tyumen in the west to Chita in the east, and Yakutsk in the north to Kyzyl in the south. Our research institutes of geology, mining and geography have been tackling two fundamental and interconnected problems. First, expand our knowledge on the main laws and regularities of the structure, formation and evolution of our planet's geosphere. Second - promote in all ways the advancement of the Russian national economy by optimizing the country's mineral and raw material base, and upgrading the techniques of prospecting for, mining and processing of minerals. Yet another important area related to this work-environmental protection, since the significant scope of industrial and other objects (mines, integrated works, transportation routes and the like) can damage vulnerable nature of the North.
Several research schools, now of world renown, have been formed in the problem-solving process, and these are: geology of oil deposits (Acads. Andrei Trofimuk, Alexei Kontorovich, Viktor Surkov, Nikolai Chersky); paleontology-stratigraphy (this school was founded by Acad. Boris Sokolov, Vladimir Saks, corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Alexander Fursenko, corresponding member of the Belorussian Academy of Sciences, and Alexander Kanygin, RAS corresponding member); geology of diamond deposits (founded by Acads. Vladimir Sobolev [father] and Nikolai Sobolev [son], and RAS corresponding member Nikolai Pokhilenko); research of ore formation and magmatic processes (Acads. Yuri Kuznetsov and Valery Kuznetsov, and corresponding member Felix Shakhov and Gleb Polyakov); petroleum gasophysics (Acads. Nikolai Puzyrev and Sergei Goldin); geocryology and permafrost (Acads. Pavel Melnikov [father] and Vladimir Melnikov [son]). There are other research schools operating under SB auspices.
PRIORITY IMPORTANCE FINDINGS
Many discoveries made by Siberian earth scientists rank among most notable achievements of the 20th century. Thus, Acad. Boris Sokolov* validated the existence of the Vendian** as one of the crucial stages in the history of our planet and its biosphere. In his contribution to the journal Sovetskaya geologia (Soviet Geology) he was the first to point to the existence of a specific system between the Pre-Cambrian*** and the Paleozoic; he proved that about 600 million years ago there occurred an "explosive" rise in the biomass of oceanic organisms. The jellyfish-like animals of that time are described by geologists, as the Ediacarian**** fauna. Subsequently Sokolov's disciples demonstrated that the formation of the oldest oil and gas kitchens dates back to this period. For instance, Andrei Trofimuk predicted the presence of the oldest (Riphean***** and Vendian) oil deposits which later on were discovered with the active participation of SB. Our collective - now headed by Acad. Alexei Kontorovich - is involved with prognostication of oil and gas deposits, also with the use of modern modeling techniques.
The main practical result of paleontological and stratigraphic studies was the creation of a new generation of territorial stratiographic diagrams that ushered in a qualitatively
* See: B. Sokolov, "Peering into the Dim Past", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2005. - Ed.
** The Vendian (Period) was 680 - 545 mln years ago. - Ed.
*** Pre-Cambrian - the oldest earth crust layers formed 3,500 - 570 mln years ago. - Ed.
**** Ediacarian fauna - an association of askeletal Vendian organisms. - Ed.
***** Riphean - 1,650 - 570 mln years ago. - Ed.
Mineralogical methods are applied in prospecting for bedrock diamond deposits and assessing their productivity.
Shorthand of the region of partial melting in the environs of the mid-oceanic ridge axis (average width of this zone on either side of the axis, 5 to 7 km, depth, ca. 80 km); dashes indicate flow lines; a-d - characteristic levels of partial melting (red); 1 - magmatic melts generation region; 2 - profile of vertical velocity of flows in the asthenosphere near the mid-oceanic ridge axis; 3 - boundary ofperodite solidus, KLB-1; 4 - lithosphere-asthenosphere interface.
new level of geologic surveys and prospecting for mineral deposits.
The discovery of gas-hydrates by Andrei Trofimuk and coworkers in 1960 (registered in 1961) was a breakthrough accomplishment. These solid-state compounds of water and hydrocarbons (methane for the most part) are a major fuel-and-energy resource of the 21st century. Such deposits, mostly concentrated on the continental shelf and in polar regions, exceed the total resources of other fuels dozens of times over. However, the development of such deposits calls for essentially novel technologies yet to be designed.
We should also mention yet another discovery of the 20th century: Acad. Vladimir Sobolev found a diamond deposit in Eastern Siberia, he did that "on the tip of his pen", so to speak. Comparing the geological structure of the Siberian platform with that of South Africa, all the way back in 1940 he predicted that Siberia should be rich in diamond deposits, and he pointed at their probable location sites; the basin of the river Vilyui. For detection our scientists devised methods based on the substantive characteristics of associated minerals (garnet and chromous spinel, which always go along with diamonds). This innovative approach worked, and by now a dozen kimberlite pipes have been detected in Yakutia. Diamonds were also discovered in the north of the Archangel region* and in Canada, too: it was Nikolai Pokhilenko, a pupil of Acads. Vladimir and Nikolai Sobolevs, who pioneered in the discovery of Snap Lake, Canada's richest diamond deposit. In the latest development, diamond deposits were inferred for the superhigh-pressure metamorphic rocks in the Kokchetav massif (Kazakhstan).
Exploring oil-and-gas-bearing regions of Eastern Siberia, our prospectors proved for the first time: that pre-Cambrian deposits could be a source of energy reserves on a commercial scale. For definition of East Siberia's resources, it was necessary to infer prognostic criteria, map and carry out geological exploration works, which ended in the discovery of oil and gas deposits, including the large Srednebotuobinsk and Vekrkhnechonks deposits, and the giant Yurubcheno-Tokhomsk one. The fuel resources discovered in Russia's east are a reliable raw-material base for this country's mining industry. For this work Acads. Alexei Kontorovich, Andrei Trofimuk and Viktor Surkov were awarded a national State Prize (1994). Subsequently, owing to the active involvement of the research staff of the SB Institute of Oil and Gas Geology, a heretofore unknown oil-and-gas subprovince was inferred in the Yenisei region, which in its geological structure and distribution of minerals proved to be similar to Pre-Cambrian basins of the Siberian platform. Seismic and drilling operations confirmed the existence of this subprovince.
* See: S. Sablukov, "Diamond Treasures in Russia's North", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2001. - Ed.
Siberian earth scientists have a good record of achievement in other areas as well. Here are just a few, most significant results of their work.
Acad. Alexander Yanshin's prediction came true, as proved by the discovery in the late 1960s and early 1970s of Siberia's largest deposit of potassium fertilizer in the Nepa river basin.*
SB scientists have suggested an innovative trend in hydrogeology that involves original classification of underground waters and processes responsible for their formation - their composition, isotopic relationships and other indicators of their genesis. The results of these studies carried out over many years are summed up in a six-volume monograph authored by RAS corresponding member Yevgeny Pinneker, Boris Pisarsky (Institute of the Earth Crust), Igor Lomonosov (Institute of Geochemistry) and other scientists. This monograph - Fundamentals of Hydrogeology - was published in 1980 - 1984 and merited a USSR State Prize in 1986. Translated into English and German, this book is still the world's only work on the subject of hydrogeology.
UNLOCKING THE MYSTERIES OF THE EARTH'S CRUST AND MANTLE
In 1970 - 1974 the research collective of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics (Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences) published a 4-volume monograph under the title Fades of Metamorphism, which is a major compendium of theoretical and experimental data on mineral associations, metamorphic rocks and their composition, their formative conditions and their propagation in the earth's crust and mantle. This work summarized the then available information on the signatures of metamorphism's facies, the sequence of its stages and their correlation with tectonic and magmatic processes. Statistical generalizations allowed to substantiate and validate an optimal pattern of most frequently occurring facies subdivisions.
The authors drew particular attention to contact metamorphism (transformation of rocks around magmatic intrusions) and analyzed the role of pressure and mechanisms implicated in the formation of metamorphic rocks in the earth's crust and mantle at high pressure values. A knowledge of such values makes it possible to identify high-pressure belts as a principal element of the crust's structure. It would be in place to note here that the first metamorphic diamonds were discovered in one such belt at Kokchetav and then in other parts of the world. A group of researchers involved in this work won a prestige Lenin Prize in 1976. They were Acad. Vladimir Sobolev, Drs. Nikolai Dobretsov, Vladimir Reverdatto, Nikolai Sobolev and Vladimir Khlestov. In the 1980s and 1990s V Reverdatto, N. Sobolev and N. Dobretsov were elected full members of the national Academy of Sciences.
The SB school of experimental mineralogy is well known the world over. Acad. Vladimir Sobolev, Dr. Alexander Godovikov and their pupils, proceeding from the results of their fundamental studies, have synthesized and investigated over a hundred compounds. They have developed new methods for the growing of crystals of diamonds, emerald, alexandrite and other minerals (germanates, lithium salts) widely used in the electronic and jewelry industries. At the same time scientists developed apparatuses for production at a laboratory and industrial level.
A research team under Acads. Yuri and Valery Kuznetsovs (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, SB of the USSR Academy of Sciences) deduced fundamentals of the science of magmatic and ore-bearing formations. The results of their research were condensed in 15 monographs under the summary title Magmatic and Endogenic Ore Formations of Siberia published in 1964 to 1980. Their work revolutionized theoretical research in this field, and their formative method came to be adopted in geological practice. The Siberian geological school uses it in studying concrete belts, ore-bearing provinces and districts. For this significant work Acads. Yuri and Valery Kuznetsovs, Alexander Dymkin and Gleb Polyakov (both corresponding members), Drs. Anatoly Beloussov, Valery Zolotukhin, Emil Izokh, Vladimir Sinyakov, Alexander Obolensky, Elimir Distanov and Vitaly Sotnikov were awarded a USSR State Prize in 1983.
I would like to tell about this work in greater detail. Its main points were first outlined in Yuri Kuznetsov's monograph The Principal Types of Magmatic Formations. His classification played a fundamental role in inferring principles of analysis of magmatic association for the geological mapping and location of useful minerals. Subsequently it became possible to work out a better classification pattern and on its basis propose a new approach to the systemic analysis of complex natural objects and phenomena. The thing is that magmatic formations (associations), potentially productive with respect to definite types of postmagmatic mineralization, display certain characteristics which were identified in their totality and employed for diagnostic purposes. This served as a spur to the progress of the general theory of petrogenesis and its practical applications, including prognostic-metallogenic ones.
The fusion of fundamental and applied knowledge obtained this way stimulated the development of plutonic matter geodynamics, a science concerned with the most general laws of geological processes taking place deep in the earth's crust and mantle. Another stimulus was provided by experimental and digital simulation of geological processes under different conditions. These methods were actively used by the SB Institute of Geology and Mineralogy. Such computations validated the postulate on bilayer convection in the mantle and became a basis for thermophysical models of processes implicated in spreading**, rifting*** and subduction; in particular, the model of an accretional wedge as the main regulator of subduction zones was built on this basis. It thus became possible to give an optimal answer to the question
* See: D. Rundkvist et al., "Distribution of Large and Superlarge Deposits", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2006. - Ed.
** Spreading - according to one tectonic hypothesis, the coming apart of lithospheric crustal plates in the vicinity of mid-oceanic ridges on account of rising plutonic matter. - Ed.
*** Rifting - development of crust deformation structures bounded by deep faults. - Ed.
Geocryological regions: Plains: 1 - northern subtype; 2 - southern subtype; Plateaus: 3 - northern subtype; 4 - southern subtype; Mountains: 5 - northern subtype; 6 - southern subtype; 7 - territories of the all-out increase in the intensity of cryogenic geological processes; 8 - territories of local increase in the intensity of cryogenic geological processes.
Cryogenic geological processes, intensity in 2006:
Value: decreasing or level
H/h - seasonal cryogenic upswelling
I/i - icing
S/s - solidification
E/e - thermoerosion
A/a - thermoabrasion
T/t - thermokarst
Map of "Prognostic Evaluation of Cryogenic Processes on Russia's Territory in 2006".
about the heat and mass exchange of thermochemical plumes and determine the principal parameters of hot spots on earth, both the present (Hawaiian and Icelandic plumes) and the ancient ones (like the Siberian superplume that appeared 250 mln years ago). The temperature field in the suboceanic asthenosphere was determined by the method of laboratory thermophysical modeling; and taking account of experimental data, a stability field was constructed for plutonic parageneses (associations of minerals in the earth crust related by virtue of common formative conditions) in the asthenosphere under the Atlantic Ocean.
The works of Acads. Mikhail Kuzmin, Nikolai Dobretsov and Dr. Anatoly Kirdyashkin on plutonic geodynamics won a State Prize of the Russian Federation, and their book Plutonic Geodynamics appeared in three editions, both in Russian and in English.
FUNDAMENTAL AND APPLIED PROBLEM SOLVING
Our Siberian Branch has been doing much towards the advancement of geochemistry and its prospective research lines. Being in charge of this work, Felix Shakhov, Fyodor Krendelev (corresponding members of the USSR Academy of Sciences) and Acad. Lev Tausson managed to marry basic research in the geochemistry of endogenic processes implicated in rock and ore formation (here they made a wide use of the latest physical, physicochemical and radiogeochemical methods of analysis) to applied problem solving in the surveying and prospecting areas. This research group laid a groundwork for the geochemistry of technogenesis, a new line that spurred the development of ecogeochemistry and radioecology.
Led by Acad. Nikolai Puzyrev, Epaminond Fotiadi and Sergei Krylov (both corresponding members of the national Academy of Sciences), Siberian geophysicists elaborated theoretical principles of geophysical data retrieval and management. They suggested methods for in-depth seismic sounding by combining multiwave seismic prospecting with that by electric means, a procedure that allowed to boost drastically the efficiency of prospecting and turn to direct, immediate techniques of locating oil and gas deposits. For their cycle of works Physicogeological Principles of Multiwave Prospecting Acad. Nikolai Puzyrev and his colleagues Konstantin Lebedev, Irina Obolentseva, Boris Sibiryakov and Arnold Trigubov were awarded a USSR State Prize for 1987.
And in 1999 Acad. Nikolai Puzyrev received a State Prize of the Russian Federation for his monograph Methods and Objects of Seismic Studies: Introduction to General Seismology. This work as well as the works of Acad. Goldin, Dr. Viktor Seleznev and other authors offered a new concept of active geophysical and geodynamic monitoring in seismoactive zones based on the essentially new interpretation of physical processes within a seismic source area before, during and after an earthquake.
In 1978 the RAS Siberian Branch set up a network of seismic stations for geophysical data collection and processing. Operating in the monitoring mode, these stations collect information on seismic events all over the Siberian territory,
which is then passed on to research centers of this and other countries. A number of SB research institutes (Trofimuk Institute of Oil-and-Gas Geology and Geophysics; Institutes of the Earth Crust; of Geology of Diamonds and Noble Metals; of Geological, Computing Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, and others) have become leading research bodies in the field of seismic zoning and in studying associated disastrous phenomena (destruction of structures, landslides, mud-and-earth flows, sills, etc.). They are cooperating with the SB Geophysical Service in carrying out appropriate studies and tests of houses and other structures for resistance to seismic effects.
Two SB research centers - Institutes of the Earth Crust, and of Geology and Geophysics-pioneered in engineering and geological explorations in Siberia and the Far East begun in the 1960s and continued for about twenty years. These institutes mapped present-day geodynamic processes and phenomena (landslides, landslips, creep, mudflows, sink holes, etc.). Their materials were used widely in the erection of hydrotechnical structures on the Yenisei, the Angara, on Lake Baikal's shores, and along the Baikal-Amur railroad trunk line. A group of scientists merited a State Prize of the USSR for this work.
We ought to mention achievements scored in studying perennially frozen rocks: in these fifty years since SB's foundation, our researchers have been closely involved with geocryological studies geared to practical tasks and to global cryology of the earth with the aim of elucidating the significance of cryogenesis in the origins, existence and further evolution of the hydro-, atmo- and biosphere. SB is running the world's unique research centers conducting systematic studies of the cryolitic zone taking up over 70 percent of Siberia's territory (this work being done by the Melnikov Institute of Geocryology in Yakutsk, and the Institute of the Earth's Cryosphere in Tyumen).
Their research staffs (under Acads. Pavel Melnikov and Vladimir Melnikov) determined laws underlying the propagation of the temperature field in cryogenic strata and related formative mechanisms, and studied diverse forms of underground ices, gas-hydrates and cryopegs.* They elaborated models for the interaction of the cryolitic zone with the climate and landscape environment of Western and Eastern Siberia. The earth scientists of the above two research institutes explored the dynamics of arctic sea coasts and discovered definite regularities and characteristics of the cryolitic zone's degradation in the shallow waters of sea shelves. And last, they suggested original methods for studying cryogenic strata, namely cryo-facies analysis, landscape-geocryological mapping, and seismo- and electrosurveying investigations of cryogenic profiles.
Our cryogenicists found ways and means for the protection of the natural environment of the North from damages caused by gas pipeline construction. They came up with practical suggestions with respect to selection of sites for pile housing and industrial engineering structures and methods of biological recultivation of landscapes in tundra plains of the Far North.
The data amassed in the course of many years of observations make it possible to evaluate the reaction of the cryolitic zone to anthropo- and technogenic effects and climatic changes on global, regional (territorial) and local scales. It thus becomes possible to preclude negative consequences in districts of intensive nature management (urban construction, construction of transportation routes and engineering structures, extraction of minerals). The present level of science has enabled a transition to a system of short- and midterm forecasts relative to the cryogenic situation. This work is being done by the RAS Siberian Branch for the Ministry for Emergency Situations and other bodies and departments.
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
In the past few years or so the world public has become much concerned about problems of environment and climate modification. Many SB research institutes (Institute of Limnology; Vinogradov Institute of Geochemistry; Institute
High-resolution (-200 years) reconstruction of climatic humidity in the water catchment basin of Lake Baikal over the past 140,000 years (by data on uranium isotopes in the lake's bottom sediments).
* Cryopegs - concentrated subterranean salt brines persisting in the liquid state at negative temperatures (°C) and occurring in permafrost zones. - Ed.
of Geology and Mineralogy; Institutes of Archeology and Ethnography and of the Earth Crust; Melnikov Institute of Geocryology; Institutes of Geology, Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology; of Monitoring of Climatic and Ecological Systems; of Water and Ecological Problems and other centers) have obtained major results. For instance, studying bottom sediments in large lakes (Baikal, Khubsugul, Teletskoye) and loess sequences with the use of innovative methods (like paleomagnetic investigations, high-resolution scanning of drill cores from lacustrine sediments - in this particular case, synchrotron radiation techniques were employed), our earth scientists succeeded for the first time in achieving resolution over dozens of years. The data on changes in the presence of diatom algae*, terrigenous material, ice particles spacing as well as on variations in isotope characteristics (isotopes 234U, δ18O and others) - all that found in benthic sediments - allowed to date glaciation epochs and interglacial periods, and determine global and local trends in the evolution of Central Asia's climate during the Cenozoic; besides, climatic models were built for the immediate future. These models, apart from demonstrating the single pattern of global climatic changes, also revealed certain specific characteristics of inland and high-latitude areas.
The Institute of Geography of Siberia and the Far East - founded in Irkutsk in 1957 and oriented to landscape management and economic geography-was one of the first SB specialized research bodies (Institute of Geography today). During the construction boom in this country's eastern regions, its recommendations were adopted for such major projects as the Angara-Yenisei industrial area, the Kansk-Achinsk fuel-and-energy complex, and the Baikal-Amur railroad. The theory of geosystems devised by Acad. Viktor Sochava (who for many years had been heading the Institute of Geography) has been adopted on a wide scale in landscape planning and architecture both in our and in other countries (Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, among others).
The mid-20th century witnessed the birth of the tunnel shield techniques of coal mining in deposits characterized by hard geological conditions (the famous Chinakal shield, called so after the first director of the Institute of Mining and Geology of the West Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Nikolai Chinakal, elected to the Academy as corresponding member). The world congress of coal miners held in Paris in 1956 praised his work as an outstanding achievement in the advancement of the 20th-century mining. Thus self-advancing supports came to be built worldwide, which made it possible to increase the miners's labor efficiency severalfold.
In another signal achievement, Professor Boris Sudnishnikov and coworkers of the Novosibirsk-based Institute of Mining were awarded a Lenin Prize for designing and developing a complex of high-performance mechanisms of underground hole-drilling. They did much for the adoption of this technology on an industrial scale, too. Thanks to their efforts a new generation of pneumatic machinery was manufactured: high-efficiency drilling rigs BA-100, NKR-100, and NKR-100M; immersion air samplers, jack (air) hammers and hand-operated compactors, air hammers for crushing lump materials and destruction of ground structures, and buckets for high-power excavators.
As of the mid-1960s the Institute of Mining turned to creating "underground rockets", or hardware for laying underground service lines without trenching. These inventions were patented in Britain, Germany, France, the United States and elsewhere, and exported to dozens of countries. Dubbed a "gem" on the Soviet export list of machinery, these machines are still being employed on a wide scale in road
* See: T. Moiseyenko, "What Tarns and Arctic Lakes Tell", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2006. - Ed.
building and housing construction, in service lines running, and in repairs.
The exploration of mineral deposits in the Far North and their tapping called for novel technologies and engineering solutions. Here a considerable contribution was made by research scientists of the Mining Institute of the North (Yakutsk, Yakutia). They discovered laws responsible for rock strength modifications at negative temperatures on the centigrade scale, and suggested technologies for combined (strip and underground) mining procedures and for using chunks of ice and waste rock as supports and fillers. Such innovative techniques made it possible to achieve a significant increase in labor productivity of the mining industry in permafrost areas.
It would not be amiss to note that our geologists, geophysicists and engineers, by pooling their know-how and experience, have made a worthy contribution in upgrading instrumental and analytical methods of research. Their expertise is materialized in new instruments and devices. Many of their products have merited high government awards and prizes, including a microcolumn high-performance liquid chromatograph (USSR State Prize, 1985), a mobile gas chromatograph ECHO, the world leader among chromatography analyzers (RF Government Prize for 1998).
SB SCIENTISTS IN THE EXPERT OPINION SPHERE
SB earth scientists have always been taking part as experts in discussing important government decisions that determined the future development course of Siberia and the entire nation. As experts they were often consulted in comprehensive ecoeconomic examinations of major national projects (such as a rechanneling of Siberian rivers to Middle Asia or plans to build hydro-power stations at Katun and Turukhansk). Not so long ago a team of SB experts led by Acads. Nikolai Dobretsov, Alexei Kontorovich and Valery Kuleshov, together with a group of Leonid Drachevsky, a plenipotentiary representative of the RF President in the Siberian Federal District, chartered a package of policy documents providing for the further development of the fuel-energy complex of Siberia and Russia at large. Two such documents, "Strategy of Siberia's Economic Development" and "Russia's Energy Strategy up until the Year 2030", were endorsed by the Government of the Russian Federation in 2002.*
A prognostic study made by SB geologists and economists for the economic development of this country's eastern regions in the early 21st century says that Eastern Siberia - primarily Krasnoyarsk Territory and Irkutsk Region - are playing a key role in the integration of European Russia with the Far East. By many indicators these two members of the Russian Federation (i.e. Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk areas) may become an arena for an international superproject envisaging further progress of the oil-and-gas mining and refining industries, and of the gas-and-chemical and helium industries. New major oil-and-gas mining centers could be formed there. Suggestions have been prepared on a single development program for Russia's eastern regions, Krasnoyarsk Territory including; this program, if approved, will make it possible to safeguard our country's national security and promote its economic and geopolitical interests; it will further our mutually advantageous partnership in the Asia-Pacific Region.
For years and years the Siberian Branch had been waging a vigorous struggle for Lake Baikal, the world's largest body of fresh water and a unique natural laboratory of species formation and biological diversity. This epic effort is a glorious page in the SB record. SB scientists, first and foremost, Acads. Mikhail Lavrentiev, Andrei Trofimuk and Valentin Koptiug mounted a crusade in Baikal's defense with the construction in 1966 of a wood-pulp and paper mill at Baikalsk. And so in 1987 the CPSU Central Committee and the Council of Ministers of the USSR promulgated their decision on measures for the protection and rational management of natural resources of Lake Baikal in a period of 1987 to 1995. This enactment commissioned our SB to tackle certain tasks related to permissible effects on the lake's ecosystem. The Presidium of the RAS Siberian Branch acted swiftly in reinforcing the Limnological Institute, a head research body on Baikal and its problems. It set up a department of physicochemical biology which was to elaborate methods for ultra-microanalysis of priority ecotoxicants and apply such methods in practice. Other departments turned to ecologically closed technologies and ecofriendly instrument making. Pooling efforts in a pioneering work, SB research scientists drew up norms and standards for maximum permissible effects on Lake Baikal and its ecosystem. In ten years' time these norms and standards were enforced at the operating wood-pulp and paper mill in Baikalsk, and then at a similar plant at Selenga. A group of Selenga workers merited an RF State Prize in 1993 for developing a closed production cycle.
Finally, Baikal was put on the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1996 (incidentally, at the initiative of the SB Limnological Institute) - a climacteric point in the crusade for Baikal. And in 1999 the State Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) adopted a "Law on Baikal". And in the latest dramatic episode, Siberian scientists rallied in a desperate (I can't think of another epithet!) struggle against the Transneft company's project to lay a West Siberia-Pacific oil pipeline along Baikal's northern coast. Detailed feasibility studies showed the economic inefficiency and ecological hazards of the proposed project. This file drawn up by SB and RAS plus mass public protests reversed the situation in 2004 and 2005 in favor of an ecologically safer project.
Illustrations supplied by the author
* See: V. Kuleshov et al., "Siberian Outpost of the Economic Science", Science in Russia, No. 4. 2007. - Ed.
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