Semnan, the most notable salt supply hub in Iran
Semnan province is prominent in terms of having the most famous salt supply hub in Iran. Due to having massive salt mines and being located on the Silk Road and other cities of Iran, the province contains potential conditions for carrying out salt-based tourism projects. Garmsar, known as Kharan during the Parthian period, is also one of the most scenic desert cities in Iran, located in the province and hosting the largest salt mines and tunnels in the Middle East. It currently houses 40 salt tunnels. And a significant share of salt extraction in Iran also took place in the region. Garmsar salt Cave is one of the phenomenal salt mines in Iran. In the Garmsar region, there are 27 salt mines with a purity of over 98%. There are many spectacular wonders in these salt tunnels. How to exploit these mines and the specific layers that exist in these mines can be very useful and informative for those interested and familiar with Geotourism issues and geology students.
The Garmsar Salt Cave
Upon reaching the salt mine site, the appearance of the land gradually becomes more impressive than before. The coloured layers of saline sediments have created magnificent effects in the area. As if coloured cuts of a multi-tiered cake were in front of you. As far as the eye can see, there is rock salt and a slice of salt cake that catches everyone’s attention. Walking along these tunnels, we see salt walls hung by salt ice stalactites, giving these tunnels a stunning look. One of the most picturesque landscapes in these mines is the grooves created by rain washing. Along the way, “salt crystals” appear in cauliflower, oval, layered, with various colours. The colour variation is due to the elements and impurities in the salt composition. It is dark inside the mine, so the way of lighting has created a gorgeous effect. Here is a museum that has prepared a sample of designs and natural colours for display. Salt crystals are robust and hard to break. The sharp edges of these salt crystals are captivating and spectacular on the one hand, and on the other hand, they can harm you. In countries such as Italy, Germany, and Poland, people create special facilities and take advantage of the positive effects of salt under the titles of energy therapy or salt therapy. So, they activate the Tourism boom and Therapeutic tourism by building chambers and artificial caves. The Garmsar Salt Cave is one of the significant salt mines in Iran, and many nature tours come to visit.
The Kuhdasht Kohan Cave (Mine) of Garmsar
The Kuhdasht Kohan mine is the most stunning in Garmsar. The external form of the mine is like a mountain, and extracting salt from it, creates a cave inside. Dark-coloured rock salts have formed the entrance to the cave, and the colour of the rocks becomes lighter and lighter as you go forward. Salt stalactites (cone-shaped limestone columns formed by water dripping from the cave roof) are like sharp spears hanging from the cave roof. A tortuous and colourful corridor 1.5 km long passes through the salt mountain. In a part of The Kuhdasht Kohan salt mine, the rain created the green ponds, which shines like a jewel and fascinates you. Also, the presence of 12-meter salt columns in this cave adds to its charm. Salt rock has many healing properties that can be useful in some physical and mental diseases. The exterior of the mine is made of white, gold, and red stones and depicts a strange rainbow.
The Saline Cave of Garmsar
The Saline Cave of Garmsar, known as Naft Darreh cave in the Garmsar dragon mountain, had been formed due to floods and the washing of salt rocks. According to some geological experts, the cave contains all kinds of stalactites and stalagmites and dates back to the second period of geology. The air of this cave is clean and healthy in terms of passing through the salt layers and has a cold temperature at the peak of summer heat. In some regions of this cave, we will reach a part where we must walk about 100 meters while sitting.
Oil traps in the village of Padeh
The village of Paine Deh, renamed “Padeh” over time, is located around Garmsar and contains large salt tunnels. These mines are where the salt dome with gypsum and salt cover rises. These salt domes are where oil (oil traps) get stuck due to their specific structure, which distinguishes them from other salt domes. The village has fascinating historical and architectural monuments, including Panjdari (five windowed room) houses, reservoirs, old baths, and the Sassanid castle.
This effect is the product of geological interactions over many years. A significant fold, Dragon Mountain, was created due to the layering of the coloured soil layers on each other. The geological phenomenon is named composite folds, in which forces enter from two directions and simultaneously create these spectacular folds. In the view of Dragon Mountain, the red, brown, and white stripes are intertwined in a wavy manner, creating a specific structure. The shape of the dragon has formed alternately from sandstone, shale, and boiling stone.
“Martian hills” is a magnificent and spectacular geological complication caused by soil type, salt, and water erosion. The process is specific to desert and semi-desert areas. It is interesting to know that, because the hills are red, they are called Martian hills.
Desert National Park
This park is known as “Little Africa of Iran” due to the diversity of animal life and is the only park where there is no human habitation and is full of wildlife of desert animals. You can see animals like goats, wild rams and ewes, sand cats, Persian cheetahs and leopards, wolves, striped hyenas, red foxes, Sand foxes, jackals, lynxes, guava deer, and Jabirs (a type of deer smaller than deer) in the area. The most prominent animal species in the national park is the Asian Cheetah. The birds in the park include partridges, terns, ravens, hummingbirds, sparrows, finches, chirps, and swallows. The birds of prey include golden eagles, songbirds, hawks, and sea urchins, and there are migratory birds such as flamingo, Eurasian teal, Ruddy shelduck, and all kinds of geese and ducks.