The Selenga River (Lake Baikal Basin): description, tributaries and interesting facts

There are several hypotheses about the distant past of the river, according to one of which in ancient times (before the formation of the Baikal depression) the Angara and the Selenga were a single natural reservoir. According to another hypothesis, this river was a tributary of the Lena.

But in reality it is the largest tributary of the beautiful Lake Baikal. The Selenga River takes its origin outside of Russia - in Mongolia.

Geography, characteristics of the river

Selenga - a river flowing through the territory of two states. It is formed from the confluence of the Muren and Ider rivers, flows into Lake Baikal. The vast delta covers an area of ​​approximately 680 square kilometers. About half of the water flowing into Baikal falls on the Selenga.

Its length from the source of the river. Ider is 1024 km. The pool has an area of ​​447 thousand square kilometers.Selenga River

The river is mostly flat. It is characterized by both hollow expansions (up to 20 kilometers), where the river is often divided into channels, and narrowing of the valley (up to one or two kilometers).On the territory of two states the river Selenga carries its waters. Mongolia is the country where the source is located.

On the banks of the Selenga river are the Mongolian city of Sukhe-Bator, the Russian Ulan-Ude and Selenginsk (urban-type settlement). Navigation along the river goes all the way to Sukhe Bator.

The area of ​​the present delta, whose age is about 500 thousand years, is approximately 540 sq. Km. Before the construction of the Irkutsk hydroelectric station, it was 2 times more. The approximate age of the Selenga delta is 500 thousand years.

The river delta is one of the most active sections of the seismic Sayano-Baikal zone. Earthquakes here are likely to force up to 10 points.Selenga River (Mongolia)

A bit of history

On the banks of the river itself and its tributaries, mostly on Russian territory, many sites have been found. The period of their occurrence - the Stone Age (to the Paleolithic). The researchers studied the burial grounds, settlements, mounds of the Bronze Age. Numerous drawings made with ocher or carved on the walls were found in the caves and on the rocks, most petroglyphs from the Bronze Age.

According to the results of careful studies of the nature of the drawings (images of deer, goats, boars, camels and fish, hunting scenes), conclusions were drawn about the main activities of people who lived in those times.Images of cosmic bodies were also found here, and this suggests that even then people could navigate by the stars.

About the origin of the name of the river

There are a variety of versions of the origin of its name. From the Buryat “sal” is translated as “lake, open space, spill”, and from Evenk (Tungus) “sele” or “sele” is translated as “iron”, and the word “seleng” - “iron”.

In general, in the question of the history of the origin of the name of the river, there is no general point of view. Against the Buryat version says the fact that the name "Selenga" was used in those ancient times when the Buryats as a people did not exist. Against the Tunguska, the fact that Selenga had nothing to do with iron.Selenga River in Buryatia

Source and tributaries of the Selenga River

The source of the largest tributary of Baikal is the confluence of two rivers located in Mongolia. These rivers are Dalger-Muren and Ider-Gol. The second, flowing in the north-western part of the country, originates in the mountains of the Khangai, and Delger-Muren - in the north of Mongolia in the Hovsgol aimag.

The largest tributaries of the Selenga are Orkhon (in Mongolia), Egin-Gol, Dzhida, Khilok, Chikoi and Uda (in Russia), Temnik.

A total of 1024 kilometers of length has the Selenga River. In Buryatia, it extends to a distance of 409 kilometers (this is the lower current).The drainage basin has a total area of ​​445 thousand square kilometers.Tributaries of the river Selenga


In the region of the river delta, snow falls one to two weeks earlier than on the coast of Baikal. The height of the snow cover reaches 23 cm. It begins to descend in early April. On the upper part of the delta the level of snow cover is usually even less. Contributes to this openness to its blowing winds.


At the state border between the Mongolian Republic and Russia, the average water consumption is 310 cubic meters per second, and at 127 kilometers from the mouth - 935 cubic meters. m sec From November to April, freeze-up occurs.

On average, over the year, the Selenga river introduces approximately 30 cubic km of water into Baikal, which is half of the total inflow into the lake. Stock in the Selenga throughout the year is unevenly distributed. June and July - the most high-water period, from January to March - the least.Baikal River Selenga

It should be noted that along with water, the Selenga River in Baikal brings half of the total mass of incoming pollution. The spring flood is quite stormy, the level of the river at that time rises with great speed (up to 20 cm per hour).

Huge volumes of sand, etc. get into Baikal with water.(3.6 million tons per year), and during the period of spring floods the amount of sand delivered reaches even 7 million tons per month. The thickness of the accumulated sediments in the river delta is estimated at 5,500 meters.

In appearance, the delta looks like a giant swampy meadow plain, which is divided into small islands with numerous old stones and channels. More than half (55%) of the catchment area of ​​the river belongs to the territory of a neighboring state (Mongolia).


The delta is home to 298 species of migratory and nesting birds, 70 of which are state-protected (species are listed in the Red Book). This territory is one of the largest halt points of migratory birds. The rarest species of birds living in the delta are the following: Dahurian and Black Cranes, Peregrine Falcons, White-tailed Eagle, Asian Pittret, and so forth.

The Selenga River is a habitat for many fish: perch, pike, ide and roach.

In autumn, the Baikal omul, which is preparing for spawning, visits the Selenga. It is the main object of lovers of fishing on the lake and in the Baikal region. When the water temperature in the river reaches 6 - 8 degrees (May-June), the Tiemi immediately rush to Selenga, which in places with the most stony and pebbly bottom begin to lay eggs.

The strongest floods in the 1990s contributed to the massive spread of rotan in the river delta. It was introduced from the Amur River basin in 1980. Sometimes fishermen come across pyzhyans (Baikal whitefish).

In addition, the Selenga River is home to carp, burbot, Siberian roach, Baikal sturgeon and many other fish species.Lake Baikal, the river Selenga


The vegetation in the shallow lakes of the Selenga delta is represented by floating vegetation (bladderworm, duckweed, shagolifolia) and attached to the bottom of the plants (urutyevy, nymphaeaceous, pedal, udovnikovye, arrow-leaf, marsh-flowering).

Areas of the delta, periodically flooded (swampy), are represented by reed beds, horsetail, reeds, cattail, sedge and cereals. In less flooded areas, thickets of willow and other shrubs are widespread, as well as meadows. On some islands there are continuous thickets of apple berries.

Economic value

The river is navigable to the city of Sukhe Bator. Coal mining is carried out in the basin, and in the lower reaches of the river there are many sources of mineral water.

At the beginning of the 20th century (1930), the construction of two hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) on the Selenga River was planned: one near the railway bridge (lower Verkhneudinsk), and the second - below the mouth of the r. Khilka Moreover, the second reservoir should have an area of ​​approximately 3 thousand square kilometers. And its capacity was estimated at 2 times more than the hydroelectric station on the Dnieper.

Experts have carefully studied the hydroelectric potential of the Selenga and concluded that the construction of the above-mentioned power plants on the river is not advisable due to the absence of large electricity consumers.Hydroelectric Power Station on the Selenga River

Interesting Facts

Superb and beautiful Lake Baikal. The Selenga River, as noted above, or rather its delta, plays the role of an excellent natural filter. It actually performs the initial cleaning of numerous effluents of industrial enterprises entering through the lake into it. Although outwardly the delta looks picturesque, you need to be careful with swimming in the river, and you should not use water for food at all.

The river delta is included in the list of the most unique natural phenomena of world significance. It belongs to the Central Baikal Conservation Zone (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

The eastern part of the Selenga delta is occupied by the Kabansky ornithological federal reserve.

In conclusion, a little about environmental issues.

Today, the most problematic is the section where the largest tributary, the Orkhon River (Mongolia), flows into the Selenga. It is known that the main largest industrial facilities of the Mongolian Republic are located in its basin, including a large deposit of copper ores and approximately 200 gold-bearing ones.

The space images perfectly demonstrate how the color of the Selenga water changes after the large masses of water from the Orkhon River flow into it.

Many experts see the main problem in the fact that the quality of water supplied from the Selenga to Baikal has recently deteriorated.

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