A Fascinating Gift from Volcanoes: The Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities of Cappadocia

  • Attila ÇinerEmail author
  • Erkan Aydar
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)


Cappadocia, at the heart of the Central Anatolia Plateau in Turkey, is famous for its unusual volcanic landscape and rock dwellings. The formation of this landscape dates back to the late Miocene epoch (∼10 Ma) (Ma = Million years) when ignimbrites and pyroclastic deposits started to spread out from a few volcanic centres over an area of 20.000 km2 centred on the plateau. The volcanism continued for several millions of years and laid down thick and colourful ignimbrite layers. The evolution of the Cappadocian landscape is governed by the uplift of the plateau since late Miocene times. Gently sloping plateaus formed by the surface of volcanic pyroclastic flows are later dissected, usually along fractures of soft-unwelded ignimbrites, to form mushroom-like, cone-shaped structures known locally as “fairy chimneys”. Ancient populations also used the ignimbrites to carve their houses, churches and even underground cities. This unique cultural and morphological heritage site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 and today is one of the most visited regions of Turkey.


Cappadocia Fairy chimneys Hoodoos Volcanoes Ignimbrites Tourism 



Several TÜBİTAK projects financially supported our long-lasting research in the region. We thank numerous colleagues (İnan Ulusoy, Evren Çubukçu, Erdal Şen from Hacettepe University; Orkun Ersoy from Niğde University; Marek Zreda from University of Arizona; Catherine Kuzucuoğlu from CNRS; Alain Gourgaud from Université Blaise Pascal) with whom we exchanged knowledge and observations. We appreciate M. Akif Sarıkaya’s (Istanbul Technical University) help during the fieldwork and in drawing the map. We are grateful to Kısmet Çiner, the manager of Kayadam Cave House in Ürgüp, who kindly hosted us during our work in Cappadocia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eurasia Institute of Earth SciencesIstanbul Technical UniversityMaslak, IstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Geological Eng. DeptHacettepe UniversityBeytepe, AnkaraTurkey

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