Ural Mountains, the chain of mountains forming the N. E. boundary of Europe, and geographically separating European Russia from Siberia, though almost all included in the administrative divisions of the former. Of very moderate height and breadth, the chain would appear insignificant but for the contrast it presents to the great regions of plains that spread from its W. flank over central Russia and from its E. side into Siberia. Its course is nearly due N. and S. over an extent, as usually estimated, of 18 or 19 degrees of latitude, with a general breadth of about 40 m. On the south it begins on the right bank of the Ural river at the Kirghiz steppe, in about lat. 51° N.; but high lands may be traced still further S. into the region lying between the lake of Aral and the Caspian sea. On the north its termination is at the gulf of Kara in the Arctic ocean, though its continuation is marked in the rocky hills on the W. side of Nova Zembla. The highest summit of this portion of the range, named Glassovskoi, is about 2,500 ft. above the sea. The average elevation of the Ural mountains is probably less than 2,000 ft. above the sea, and its highest summits do not reach 6,000 ft.
Much of the range blends so gradually into the plains at its sides that it has little of the mountainous character, and is crossed by easy roads, as that by which Yekaterinburg is reached from Perm. The highest summit is Telposis, 5,537 ft.; other principal summits are Deneshkin Kamen, 5,357 ft., and Iremel, 5,038 ft. It is only in the extreme northern part that the mountains remain covered with snow during summer. In general, the chain is clothed with forests of the gigantic pinus cembra, above which are often picturesque ledges, frequently overgrown with pasonies, roses, and geraniums. The rocks of which these mountains are composed resemble those of the Appalachian mountains. The lower groups are Silurian strata metamorphosed into crystalline rocks, which for the most part are talcose schists, quartzites, and limestones. To these succeed the upper Silurian, Devonian, and carboniferous, the strata of which are also more or less altered, though still retaining traces of their characteristic fossils. A marked contrast is observed in the appearance of these rocks on the European and Asiatic slopes.
On the former the strata are indeed contorted, fractured, and partially changed; while in the centre, as on the eastern slopes, the masses consist everywhere either of highly altered and crystalline Silurian strata, or of the eruptive rocks which penetrate them. It is in these formations, especially where the talcose and chloritic schists are traversed by veinstones of quartz or cut by dikes of igneous rocks, that gold is found. In the debris from these are situated the gold washings, which furnish the chief portion of this metal and of platinum to the Russian government. There are also important mines of iron and copper; and diamonds, emeralds, and various other precious stones are found in the same region. The most important mines are in the neighborhoods of Nizhni Tagilsk, Yekaterinburg, Berezov, Zlatoust, and Miyask. - See Russlands MontanIndustrie, insbesondere dessen Eisenwesen, beleuchtet nach der Industrie-Ausstellung zu St. Petersburg und einer Bereisung der vorzuglichsten Hüttenwerke des Urals im Jahre 1870, by P. von Tunner (Leipsic, 1871).