BĪNĀLŪD, KŪH-E, mountain range in northeast­ern Iran between Mašhad in the east and Nīšāpūr in the west with elevations of up to 3,211 m. Geologically, the Bīnālūd ranges are of special importance as the orographic link between the Paropamisus mountains (be­longing to the Hindu Kush system) and the Alborz of northern Iran. Due to this function, the Kūh-e Bīnālūd (together with the Alā Dāḡ and the Pošt-e Kūh) is extremely subject to earthquakes and related tectonic activities. The Kūh-e Bīnālūd has also played an important role in connection with the discussion of the problem of pluvial periods during the Pleistocene. While Scharlau (1958) argued that geomor­phological evidence from the Bīnālūd mountains (esp. fluvial terraces in the Ṭorgeba valley near Mašhad) tends to prove the existence of a pluvial climate, Bobek (1963) and others consider the Pleistocene cold periods to be identical with rather dry periods.

Economically, the Bīnālūd mountains are of minor importance. Forming a natural barrier between the Khorasan trench in the north and the highlands of central Iran in the south the southern edge of the range constitutes a major traffic connection (road, railway) between Mašhad and central Iran. The mountains serve as nomadic grazing areas, while both forelands are agriculturally used with irrigation from qanāts and wells. The turquoise mines of Maʿdan, approximately 36 miles/55 km northwest of Nīšāpūr, however, are of national importance, forming the basis for considerable mining and of remarkable handicraft activities in Nīšāpūr, Mašhad, and Tehran.



H. Bobek, “Nature and Implications of Quaternary Changes in Iran,” in Proceed­ings of the Rome Symposium Organized by UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization, Arid Zone Research 20, Tehran, 1963, pp. 403-13.

F. G. Clapp, “The Geology of Eastern Iran,” Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 51, 1940, pp. 1-102.

G. C. Napier, “Extracts from a Diary of a Tour in Khorassan, and Notes on the Eastern Alburz Tracts,” JRGS 46, 1876, pp. 62-171.

K. Scharlau, “Zum Problem der Pluvialzeiten in Nordost-Iran,” Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, N.S. 2, 1958, pp. 258-­77.

Idem, “Das nordostiranische Gebirgsland und das Becken von Mesched,” ibid., 7, 1963, pp. 23-35.

Camb. Hist. Iran I, pp. 63, 68, 69, 74, 147.

Kayhān, Joḡrāfīā I, pp. 44, 45, 46.

(Eckart Ehlers)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, pp. 261-262