STS064-080-087 Mount Ararat Massif, Turkey September 1994 This spectacular, near-vertical photograph features the Mount Ararat Massif in eastern Turkey. Snow-capped Great Ararat (visible near the center of the photograph), the traditional resting place of Noah's Ark, reaches an altitude of 16 946 feet (5169 meters) above sea level; 7 miles (11 km) southeast, Little Ararat is 12 877 feet (3928 meters) above sea level. Both are symmetrical, cone-shaped volcanoes composed of alternating layers of lava and ash. The widespread ash forms andesitic tuff, a grayish-white rock. Most of Great Ararat formed about 2 million years ago atop a block of uplifted rock during the Holocene Period; Little Ararat formed shortly thereafter. No eruptions have been recorded for either volcano. Nine glacial tongues escape downslope of Great Ararat from the permanent ice field, meet the snow line, melt, and produce streams. The rather high snow line [15 420 feet (4700 meters)] for a mountain this far north results from the dry surrounding region. Because of the lack of water, the area is relatively barren and uninhabited. From medieval accounts, the Ararat region was a beautiful, forest-clad mountain with many human settlements and abundant wildlife; however, deforestation, overgrazing, and a destructive earthquake in 1840 have severely impacted the area. Because of fears of further earthquake activity and the very dry conditions, many inhabitants left the region and settled elsewhere.