The large drumlins and lakes of Vooremaa

The Vooremaa landscape region is one of the most unique areas in Estonia, being one of the few areas in Europe where classical large drumlins occur. In Finland and Sweden one can find drumlins with bigger dimensions but these consist of crystalline rocks and are therefore rocky drumlins. Among drumlins consisting of Quaternary sediments only, more representative drumlins can be found only in Ireland. The main characteristic features of this area are its striped landscape pattern and the parallel location and regular shape and size of the oval-shaped landforms. This has driven people to seek explanations to the development of Vooremaa. Folk legends associate the large drumlins and the oblong depressions between them with furrows ploughed by the mythical national hero Kalevipoeg.

Drumlins — oblong formations with shelving slopes and convex tops — are landforms shaped by continental ice. Their length reaches from a few hundred metres to 13 kilometres (Koimula drumlin) and the breadth — from 0.2 to 3.5 kilometres. The height of bigger drumlins in Vooremaa varies between 20 and 40 metres, reaching as much as 60 metres at Laiuse . The shape of drumlins resembles a loaf of bread and is a result of the combined effect of the exarative and accumulative activity of glaciers. Drumlins are oriented in the direction of glacier movement — from the northwest to the southeast.

The shape of the entire Vooremaa landscape region resembles that of a single drumlin. Vooremaa is higher (Laiuse drumlin — 144 metres above sea level) and also broader (30 kilometres) in the northwest and gets lower (Vasula drumlin — 80 metres) and narrower (ca 15 km) towards the southeast. Such a shape is caused by Vooremaa’s location in the shelter of the Pandivere Upland. Glaciers that could not cross the upland and moved past it on two sides, converged on their way to the Peipsi Basin and shaped the narrower southeastern part of the drumlin landscape. Together with the Pandivere Upland, Vooremaa is in the form of a large comet the “head” of which is Pandivere, formed of exaration-resistant limestones, and the “tail” Vooremaa, consisting of friable sediments.

The drumlins consist mainly of till, and to a lesser extent of gravel and sand. The latter sediments are characteristic of other types of smaller landforms which are usually accumulated either on the slopes or tops of the drumlins. The most important of these are kame fields in Kassinurme, Kukemetsa, Saare, Toljase, etc. The tops of drumlins are often crossed by overflow-valleys of the local ice-dammed lakes, with the deepest of these (26 metres) being Kudina valley.

The striped landscape pattern of Vooremaa is accentuated by the ice-ploughed depressions located between the drumlins and the oblong lakes in the depressions. The lakes are often rather deep, for instance Lake Saadjärv — up to 25 metres. The lakes in Vooremaa are mostly eutrophic, with a thick layer of mud deposited on their bottom, and are at present slowly covering with growth. The majority of lakes are located in the southern part of Vooremaa, with only Lake Kuremaa is located further north from the other lakes. Lake Raigastvere, located between sharp drumlin slopes, is very peculiar, resembling a river rather than a lake.

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