Since the geological history of the world's largest nation is as big as the nation itself, and since I don't have a master familiarity with Russia's formation over hundreds of millions of years, I'm not going to delve into backstory and instead plunge straight into this Russia in an alternate Earth.

250-200 million years ago--Pangaea

All the continents have joined together to create a singular supercontinent.

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The brown lines are mountain ranges varying in height above sea level from 23,000 to 33,500 feet. The orange arrows show which direction the continents were moving which resulted in these mountainous crashes. (Pay particular attention to Eurasia--this will prove useful for the question.)

200 million years of erosion can bring about a lot of changes on the mountains and plateaus, just to bring it up.

60-43 million years ago--Siberian Traps

Eurasia at that length of time was subject to a series of lava flows, the cracks from which the lava oozed from presented in the map below on red:

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The short-reds were fast-moving but blocky--even jagged--a'a lava. The long-reds were the runnier and slower-moving pahoehoe lava.

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These eruptions combined to create a total volume of 77 million cubic miles and a maximum thickness of two-and-a-half miles. Yet the eruptions were so slow on average that they did not result in any mass extinction.

Since both major events happened millions of years ago, Russia would still fall victim to erosion. But even if we do take erosion into consideration, what kinds of landscapes and topographies would these two major events result in for 21st-century Russia? Would we still see vast, singular bands of boreal forests and steppes, or would we expect to see Russia hosting a wider variety of habitats?

  • $\begingroup$ people are surprisingly preoccupied by geology in this sub $\endgroup$ – Julius Sep 5 '16 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ Don't have time to do full answer. Examples, Drakensburg mountains were basaltic lavaflows(don't know if duration is the same). Ethiopian Highlands near the great rift valley. Snow and ice will collect in the valleys(latitude) and result in large glaciers eroding your basalt buildup. You would then have fresh water lakes /rivers forming at the base of the glaciers and lots of lose minerals (soil). I imagine resulting in more varied plant types than just grass. I think it fair to say that near your lava forming regions, the steppes and boreal forests won't be the same, if they exist at all. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Sep 5 '16 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ Forests still likely, steppes not so much! At least near the new different regions. Steppes could possible still exist further away on a reduced scale. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Sep 5 '16 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey, I tried. Several times. Either I cannot explain things like significant digits and calibrating climate models properly or you do not understand it. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Sep 5 '16 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey, what is erosion if not a climate-related effect? That's just my point, you can't take individual aspects and change them in isolation, we're talking about a very complex, interconnected system here. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Sep 5 '16 at 15:42

@JohnWDailey; While I'm intrigued by the question, I must admit that quantifying the cumulative effects of weather on a topography over a quarter billion years span...well, any answer must carry so many caveats that they are merely speculation.

I will add this: the Siberian Traps, like distant relative the Deccan Traps are speculatively considered to be a likely antipodal 'eruption' point from a 'Global Killer' impact event - hence the Permian extinction.

The point I'm trying to get at is that the very existence of the Traps was a global weather changing event, and that the resulting highlands and steppes are overshadowed by the notion that without the Permian extinction, we likely wouldn't be sitting here at keyboards today.

Forests, Yes. Glaciation? Yes. Humanity to observe your hypothetical alt-Russian uplands ? probably not.

  • $\begingroup$ Not relevant. And 17 million years is too slow for a major extinction event. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Sep 7 '16 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey This is then unlike the original Siberian Traps. See le.ac.uk/gl/ads/SiberianTraps/… This suggests ST was contemporaneous with the Permian-Triassic transition, & possibly caused it. There is a strong link between flood basalts & mass extinctions. See le.ac.uk/gl/ads/SiberianTraps/FBandME.html $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 2 '17 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey One difficulty in answering your question is that it isn't readily apparent your Siberian Traps happens over a period of17 million years. This can only be inferred from your heading "60-43 million years ago--Siberian Traps". Certainly a longer timescale reduces the possibility of a mass extinction. The majority of answers agree on very forested landscape for alt.Russia. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 2 '17 at 12:43

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