Lake Teletskoye in the northeastern part of the Altai mountain range has attracted the attention of geo-scientists for a long time, because it fills an impressive tectonic depression. The lake is 77 kin long and 4 kin wide, and it has a maximum water depth of 325 in. The vertical offset of the basement surface is up to 3000 m. A multidisciplinary study of the Teletsk graben was carried out during the last few years, including satellite image and air photo analysis, bathymetric-, structural- and geomorphological mapping, high-resolution seismic profiling and seismic refraction. The structural study revealed that reactivation of preexisting weak basement zones is important in controlling the basin formation. These zones separate different tectonic terranes at the contact of which the Teletsk graben developed. This study identifies the significance of the basin in the regional neotectonic context. It shows that the major vertical movements are restricted to the basin itself, but do not characterize the whole region. Outside of the basin, recent tectonic structures have the same pattern as adjacent areas of Northeast Altai and West-Sayan. Quaternary glaciations have had no major influence on the basin formation. Two stages of faulting are identified. First, transpressive movements restricted to discrete (reactivated) fault zones controlled the opening of the basin. In the second stage, normal faulting is dominant and is responsible for the modem basin outline. An echo-sounding survey led to the recognition of several morphological characteristics of the lake bottom. In the southern part, the uppermost sediments seem slightly disturbed, whereas further north, transverse ridges and slope breaks are increasingly common. The deepest part of the lake is located in a highly disturbed zone of normal fault-bounded blocks. The structural difference between the southern and northern subbasins is supported by the interpretation of a deep seismic refraction profile which indicates a substantial increase of basement isochores in the area where the reactivated Teletsk (Paleozoic) shear zone crosses the lake. Correlation of high-resolution seismic profiles suggests that the Teletsk graben started to evolve during the Pleistocene, and that its present shape was formed in two stages. The first stage was responsible for the opening of the southern basin. It probably started in the Middle Pleistocene. A second kinematic stage induced by a sinistral reactivation of the NE striking West-Sayan fault initiated the opening of the different segments of the northern subbasin due to opposite movements between the reactivated Teletsk and West-Sayan faults. This second stage was active after the end of Late Pleistocene glaciations and during the Holocene. The recent lateral extension and the related N-S-trending normal faults result from a change in tectonic regime, with related extensional movements along the main reactivated fault zones. These recent movements result in the lateral escape of the lake borders and the collapse of the area between them. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.