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History of the Valley

by Theresa König last modified 2008-02-19 14:50

History of the Valley  

The glaciers of the last ice age eroded the valley to a depth of about 100 metres below the actual valley floor along weak zones in the rocks.  At the height of the last glaciation about 18,000 to 20,000 years ago, the glacier reached up to the level shown on the plate. Only the highest peaks could be seen as nunataks or islands in the stream of ice. Because they weren’t polished by the ice, they have kept their rugged appearance.

The landscape was shaped during the retreat of the glaciers; a period that was interrupted by several short stops and re-advances. First of all the side valleys became ice-free.  On the other hand, the ice in the main valley along the Ill River was more resistant, because the main glacier had its source in the higher mountains of the Silvretta. The outer parts of the Montafon valley became ice free about 11,000 years ago.

Late and short stops of the glacier retreat are marked by the small hollows in Latschau, Obere and Untere Krista, Bitschweil, Mansaura and Hora. During the retreat small rivers flowed along those hollows. The source of these brooks was at the upper end of the meanwhile ice free side valleys (like Gauertal, Gampadelstal, and Rellstal). After the final retreat of the Ill-Glacier, the floor of the main valley was filled with sand and gravel from the alluvial fans from the side valleys. Today the villages of Schruns, Tschagguns and Vandans are situated on such alluvial fans. The forces of erosion of the ice resulted in steep slopes. After the retreat of the stabilizing glacier ice, the slopes reacted by releasing instable parts of the mountain. At the end of the last glaciation, rapid warming – it was warmer than today – took place and plants sprung up in the new space. In those times, the timber line reached a higher altitude than today. On the Golm facing you, a moraine from the Ill-glacier was found below the hard rocks of the Silvretta Crystalline during the construction of the Lake Luener power plant. This Silvretta Crystalline rock was thrust over the moraine by mass movements. At the top of the Golm at Grüneck, 4,800 year old trees were found below several metres of hard rock.

Erosion of the mountains still takes place as is demonstrated by the un-weathered walls of the northern end of the Vandanser Steinwand or the Vandans Stone Wall that are free of vegetation. Since 1970 several hundred thousand cubic meters of rock have fallen down into the Vens gully.

For at least the last 4,000 years the shape of the landscape has been largely influenced by man. In the course of cultivation, mountain torrents like the Ill River or the creeks from the side valleys were regulated with the help of dams. All the meadows are the result of clearing. During the last 125 years the landscape has undergone distinctive changes due to the construction of roads, power plants, tourist infrastructures like lifts and growing settlements.


P02-1 History of the valley.mp3

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