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Profile of the Northern Lime Alps

by Alexander Sohm last modified 2007-01-08 13:22

You are at the viewpoint „Ganzalaeta“ at an altitude of 1,607 meters.  Have a seat on the wooden bench.  Below, you can see the village of Dalaas in the Klostertal.  In front of you is the steep, rocky northern flank of the Klostertal.  If you have a PDA with you, use the photo with the drawn in layers of rocks to help you with your orientation.

On the horizon you can see a massive rock face with extensive screes at the foot.  This is the Fensterlewand or Window Wall.  On the right, to the east, you can see the Saladinaspitze, a distinctive rock outcrop at 2,238 meters.  Farther on to the east you can see the Boengertlekopf and Pfaffeneck peaks in the background.  The flat ridgeback further to the east is the Gehrengrat with the Bamsboden peak.  The deeply etched brook in the west is called the Hölltobel or Hell Canyon.  The canyons to the east of this are the Falltobel, Sandtobel and Rothtobel and a little bit further to the east is the somewhat deeper Muttentobel. 

This valley flank penetrated by rocks offers an ideal place to look at the layers of the Northern Lime Alps.  Let's begin at the top at the Fensterlewand and work our way down through the layers, from the youngest to the oldest rocks.  The Fensterlewand is made up of Rhaet limestone and stone from the Koessen layers.  Underneath is the main dolomite which is also what the Saladina peak is made of.  The main dolomite is made up of grey to brownish dolomite rock with different amounts of bitumen in it.  That is why, if you break the rocks apart, you can smell bitumen.

Towards the valley, near the Hell's Canyon you can see yellowish-browny layers of rock.  These are th Raibler layers of sandstone, limestone, rauhwacken, gypsum and clay marl.   The Raibler layers are known because of the gypsum deposits which are in St. Anton in Montafon and in Rellstal, among other places.

Under the Raibler layers are the Arlberg layers with bulky banks of lime and dolomite stones with clay deposits and rauhwacken as well as chert in between.  They can be up to 370 meters thick.  The rocks of the Arlberg layers were deposited in a flat lake which slowly sunk.

 Under that, we find the Partnach layers.  Characteristic for this layer is the coarse breaking, brown-black clay slate and marl.  The Partnach layers act like dams, weather easily and make fertile soil.

 After the Partnach layers we find the Alpine shell limestone.  This formation contains up to a 160 meter thick good layered sequence of carbonates.  Near the top the limestone is darker and often contains dark brown to black chert which was used in some regions of the Alps as a flint stone to make fire with in earlier times.

Underneath that are the rocks that stick out because of their red colour.  The Alpine Veruccano-Coloured sand stone.  This formation is the foundation of the Northern Lime Alps with its foot at the base of the Kristallin of the Silvrettakristallin. 

The profile of the rocks of the Northern Lime Alps that you can see from here covers deposits in a time frame of about 180 million years.


P08-2 profile northern lime alps.mp3

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