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A landscape carved by glaciers

Geomorphology

An outing to discover the Park's rocks (L. Martinelli/PNAM).

Alpi Marittime Nature Park is in the south west Alps between the Mediterranean sea and the Piedmontese plains. It has more than twenty peaks over 3000 metres and is characterized by deep, narrow valleys, closed in by steep mountains . The secret of the Maritime Alps austere charm lies in their geological history, written by the rocks and glaciers over thousands of years.

The protected area has a heart of crystalline rock: made of the granite and gneiss that form the Argentera-Mercantour massif at the head of the valleys. We can see the effects of glacial erosion, which has modelled the landscape leaving it as we find it today, with cirques and glacial lakes, moraine and huge smooth rocks.

At the Park borders on the other hand, we find large areas of sedimentary rocks, where karstification has worn away the limestone and dolomite leaving erosional features including caves.
The variety of rock types is the key to understanding the variability of the scenery and species over the space of a few kilometres, in other words the extraordinary biodiversity of Alpi Marittime Nature Park.


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