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Geological features

Park’s territory consists of carbonate mountains (elevated about 2000 m or more) such as Majella, Morrone, Porrara, Pizzalto and Rotella, separated by valleys and karst plateaux.

Generally speaking, elevations ranges from 130 to 2793 m (Mt. Amaro). In terms of geology, Majella is the most distinctive massif of the Apennines. The fossil record shown that its limestone originates in marine sediments deposited mainly starting from 100 million years ago at the bottom of a tropical sea. The orogeny dates back 5 MY to the Pliocene epoch.

The Majella massif has a rounded shape due to its anticline fold structure. At the top, Quaternary glaciations moulded cirques and valleys, such as Femmina Morta that has a glacial origin and later was re-shaped by karst processes. On the eastern and northern side of Majella, fluvial valleys such as Orfento, Mandrelle-Santo Spirito and Taranta deeply incise the massif slopes.

The lower portion of the Orta valley between the Majella massif and Mt. Morrone resembles a canyon, giving rise to a unique landscape. Because of karst phenomenon the limestone mountains of the Park appear to be arid at high elevations. On the contrary, they are rich in groundwater that flows copiously from springs at mountain foot. More than hundred caves occur around the Majella massif. The Cavallone cave contains a large number of stalactites and stalagmites whereas the Grotta Nera consists of moonmilk. Grotta Scura is of speleological interest. Dolines, sinkholes, limestone pavements and karren are some of the karst surface features.

Towards the south, Mt. Porrara rises adjacent to one of the Park’s karst plateaux (Quarto di Santa Chiara) at an elevation of 1250 m. Water vanishing in to its sinkhole re-emerges on the opposite slope, near Capo di Fiume (Palena). Here you find an important paleontological geosite. In the south-east, the geomorphology completely changes: the Mt. Pizzi and Mt. Secine marly rocks tower above a gentle landscape of clayey deposits.

Image of a fossil tooth
Image of sinkholes
Image of sinkholes - Val Cannella
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