Eastern Alps


Alpine subdivision in Western and Eastern Alps


Eastern Alps is the name given to the eastern part of the Alps. They include the mountain ranges east of an imaginary line from Lake Constance along the Rhine over the Splügenpass to Lake Como. In comparison to the Western Alps they are lower and gentler, with less high passes. The Eastern Alps turned by Switzerland and Liechtenstein from all over Austria - Vorarlberg up to the Burgenland and reached Hungarian territory and the northern border of Italy to Slovenia. They also roam Germany, where they form the entire Alpine share.

  • 3.1 Northern Alps ( Northern Eastern Alps ) 3.1.1 Northern sandstone zone / flysch and molasse
  • 3.1.2 Northern Limestone Alps Northern Limestone Alps
  • Northern Limestone Alps
  • 3.5.1 Southern Limestone Alps
  • 3.5.2 Southern Längstalzug
  • 3.5.3 Southern shale zone
  • 3.5.4 Southern sandstone zone


The Eastern Alps are lower than the Western Alps, as well as access to most of their passports not so great heights as those of the Western Alps. The Alpine arc in the east runs less curved than the western Alpine arc. The Eastern Alps show in its western region, a strong südwestvergente cross folding, bulging to Verona. The middle part is clearly divided east-west running, this Längstalfurchen the great Alpine Rivers Inn, Salzach, Enns, Adige / Eisack, Gail / Drau and Mur / Murz that follow the tectonic faults, divide the eastern Alps in characteristic chains. To the east, these chains fan out that several large bays edge surround ( Vienna Basin, Graz Basin and others). Please contact the north, where they approach to within a few kilometers of the Bohemian Massif, northeast ( decreased up to 6 km in depth ) against the Carpathians. In the middle of a spur dive into the Pannonian basin. The Südketten turn to the south, and go near the upper Adriatic Sea in the Dinaric Alps over. Overall, the Eastern Alps are wider and more diverse structured than the Western Alps, so that when crossing the Alps, often 2 to 4 passes are overcome.

Most of the Eastern Alps rivers show sudden breakthrough valleys to the north or south, divide the eastern Alps and in the longitudinal direction in a number of groups. The largest inner alpine reduction field is the Klagenfurt basin. The Eastern Alps are rich in lakes (Salzkammergut, Carinthia's lakes) and bogs. The highest mountain of the Eastern Alps is Piz Bernina, which is their only four-thousand with 4,049 meters.

The following states have to the Eastern Alps ( ranked according mountain area):

  • Austria; highest mountain Grossglockner, 3,798 m, in the Glockner Group
  • Italy; highest mountain in the Eastern Alps La Spalla or Spedla, 4,020 m, in the Bernina Range
  • Switzerland; highest mountain in the Eastern Alps, the Piz Bernina (highest peak ), 4,049 m in the Bernina Range
  • Germany; highest mountain Zugspitze, 2962 m, in Wettersteingebirge
  • Slovenia; highest mountain Triglav, 2,864 m, in the Julian Alps
  • Liechtenstein; highest mountain: Grauspitz, 2,599 m, in the Rätikon.

Outline of the Eastern Alps

Geomorphological structure

The assignment in Northern, Central and Southern Alps based on the large Längstalzüge. While these often follow the boundaries of rock, but cut in places, the zones. The mostly fine classification follows the valleys. In the Eastern Alps as the predominantly crystalline Central Alps are great valleys of the north and south lines lying systems - separately - in particular the Northern and Southern Limestone Alps.

  • The northern Alps or North Eastern Alps (mostly Northern Limestone Alps ) include from west to east, the Bregenzerwald Mountains, the Rätikon that Lechquellengebirge, the Allgäu, Lech Valley and Oberammergau Alps, the Wettersteingebirge, the Karwendel and Rofangebirge, the Bavarian Alps, the Kaiser mountains, the Lofer Steinberg mountains, the Leogang Mountains, Berchtesgaden Alps, the Salzkammergut and the Lower Austrian Limestone Alps.
  • The Central Alps are from west to east divided into Rhaetian Alps, Bernina group Ortlergruppe Verwallgruppe, Ötztal Alps, Zillertal Alps, High and Low Tauern and Lavanttaler or Noric Alps, Pohorje. In you the main Alpine ridge runs
  • The Southern Alps are made from west to east from: Bergamo Alps, Trentino Alps, Dolomites, Venetians, Carnic and Julian Alps and the Karavanke.

Tectonic structure

Geologic let the Alps roughly divided into three regions: Western Alps, Eastern Alps and Southern Alps.

Western and eastern Alps here are made ​​up of vast ceiling systems that were more or less pushed over the European continental margin to the North:

  • Helvetic System ( Helvetic ): The Helvetic ceilings occur only at the extreme northern edge of the Eastern Alps to days ( in the Western Alps much more spacious ) and represent the European shelf. They were transported over relatively short distances.
  • Penninisches system ( Penninic ): The Pennine ceilings represent a former, relatively narrow ocean basin south of the European continental shelf, together with some continental snippets. They are pushed onto the Helvetic. In the Eastern Alps, they occur almost exclusively in tectonic windows to light, for example in the Lower Engadine Window to the west of Tyrol and the Grisons, in the Tauern window in the Eastern Tyrol and Salzburg, as well as in the window of Rechnitz ( Günser mountains). The Pennine ceilings include, among others, the flysch (sandstone zone ) and various crystalline rocks.
  • Ostalpines system ( Austroalpine, Austro Alpine ): The Austroalpine represents the northern shelf of the collided with Europe Kontinenalscholle (s). It was probably transported over long distances, covering in almost the entire Eastern Alps the Penninic and thus dominates the local geology. So it builds the Northern Kalkzone ( Northern Limestone Alps ), the slate and greywacke zone, the crystalline zone (central zone, Central Eastern Alps ), in the midst of which come to light the Penninic units in the tectonic windows, as well as the Gail Valley Alps and the northern train the Karawanken. In the western Alps Eastern Alpine units do not occur. This and the areal dominance of the Austroalpine in the eastern part of the Alpine arc are the main reasons for the geological distinction between Eastern and Western Alps.

South of the fault line Gailtal Eisenkappl ( Alpine- Dinaric scar ) emerge the Dinaric blankets that were pushed over, in contrast to the Helvetic, Penninic and Austroalpine, to the south. The transport distances here were relatively low. Tectonic units are all south of this scar, almost the entire Southern Alps, together with the Dinarides of the Balkans into its own system. This means, taken together with the above points to the ceiling construction that neither the geographical term, Alps ' nor the geographical term, Eastern Alps ' means a self-contained complex geological.

Petrological structure

By criteria of petrology, the Eastern Alps divided into seven rock zones. In contrast to the Western Alps in the Eastern Alps, do not include parautochthonen masses; they are a ceiling and fold mountains, prominent in the western alpine ceiling only at margins and in geological windows.

  • Sandstone zone ( flysch ) with Molasse - narrow is widening in the central region, to the west and east
  • Northern Kalkzone ( Northern Limestone Alps ) - the main mass of the Northern Alps
  • Northern slate - greywacke zone - bedrock of the lime, mountain forming in Tirolisch - Salzburg area and Styrian- Lower Austrian
  • Crystalline Zone - corresponds approximately to the main Alpine ridge and the Central Alps
  • Southern slate - greywacke zone - on the southern border of Austria
  • Southern Kalkzone ( Southern Limestone Alps ) - mostly in Slovenia and Italy
  • Southern Sandstone zone - barely trained; in Italy

In East Tyrol and Carinthia ceiling structure and rock zones do not match. The Gail valley lying north of the Alps Alpine- Dinaric scar, but are made of limestone and are therefore expected mostly to the southern Kalkzone (and thus to the Southern Alps ). The Southern shale zone is enclosed in the Carnic Alps in the north and south of the southern trains Kalkzone.

To the west is a striking S-shaped curvature of the rock zones. The crystalline zone sweeps zoom in Silvretta from the south and there turn toward the east. The limestone mountains of Rätikons is located south of the great Längstalflucht. The Adige Valley from Bolzano is the rock swipe a longitudinal valley. The Kalkzone forms in the area of ​​Lake Garda, a characteristic spur that is located tens of kilometers south of the other southern border.

On the problem of the Alps mountain divisions in groups

An internationally recognized classification of the Alps in subgroups is still not available. In the literature of mountaineering in Austria, Germany and South Tyrol Alpine Club classification of the Eastern Alps from 1984, based on a four-division of the Eastern Alps, as usual. The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC ) divides the Swiss Alps part, also located in the Eastern Alps part, which is known there as the Central Alps, in a first plane along the borders of Canton ( a political term ) to delineate geographical units. In Austrian official and scientific works of hydrography is generally strictly orographic mountain group breakdown by Hubert Trimmel in use. The usual in Italy and France division is the Partizione delle Alpi in 1926 for the whole Alps. A more recent approach is the Suddivisione orografica Internazionale del Sistema Unificata Alpino ( SOIUSA ), which seeks to combine the AVE and the Partizione. In other countries of the Alpine region or outside, as well as various professional and interest groups, other boundaries, divisions, and boundaries of subgroups of the Alps are partly common.

Zone sequence in north-south direction

Northern Alps ( Northern Eastern Alps )

The North Alpine Molasse include a sandstone zone, the northern Kalkzone and the main part of the northern shale zone. From the two former and the lower part of the Limestone Alps, the Northern Alps, the rest of the Limestone Limestone, which are already partially glaciated form, in the south, a part again middle mountain zone excludes similar to.

Northern sandstone zone / flysch and molasse

The sandstone zone, also called flysch zone, consists of rocks of the Cretaceous and early Tertiary. It rises just over the foothills of the Alps. The flysch zone is relatively narrow ( it takes about a fifth of the Northern Alps, a ) is broadened in the west part of the Bregenz Forest, to the east it extends from the Salzach about the Salzkammergut mountains, Eisenwurzen to the Vienna woods, in between it is missing in some sections of the Bavarian Alps almost entirely. It is about 1000 m high in a highland region, in the southern reaches Bregenzerwald but over 2,000 m, where there also shares the Helvetic system from Switzerland across project ( such as limestones at Hochifen and Kanisfluh ). In the Salzkammergut the limit of flysch and limestone forms a striking ceiling forehead (dragon wall, Sheep Mountain, Hell Mountains, Bavaria). The rocks of the zone as flysch, marl and shale are little resistance, they form typical of the flysch zone back and hilltops; in the West burrs. The mountains of the flysch zone carry predominantly mixed deciduous forests and meadows. The often powerful, loamy weathering ceiling tends to landslides and favored by the rapid outflow of the emergence of floods.

The Subalpine Molasse forms the northern edge of the Alps. It is formed from the deformed of the Alps molasses, so solidified erosion debris (conglomerates ) of the early Alps. Landscape, it is characterized with the exception of the northern Bregenzerwald and the Allgäu hardly from, but forms the transition region of the Alps to the northern Alpine foreland with its moraine.

Northern Limestone Alps

The Northern Limestone Alps are composed of Mesozoic rocks ( particularly Triassic). The Limestone Alps are divided into the Limestone Alps and the Limestone.

Northern Limestone Alps

The Limestone Alps are composed of dolomites and limestones and are a low mountain range with cutting, cones and sticks, which can be up to 1600 m high. The Northern Limestone Alps are mainly covered by spruce mixed forests. In the limestone karst formations arise. The water-impermeable dolomite, however, is strongly zertalt, provided with brittle rock formations and screes of fine Grus. In the Limestone Alps, there are individual higher elevations such as the Oetscher or Sengsengebirge. Your assignment to the Alps or the Kalkhochalpen is however debatable.

Northern Limestone Alps

Just south of the Limestone Alps extend the rocky Kalkhochalpen, which consist primarily of limestones (in the west Wettersteinkalk, Dachstein Limestone in the east ) and the Dolomites. From the Wilder Kaiser mountains to the west, they consist mainly of water-stressed chains that are steeply stacked and fitted with forest escapes. In addition, the Kalkhochalpen with ridges, peaks, towers, deeply pitted Karen and mighty screes are provided. The chain character that predominates in the more western Limestone, is in the Lech Valley Alps particularly pronounced ( with the highest mountain in the Northern Alps ), the Wettersteingebirge and Karwendel Mountains. From Tame Emperor against the east, limestone massifs find with karstified, waterless, barren plateaus limestone fields and sinkholes. Then grow large stands of dwarf pine ( larch). Between the limestone plateau is a wide-meshed network of rivers in deep valleys and gorges. The plateaus show a hunchback, domed Altlandschaft ( in the East " Raxlandschaft ") and preserve the shallower relief of tertiary Alps, which does not cut as a result of karstification during and after uplift of the mountain, but was reshaped during the ice age. The eastern Kalkhochalpen exhibit plateau character. Many caves are left as remains of former underground drainage. Are located at the base of the limestone mountains of salt and gypsum warehouse and source horizons ( karst springs ) on slates.

Northern slate - greywacke zone

The slate - greywacke zone is a narrow strip of Palaeozoic slates, sandstones and limestones. In the West show the Slate Alps (from the population referred to as " grass-covered mountains " ) mountain pastures and rich source of back and cutting, about places, ridges and peaks in shales and limestones harder: Kitzbühel Alps ( Tyrol ) and Salzburg Slate Alps. In the greywacke zone, such as the Alps on the other hand dominate Eisenerzer scenic Kalkklötze. The shale zone contains storage of iron and copper ore, magnesite, graphite and talc. The slate Alps are largely in the west to the north, the east (after the Dachstein massif, where it is almost interrupted) south of the Längstalflucht, and therefore there usually counted as the Central Alps.

Northern Längstalzug

The northern Längstalzug forms the approximate boundary between North and Central Alps. It runs well within the shale zone or at its edge: Walgau (lower Ill ) - Kloster - Arlberg - Stanz - Inn valley - Zillertal - Gerlos Pass ( or Inn valley - Talfurche of Ellmau - Pass of Grießen - Saalachtal - Talwasserscheide of cell - Salzach ) - Wagrainer height - (or Fritztal ) - Enns - Paltental - Schoberpass - Liesingtal - Mur - Muerztal - Semmering - Schwarzatal. The Talzug is usually designed wide, glacially from the west to the saddle and Schober shows alluvial fan of the side streams and terraces.

Central Alps

The Central Alps are largely identical with the crystalline zone, consisting of Precambrian and Paleozoic remnants of a Variscan mountain belt ( Altkristallin ) and the Tauern window. They consist mainly of hard, impermeable gneiss and granite gneisses and mica schists; places with Kalkschollen (for example south of Innsbruck ) and Kalkbändern.

The Central Alps are rich in springs, streams and cirque lakes; in the west they have large glaciers on (especially Hohe Tauern, Zillertal, Stubai and Ötztal Alps, Silvretta, Ortler, Bernina ). In this case, there are significant differences in the amount and form of image between the west and east of the Central Alps:

To the west is the highly dissected Silvretta and Verwallgruppe with rugged " horns "; the massive, asymmetric Ötztal and Stubai Alps with long side ridges to the north are heavily glaciated; here are wild peak ( second highest mountain in Austria ); White ball and Zuckerhütl ( named after his Firnbedeckung ).

East of the burner furrow are fiederförmig arranged, elongated chains, which are referred because of glaciations as " Keesberge " ( Zillertal Alps and Hohe Tauern ).

Further characteristics of the western Central Alps and the Hohe Tauern ( to Katschberg ) are pyramidal peaks, vast snowfields, which are separated by rocky ridges; lower down cirques with lakes, some wide Karplatten; reaching in Talanfänge glacier tongues; deep, gradually - and water-rich trough valleys; extensive alpine meadows, larch and spruce forests.

In contrast, the eastern Central Alps are lower and divided into several ridges, between which there are reduction fields. The Lower Tauern today are unglaciated, but have shapes such as glacial cirques and cirque lakes, ridges and pyramidal peaks (especially in the rugged granite gneiss) on. South of the Mur- Murz - furrow predominate despite altitudes above 2000 m the central mountain forms: wide back are presumed remains of a tertiary bas-reliefs, showing only partially Karbildungen. Similarly, more mat than to find rock regions and vast pine forests. The Gurktaler Alps are called because of " Nock " in the southwest part of their round shapes.

The eastern mountain chains separate from the flood plains in the east and the southeast characteristic in two trains, one of which accompanied the Northern Limestone Alps to the northeast, and south-eastern branch. They enclose some cutting and sedimentary basins, and large edge alpine basins in which petroleum and coal is extracted (mainly in Graz, Vienna and Fohnsdorf Basin ), and can also be found of recent volcanism is ( Styrian volcano land area of ​​Graz ). The Styrian Edge Mountains ( mountain range east of the Mur) will last around 2,000 m approach and include in a semicircle, the Graz Bay, the largest of the alpine basin edge, and end after the Hungarian border in forested low mountain spurs. In the northeast it borders as well as the Vienna Woods on the wide valley of the Vienna Basin, where the former mountains now are below 2-6 km thick sediment layers. Beyond this fracture zone make some island Mountains ( Leitha Mountains and Hainburg Mountains) as a bridge to the Carpathians. Between them, the Danube imposed by the Hainburger gate in the Great Hungarian Plain. In the south, the Central Alps strips from in the Pohorje ( Pohorje ) in Slovenia. To the east of the central Alpine dive in the Pannonian lowlands - and the depth he finds himself still up in the Hungarian Danube region.

Southern Alps

In the Southern Alps is the Längstalzug, which is a consistently geologically significant border in the north, within the Kalkzone. The pronounced in the north nichtkalkigen zones are missing in the south up to a rudimentary Flyschzone consistently, so that the terms Southern Eastern Alps, Southern Alps and Southern Limestone Alps largely denote the same space. Only at the western end of the Crystalline extends far to the south, so here are some Massive, not belonging to the Southern Kalkzone to be counted among the Southern Alps (and summarized by the AVE as neither Western Eastern Alps ). In the east, are crystalline masses as the Pohorje plateau, which lies south of the Drava River, partly associated with the Southern Alps.

The South Alps are not so clearly wide circle parallel organized as the Northern Alps. Due to the S-shaped curvature emphasize rock trains approach in South Tyrol from the south. The deeply dissected Bolzano porphyry plateau merges into the crystalline Sarntaler Alps in the north. East of the Southern Limestone Alps at close of Mesozoic rocks. Reef limestones and dolomites form empires form battlements, towers, poles ( Marmolada ). Before that, there are alpine pastures foothills of slate. The Gail Valley Alpine limestone and dolomite culminate in the wild -torn Lienz Dolomites and end in the east in a mountain plateau ( Dobratsch ). In the south it is bounded by straight-line valley of Gail; the Alpine- Dinaric scar ( Periadriatic seam) follows.

Southern Limestone Alps

The border between the Central Alps and Southern Limestone Alps is formed by the fault line of Periadriatic seam.

Southern Längstalzug

The southern Längstalzug forms the border between Central and Southern Alps. It runs from the Pusteria ( Rienztal - Dobbiaco field - Upper Drau Valley ) by the Drau valley further into the Klagenfurt basin to the valley of the Miess / Meza. The Längstalzug is glacially widened and covered with large alluvial fans and valley floors wet.

Southern shale zone

The southern shale zone is no longer Längzone, but only forms an enclosed, more or less compact area. It consists of the Carnic Alps, with rounded slate mountains and calipers, which are dominated by rugged blocks and teeth from Paleozoic limestones ( Hohewarte ). East of the Gailitzfurche the limestone chains are the Karawanken ( high chair). Under rock walls usually is dense spruce forest with relatively little pastures. The southern tip of Austria reached the Steiner Alps.

Southern Sandstone zone

The southern sandstone zone is only in the Lombard Alps between Lake Como and Lake Iseo ( southern slopes of the Bergamo Alps ), in the Venetian Alps ( Belluno Alps, southern parts of the southern Carnic Alps) between Brenta and Tagliamento, and in the far east in the Friulian -Slovenian border region and in the to find the valley of the Isonzo ( Soča ). In Trentino and Lake Garda mountains of lime immersed directly into the Po Valley.