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The formation of the Dolomites

Approximately 285 million years ago, the area that is now Val di Fassa was submerged beneath an expanse of warm, shallow sea. The genesis of the mountain chain that surrounds this area began thanks to the accumulation of shells, sponges, seaweed, mussels, coral and limestone that were gradually transformed into rock.

Volcanoes formed on the floor of this tropical ocean and eruptions from these contributed to the sedimentation of lava, ash and tuff.

Movement of the earth’s crust and collision between the European and African plates led to the elevation of submerged rocks that reached levels of up to 3000 m above sea level.

Three factors were decisive in the formation of what we see today: structural factors, modelling agents, and therefore atmospheric elements, and climate conditions. The rocks that form the Dolomites were essentially of two types: resistant rocks that have a more angular and rugged shape and weaker rocks which have softer shapes. The Marmolada Group consists of both types.

The name ‘Dolomites’ derives from the name of the French geologist and naturalist, Deodat de Dolomieu, who was the first to study the predominant rock of the region, which was then called the Dolostone in his honour. The ancient name according to legend was ‘Pale Mountains’, due to the characteristic pale colour of the rock, which at dawn and dusk however takes on a reddish colour that is known as Alpenglow.

On 26th June 2009 in Siviglia, the members of the World Heritage Committee voted unanimously to include the Dolomites in the list of World Heritage Sites.

The nine groups chosen were: Pelmo-Croda da Lago, Marmolada, Pale di San Martino, Dolomiti friulane, Dolomiti settentrionali, Puez-Odle, Catinaccio, Rio delle foglie and Brenta

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