6. The Footpath

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6. The Footpath

Here there is a footpath that leads to Corno Bianco. Earlier on, you have glimpsed  from afar at its marvellous colour, given by the Dolomia rocks. Let’s imagine the Bletterbach as a big house, with the Corno Bianco is its roof and the Bletterbach gorge as its foundations. To understand why the roof is so beautiful, we need to know a few things on the foundations first. 

Roughly 280 million years ago,  massive flows of incandescent magma came out from the earth’s crust. They solidified in what it is now called the Atesina Porphyric Platform, a large, very large slab of quartz porphyry, that is, a dark rock purplish and reddish in colour, with a minute grit where bigger light crystals are immersed. 

As time passed, the climate changed, and both mud and sand of a brick-red colour accumulated on porphyry, giving rise to the Val Gardena Sandstone Formation. 

The fact that the colour of the rocks is different is important: rocks change their look depending on the environment they are in. Those that settle on  sea bottom, for example, are very different from those that form in a creek. This helps geologists to distinguish them, catalogue them and figure out the life environments in which they have settled. 

Later on, the same area became covered by sea water. Low lagoons were formed, the beds that would later become calcareous sediments and layered deposits, rich in fossils of the creatures that used to inhabit them. Geologists called them respectively Bellerophon and Werfen formations. 

More recently, even though we are still talking about hundreds of millions of years ago, a completely new rock settled on top of these sediments: the Contrin Formation, which we describe in the insights.