Central Eastern Alps

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Central Eastern Alps
Pan venediger klein.jpg
Highest point
Peak Piz Bernina
Elevation 4,049 m (13,284 ft)
Coordinates 46°22′56.6″N 9°54′29.2″E / 46.382389°N 9.908111°E / 46.382389; 9.908111Coordinates: 46°22′56.6″N 9°54′29.2″E / 46.382389°N 9.908111°E / 46.382389; 9.908111
Geography
Central Eastern Alps.png
Central Eastern Alps ranges (purple lines showing international borders and borders of Austrian states):
Prealps East of the Mur (1) * Lavanttal Alps (2) * Low Tauern (3) * Gurktal Alps (4) * High Tauern (5) * Kitzbühel Alps (6) * Zillertal Alps (7) * Tux Alps (8) * Stubai Alps (9) * Sarntal Alps (10) * Ötztal Alps (11) * Samnaun Alps (12) * Verwall Alps (13) * Rätikon (14) * Silvretta Alps (15) * Sesvenna (16) * Albula Alps (17) * Plessur Alps (18) * Oberhalbstein Alps (19) * Livigno Alps (20) * Bernina (21) * Bergamo Alps (22)
Countries
States
Parent range Eastern Alps
Geology
Orogeny Alpine
Period Mesozoic and Tertiary
Type of rock Gneiss and Slate

The Central Eastern Alps (German: Zentrale Ostalpen), also referred to as Austrian Central Alps (Österreichische Zentralalpen) or just Central Alps[1] comprise the main chain of the Eastern Alps in Austria and the adjacent regions of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy and Slovenia.

The term "Central Alps" is very common in the Geography of Austria as one of the seven major landscape regions of the country. "Central Eastern Alps" is usually used in connexion with the Alpine Club classification of the Eastern Alps (Alpenvereinseinteilung, AVE). The Central Alps form the eastern part of the Alpine divide, its central chain of mountains, as well as those ranges that extend or accompany it to the north and south.

Location[edit]

The Central Alps have the highest peaks of the Eastern Alps, and are located between the Northern Limestone Alps and the Southern Limestone Alps, from which they differ in geological composition.

Mainly located in Austria, they extend from the foot of the Bergamasque Alps at Lake Como and the Bernina Range in the Graubünden canton of eastern Switzerland along the Liechtenstein shore of the Rhine in the west as far as to the lower promontories east of the Mur river including the Hochwechsel in Austrian Styria. The valleys of the rivers Inn, Salzach and Enns mark their northern boundary, the Drau river (roughly corresponding to the Periadriatic Seam) their southern border.

Central Alps as a major landscape region in Austria[edit]

In Austria, the Eastern Alps are divided into the Northern Alps, the Greywacke zone, the Central Alps and the Southern Alps. The latter lie in South Carinthia, but mainly in Northeast Italy.

The Central and Northern Alps are separated by the Northern Longitudinal Trough (nördliche Längstalfurche), the line Klostertal - Arlberg - Inn Valley - Salzach Valley as far as Lake Zell - Wagrain Heights - Upper Enns Valley - Schober Pass - Mürz Valley Alps - Semmering - southern Vienna Basin.[2] The Central Alps and Southern Alps are separated from one another by the Southern Longitudinal Valley (südlichen Längstalzug) Puster Valley (Rienz Valley – Toblach Field – upper Drava (Drau) Valley) – Drava Valley – Klagenfurt Basin – Meža (Mieß), or the Periadriatic Seam, which is not entirely identical with the Southern longitudinal trough.

Geomorphology[edit]

The range has the highest summits in the Eastern Alps and is the most glaciated. In the transition zone between the East und West Alps its peaks clearly dominate the region to the west (Piz d'Err, Piz Roseg). On the perimeter, however, there are also less high, often less rugged mountain chains, like the Gurktal Alps and the eastern foothills.

The Eastern Alps is separated from the Western Alps by a line from Lake Constance to Lake Como along the Rhine Valley and via the Splügen Pass.

Geology[edit]

Geological makeup of the Alps: The Central Alps are formed from the crystalline East Alpine 
and several windows, regional nappes and islands   

The Central Alps consist mainly of the gneiss and slate rocks of the various Austroalpine nappes (Lower and Upper Austroalpine), with the exception of the Hohe Tauern and Engadine windows, where they are composed mostly of Jurassic rock and limestones and, locally, (Bergell and Rieserferner) also of granite. The Austroalpine nappes are thrusted over the Penninic nappe stack. Massifs of autochthonous, crystalline rock, which hardly moved at all during Alpine folding, do not occur in the Central Alps – unlike the case in the Western Alps. The aforementioned granite intruded near the fracture zone of the Periadriatic Seam. The Western Alps do not have this division into the Northern Limestone Alps, Central Alps and Southern Limestone Alps.

The Austroalpine submerges itself at the eastern edge of the Alps under the Tertiary sediments of the Alpine Foreland in the east and the Pannonian Basin. This fracture zone exhibits active volcanism (e.g. in the Styrian thermal region).

Alpine Club classification[edit]

AVE-
No.
Name Map Country Highest mountain Height (m) Image
25 Rätikon Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Liechtenstein Liechtenstein
Schesaplana 2,964 Schesaplana (2,964 m)
26 Silvretta Alps Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Flag of Austria Austria
Piz Linard 3,411 Piz Linard (3,411 m)
27 Samnaun Alps Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Muttler 3,294 Muttler (3,294 m)
28 Verwall Alps Flag of Austria Austria Hoher Riffler 3,168 Hoher Riffler (3,168 m)
29 Sesvenna Alps Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of Austria Austria
Piz Sesvenna 3,204 Piz Sesvenna (3,204 m)
30 Ötztal Alps Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Italy Italy
Wildspitze 3,768 Wildspitze (3,768 m)
31 Stubai Alps Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Italy Italy
Zuckerhütl 3,507 Zuckerhütl (3,507 m)
32 Sarntal Alps Flag of Italy Italy Hirzer 2,781 Hirzer (2,781 m, links)
33 Tux Alps Flag of Austria Austria Lizumer Reckner 2,884 Lizumer Reckner (2,884 m)
34 Kitzbühel Alps(1) Flag of Austria Austria Kreuzjoch 2,558 Kreuzjoch (2,558 m)
35 Zillertal Alps Flag of Austria Austria Hochfeiler 3,510 Hochfeiler (3,510 m)
36 Venediger Group Flag of Austria Austria Großvenediger 3,666 Großvenediger (3,666 m)
37 Rieserferner Group Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of Austria Austria
Hochgall 3,436 Hochgall (3,436 m)
38 Villgraten Mountains Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Italy Italy
Weiße Spitze 2,962 Weiße Spitze (2,962 m, links)
39 Granatspitze Group Flag of Austria Austria Großer Muntanitz 3,232 Großer Muntanitz (3,232 m)
40 Glockner Group Flag of Austria Austria Großglockner 3,798 Großglockner (3,798 m)
41 Schober Group Flag of Austria Austria Petzeck 3,283 Petzeck (3,283 m)
42 Goldberg Group Flag of Austria Austria Hocharn 3,254 Hocharn (3,254 m)
43 Kreuzeck Group Flag of Austria Austria Mölltaler Polinik 2,784 Mölltaler Polinik (2,784 m)
44 Ankogel Group Flag of Austria Austria Hochalmspitze 3,360 Hochalmspitze (3,360 m)
45a Radstadt Tauern Flag of Austria Austria Weißeck 2,711 Weißeck (2,711 m)
45b Schladming Tauern Flag of Austria Austria Hochgolling 2,862 Hochgolling (2,862 m)
45c Rottenmann and Wölz Tauern Flag of Austria Austria Rettlkirchspitze 2,475 Rettlkirchspitze (2,475 m)
45d Seckau Tauern Flag of Austria Austria Geierhaupt 2,417 Geierhaupt (2,417 m)
46a Gurktal Alps Flag of Austria Austria Eisenhut 2,441 Schwarzsee with Eisenhut (2,441 m) in the background
46b Lavanttal Alps Flag of Austria Austria
Flag of Slovenia Slovenia
Zirbitzkogel 2,396 Zirbitzkogel (2,396 m)
47 Prealps East of the Mur Flag of Austria Austria Stuhleck 1,782 Summit cross on the Stuhleck (1,782 m)
  1. (1) The Kitzbühel Alps and the adjacent Salzburg Slate Alps as part of the Greywacke zone are either counted as part of the Northern Limestone Alps or the Central Alps – geologically they form the bedrock of the Limestone Alps, and the slip zone, on which the latter were thrust northwards


The Central Eastern Alps also comprise the following ranges of the West Eastern Alps according to AVE classification, which geologically belong to the Southern Alps and are also subsumed under the Western Limestone Alps division.:

AVE-
No.
Name Map Country Highest mountain Height (m) Image
63 Plessur Alps Flag of Switzerland Switzerland Aroser Rothorn 2,980 Aroser Rothorn (2,980 m)
64 Oberhalbstein Alps Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Flag of Italy Italy
Piz Platta 3,392 Piz Platta (3,392 m)
65 Albula Alps Flag of Switzerland Switzerland Piz Kesch 3,418 Piz Kesch (3,418 m)
66 Bernina Group Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Piz Bernina 4,049 Piz Bernina (4,049 m)
67 Livigno Alps Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Cima de’ Piazzi 3,439 Cima de’ Piazzi (3,439 m)
68 Bergamo Alps(2) Flag of Italy Italy Pizzo di Coca 3,052 Pizzo di Coca (3,052 m)
  1. (2) The Bergamasque Alps are – geologically and petrologically – part of the Southern Limestone Alps, and thus the Southern Alps


The Ortler Alps as well as the Sobretta-Gavia Group are also sometimes classified with the Central Alps, because they lie north of the geological fault of the Periadriatic Seam; in a general regional geographic sense, however, they are seen as part of the Southern Limestone Alps, because they are found south of the longitudinal trough Veltlin (Adda)–Vintschgau (Etsch).[3] Also in terms of rock, the Ortler main crest is part of the Southern Limestone Alps.

See also[edit]

Footnotes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Not to be confused with the other meaning of Central Alps i.e. the Swiss Alps.
  2. ^ Link to Alps in: Austria-Forum, the Austrian knowledge network – online  (at AEIOU)
  3. ^ Peter Holl: Alpenvereinsführer Ortleralpen