Dent De Morcles
November 21, 2001
Provided by: GLOBE at Night
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster
Parts of many of the world's mountain belts contain twisted outcrops of rocks that display beautiful patterns of folding and other geologic distortions. Making sense of these formations has been a challenge to geologists for more than 100 years. The photo above shows an example of the complex processes that often take place during mountain building. It was taken in the Pennine Alps of southwestern Switzerland and shows a portion of a geological formation known as the Dent de Morcles. The Morcles is a classic alpine nappe structure. A nappe is a large plate of rocks moved from its place of origin by faulting or folding - in this case folding is the mechanism. The rocks (mostly limestone) in the recumbent folds of the Dent de Morcles have been turned nearly up side down. These rocks date from the Mesozoic Era (65-245 million years ago).