Archive - Lake Misurina in the Dolomite Alps

July 17, 2021

6a0105371bb32c970b022ad3c42f91200dEvery weekend we present a notable item from our archives. This Earth Science Picture of the Day was originally published on March 21, 2019.

Photographer: Sarah Connery
Summary Authors: Sarah Connery; Ray Boren

Beautiful Lake Misurina (Lago di Misurina), pictured here, is nestled among northeastern Italy’s Dolomite Alps. Also known simply as the Dolomites, the mountain range is composed primarily of pale white-to-gray carbonate minerals, including limestone and the mineral dolomite, also called dolostone. Acclaimed for their beauty and geologic diversity, the peaks, valleys and lakes of the Dolomites have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At 5,755 ft (1,754 m) above sea level, Lake Misurina is the largest in Italy’s Cadore region. Fringed by hotels — including the Grand Hotel Misurina, as seen in this photograph, taken on September 18, 2018. Lake Misurina was the site of speed skating events held during the 1956 Winter Olympics — the last time Olympic skating events were held on natural ice.

The mountains and the mineral dolomite circuitously derive their name from a French naturalist and his home village. During a 1789 visit to the Alps, Diedonnè-Silvain-Guy-Tancrede de Gvalet de Dolomieu was fascinated by the pale, limestone-like rock, and published a scientific letter about it in 1791. Other naturalists and scientists followed, delving into the rock’s peculiar carbonate structure — which, they determined, had formed in shallow lagoons and tidal flats upon which fossils, bacterial mats and dolomite marls were deposited in thick sedimentary layers some 200 million years ago in the Tethys Sea, or Tethys Ocean. That rock was subsequently raised to alpine heights by the collisions of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D810; Software: Adobe Photoshop CC (Windows); Exposure Time: 0.0040s (1/250); Aperture: ƒ/9.0; ISO equivalent: 200; Focal Length (35mm): 62.

View Larger Map