C. Weber1,* , P. Daldos1, E. Kustatscher2 and H. Nowak2

1GEOPARC Bletterbach, Aldein/Aldino, Italy

2Museum of Nature South Tyrol, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy


The Bletterbach Gorge is a valley at the western flank of the Weißhorn/Corno Bianco, a mountain in South Tyrol (Northern Italy) that is part of the Dolomites. It is famous for both its scientific and touristic value and a key part of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site. The geology and palaeontology of the gorge are presented in a visitor centre in the small town of Aldein/Aldino north of the gorge and in the GEOMuseum in the village Radein/Redagno to the South.

The lower part of the gorge is a narrow canyon through the porphyric rocks of the early Permian Athesian Volcanic Group. The volcanics are overlain by the late Permian Gröden/Val Gardena Formation, which consists predominantly of fluvial sandstones and has a thickness of about 200 m. The Gröden/Val Gardena Formation has yielded numerous and diverse tetrapod footprints and plant fossils. It also contains a prominent marine incursion represented by the so-called “Cephalopod bank”, which forms the top of a waterfall.

Near the head of the valley, the Gröden/Val Gardena Formation transitions into the marginal to shallow-marine Bellerophon Formation, in which macrofossils are rare. Above follows the latest Permian to Early Triassic Werfen Formation. The oolitic Tesero Member at its base represents the time of the end-Permian mass extinction. The Werfen Formation mostly contains impoverished bivalve assemblages. Near the summit, the Werfen Formation is overlain by the Anisian (Middle Triassic) Richthofen Conglomerate and subsequently the Contrin Formation. The latter is a pure white dolomite containing imprints of dasycladalean algae.

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