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Geology of the Swabian Alb

The Swabian Alb runs right across the south of Germany from the Hochrhein in the southwest to the Nördlinger Ries in the northeast. Where you now see mountains up to 1000 m in height forming the central part of the Jura mountain range stretching from Switzerland to Franconia, there used to be a tropical sea in primeval times. This sea ebbed and flowed and had coral reefs, extensive beaches, palm ferns and gingko trees. This is the beginning of the exciting story of the Swabian Alb which takes us back to the end of the Keuper period 200 million years ago.

The deposits of Lower (earlier Black), Middle (earlier Brown) and Upper (earlier White) Jurassic (200 – 140 million years ago) date back to the period when the Alb region was still covered with seawater and it is these deposits which have mainly contributed to the formation of the Swabian Alb. The Alb has Geopark Swabian Alb - experience the Earth‘s history live been a land mass since the end of the Jurassic.

Its history continues to be turbulent however: erosion during the Cretaceous (140 - 65 million years ago), volcanic eruptions and the impact of a meteorite during the Tertiary (65 – 2.6 million years ago) have all contributed to the forming of the landscape. After that, the rain and groundwater eroded the limestone of the Jura. It dissolved the limestone and so created the region with the most caves in Germany. Some caves on the Alb were inhabited during the Ice Age and the oldest known artworks created by humans − dating back almost 40,000 years − have been found here in recent years.

But every period of the last 200 million years has its own stories to tell so we had best start at the beginning. We‘ll start with the Keuper period…