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Geomorphology

Light-colored rocks are clearly visible along the steeper sections of the park’s imposing mountainsides, where the dense forest cover is occasionally interrupted by rocky outcrops, and upon closer inspection they reveal the granular structure that is typical of sandstone. These striking landscapes alternate with charming saddles, some of which are cultivated, and barren badlands, landforms that indicate the presence of soft rocks, such as clays or marls. These sedimentary rocks are part of a stratigraphic succession that outcrops extensively along the hills and middle mountains of the Emilian Apennines. These rocks were formed in the Middle Eocene (about 40 million years ago) in deep sea basins located above the embryonic Apennine fold, over a sheet of older, already deformed rocks, known as the Ligurian Units (or Ligurids) because they originated in the ancient Ligurian-Piedmont Ocean, whose closure resulted in the rising of the Apennines. The combined orogenic and sedimentation processes continued over many millions of years: under the thrust of the intense orogenic compressional forces, the Ligurian sheet and the sediment of the overlying basins translated tens of kilometers, moving in a southwest to northeast direction. As a consequence of this shift, the basins situated above the sheet changed in depth and size. The initially deeper basins saw the sedimentation of clays associated with turbidite sands. Afterwards, with the continuous uplifts of the seamount range, the depth of the basins diminished and shallow sea sand sediments were deposited. The stratigraphic succession is subdivided on the basis of lithological and structural differences into various geological formations, known as Epiligurid formations (that overlie the Ligurian Units) and they are all represented, in more or less extended fragments, within the park.