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Migmatites of Lavertezzo

In the heart of the Alps

Svizzera, Cantone Ticino, LAVERTEZZO

Positioning

Lavertezzo

COORDINATES
(CH 1903) E   707780 N   124100 H   530.0
(WGS 84) Long.   8.837 Lat.   46.260
GENERAL EVALUATION
DIFFICULTY T-T1
SCIENTIFIC INTEREST PRIMARY:
Hydromorphologie, Mineralogy / petrology

SECONDARY:
OTHER INTERESTS Landscape
Architectural
GEOSITE   MINERALOGICAL/PETROGRAPHIC scientific/cultural importance

DESCRIPTION

The erosion caused by the Verzasca River has exposed very special metamorphic rocks along its bed which surface immediately downstream from the Salti Bridge. In places, some of these, consistent and clear, are crossed by long streaks of several centimetres in thickness, while others are characterized by a succession of many fine whitish, reddish and blackish bands. The convulsive curvatures drawn on the rocky surface of the series of undulations and folds show how turbulent the geological past was in the heart of the Alps.

INSIGHT

The rock units which appear in this area of Val Verzasca pertain to the Shroud of Simano (la Coltre del Simano). This area, like most of north-central Ticino, makes up part of the group of strata belonging to the Alpine domain which are found at greater depths during the Alpine orogenesis and therefore have undergone the most extreme deformation: the lower Penninic thrustfront. The continental collision between Africa and Europe upset the existing granite rocks, dragging them into the bowels of the earth. At a depth of 30 kilometres, with pressures of around 1.2 GPa (12,000 times greater than the atmospheric pressure at sea level) and with temperatures near 800° C, the rocks were metamorphosed (ultrametamorphism) and partially merged, causing the remixing of the minerals. The following slow cooling led to a selective solidification of various minerals in such a way as to form aggregates of elements with similar chemical characteristics which are visible today in the designs of the migmatite and gneiss bands of Lavertezzo.

CURIOSITIES

Erroneously called the Roman Bridge, the Salti Bridge dates from the seventeenth century. With its unique double arch architecture, the bridge allows one to cross the gorge through which run the clear waters of the Verzasca River. This magnificent interweaving of works of art makes Lavertezzo one of the main tourist destinations of Italian Switzerland.
scala temporale periodi geologici

HOW TO REACH THE SITE

From the Bellinzona Sud exit (number 47) of the A2 motorway, proceed in the direction of Locarno for about 10 kilometres to the roundabout near the cantonal airport of Locarno. From there follow the signs for Gordola and Valle Verzasca. From Gordola go up the valley for 10 kilometres to Lavertezzo. Please park in the areas especially provided for tourists.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR THE VISIT

Approaching the site does not require any special preparation, as it is located only a few metres from the car park.

TO LEARN MORE

COTTI et al. (1990): Introduzione al paesaggio naturale del Cantone Ticino.Vol. 1, Le componenti naturali, Bellinzona, 484 pp.
DECUYPER H. & ANTOGNINI M. (2008): Magie di pietra. Locarno. Armando Dadò.

project | contacts | links | partners
Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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