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Valle della Fornace – Furnace Valley

Italia, Regione Lombardia, provincia di Varese, Varese

Positioning

Cartabbia

COORDINATES
(CH 1903) E   707145 N   73102 H   265.0
(WGS 84) Long.   8.817 Lat.   45.801
GENERAL EVALUATION
DIFFICULTY EE-T4/T5
SCIENTIFIC INTEREST PRIMARY:
Stratigraphie, Structural geology

SECONDARY:
Sedimentology, Paleontology
OTHER INTERESTS
Didactic
GEOSITE   GEOLOGICAL - stratigraphy

DESCRIPTION

About five million years ago, the Lombardy region experienced the last major advance of the sea which, helped by a warmer climate than that at present, filled the preexisting fjords and rose up to Varese and Mendrisio. Then the sea slowly withdrew again, leaving the present physiognomy, with much more limited variations. The rare traces of this last marine advance can be seen in Valle della Fornace, where there are sediments which contain fossil remains of animals and tropical plants belonging to the Pliocene Epoch. The climate then quickly became much colder, initiating what is known as the “glacial advances”. The traces of the first glacial pulsations are even more rare, but are observable by penetrating deeper into the Valle della Fornace, which contains the remains of a proglacial lake and of streams which furrowed the Varese area millions of years ago.

INSIGHT

In Valle della Fornace, a small valley situated to the east of Lake Varese, important evidence of the environment and palaeogeography of the Pliocene Epoch has been preserved. In fact, marine deposits from the early Pleistocene were truncated by a glacial advance, which can be considered as the first glaciation affecting the Lombardy region. This event is particularly important as, from the interpretations so far proposed, it took place before the Pleistocene geological period to which the glacial advances are traditionally ascribed. The sequence consists of marine or marginal marine formations, such as the Clays of Castel di Sotto and the Formation of Valle della Fornace (see the cited literature for detailed descriptions of the geological units), both rich in macro-remains (flora and fauna) typically belonging to the Lower Pliocene. These deposits were then broken off by a glacial advance (the Formation of Vivirolo and the Formation of Boderi) of the Upper Pliocene, as evidenced by a proglacial lake which subsequently gave way to a flat fluvioglacial plain of the braided type. The entire sequence is affected by deformations such as folding, faulting and liquefaction.

CURIOSITIES

A few kilometres away lies Lake Varese. A cycling trail of more than 27 kilometres circles the lake. To the south there is the Riserva Naturale Palude Brabbia (Brabbia Marsh Nature Reserve), which gives shelter to some 170 species of birds, some of them quite rare.
scala temporale periodi geologici

HOW TO REACH THE SITE

Access to Valle della Fornace is located in Via dei Boderi in Varese, between the town and its homonymous lake. From the motorway, take the A8 to Varese, then follow the signs for Capolago and Cartabbia. It is recommended that you park your car at the cemetery in Via Torquato Tasso, then continue on foot in Via dei Boderi.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR THE VISIT

After about 400 metres, the road crosses a stream. Continue upstream to enter Valle della Fornace. It is advisable to wear boots.

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Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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