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«Pirineos-Monte Perdido»

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This will cross-reference all available documents in our data base related to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Karst landform

Numerous mountainous forms were created by the action of ice of glacial origin. Water has also played its part by shaping the limestone rock of the Monte Perdido massif, giving rise to the many characteristic karst landscapes.

When water comes into contact with rock of a calcareous nature, a chemical reaction occurs and the mineral dissolves, the effect of which can be seen in the vast bare surfaces with numerous cracks and fissures.

Water from rain and thawing snow dissolves the surface of the rock, generating the typical runnels, fissures and striations known as karren. There are numerous examples of this, as can be seen in the area around Góriz, the Brecha de Roland gap, Plano Tripals, Mondoto, Sestrales, Castillo Mayor, Tres Marías, the Sierra de las Cutas and elsewhere.

Karstic processes on the surface can also give rise to dolines, closed, rounded depressions similar in shape to a large funnel. On occasions they can be trapped by gullies, as occurs in Millares, Salarons or Descargador. Surface water filters down through the bottom of most dolines into a complex and extensive system of underground caves and galleries, as can be seen in Gurrundué Cirque, Millaris and Salarons and at the Frozen Lake on Monte Perdido, the waters of which feed the Gavarnie Falls.

These subterranean rivers eventually emerge at the surface through springs and seeps, as at Fuen Blanca, the Yaga Springs and Santa Elena.
Ice caves, that is caves with permanent deposits of ice inside, such as the Frozen Grotto of Casteret or the frozen caves of Marboré, deserve special mention due to their remarkable and fragile nature and because they are of great interest to science.

Another of the key features of the geological landscape of the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site is the spectacular network of fluviokarst gullies and canyons, in particular Añisclo and Escuaín. These tremendous relief formations came into being as a result of the combined action of the dissolving of limestone by water and the collapse of underground structures.