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Swabian Alb Geopark


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Between the Swiss and the Franconian Jura, the Swabian Jura (Alb) is the central part of a Jura chain stretching right through central Europe. Bordered by the Black Forest and the Baar region in the south-west, the upper Neckar valley to the north, the Ries crater to the east and the Danube to the south, the Swabian Alb stretches right across South-West Germany over a length of approx. 220 km and at a width of up to 80 km. 

Geological and Archeological Heritage
Not only because of the two craters of meteorites and the “Swabian Vulcany” with more than 350 chimneys the Swabian Alb has an outstanding significance. It offers globally significant geological, paleontological and archeological features like the fossil sites of Holzmaden, Dotternhausen and Nusplingen or the type localities for the Aalenium and the Pliensbachium which were named after places of the Swabian Alb. The oldest sculptures of art and one of the oldest musical instruments of mankind originate from the Swabian Alb.

The carstic landscape offers a large variety of different geotopes for example dolines, fossile reef rocks, carstic springs (for instance the impressive chalk well “Blautopf” with an output of 290 l/sec up to 25,750 l/sec.), carstic caves (highest density of caves in Germany) and rare geological phenomenae like the “Böttinger Marble”, a thermic limestone travertine. “Water´s struggle on the Swabian Alb” is a fascinating one: here you find the European wathershed, the line between the water that flows into the Rhine and the water that flows into the Danube.
Geology plays an outstandig role for landscape and landuse in history and today. People of the stone age came to search for flintstones and to use the caves as shelters. Celtic people used the carstic iron brass (one of the oldest smelting places known in Europe). The German word “Alb” comes from the Celtic word alpis, which means a nurturing mountain. Nobelmen of the middle age used the fossile reef rocks for building their castles. Still today the pattern of human settlements show the characteristics of the petrography as some rocks retain water like the basaltic fillings of the vulcanic chimneys. Due to a geothermic anomaly, the first german geothermic power station opened in Bad Urach in 2004. Until today quarriying of stone is an important branch of industry.

Geotourism
Due to its rich heritage the Swabian Alb is a traditional geotouristic destination with a high densitiy of different attractions like 15 showcaves, several museums, interpretive trails, sites to “fosseecking” etc. Guided landscape adventure tours by trained rangers are offered in different parts of the Alb. The Geopark is organisationally incorporated into the Tourist Board Swabian Alb. It is a co-operation platform for different institutions such as ministries, universities, associations and authorities, involved in geosciences, tourism and nature conservation. Their aim is to develop the geopark as a strong contributor for the sustainable development of the Swabian Alb.

Contact
Geopark Swabian Alb
Altes Lager R13,
72525 Munsingen,
GERMANY
Phone: +49 7381 5015 75
Email: Elmar P.J. Heizmann heizmann.smns@naturkundemuseum-bw.de
Walburg Speidel info@geopark-alb.de
http://www.geopark-alb.de