14. Mountains risen from the sea. Today’s rock sculpture
From 3 million years ago to the present day – the Quaternary era
Human beings appeared on the earth, the distribution of dry land is more or less as it is today and the Dolomites are now a pure mountain environment, subject to modelling by various processes and phenomena. The inexorable march of time will lead ultimately to their being worn away.
The Quaternary era, running from about three million years ago until the present day, is that period of time in which human beings first appeared on this planet and it has witnessed their development. The collision between Africa and Europe that enabled the Alpine chain to rise up, was also responsible for their deformation and fracture, and of course their exposure to erosion. The sculpting of the rock surfaces that began in the Tertiary era, was further refined by the action of water, gravity and ice acting like tireless, inspired sculptors who have fashioned the inimitable, kaleidoscopic dolomitic landscape. The Quaternary period has witnessed repeated drastic climate shifts, with the Dolomites frequently being covered in thick blankets of ice extending as far as the Veneto plains. The processes of the last glaciation, 24,000-10,000 years ago, and the subsequent warming phase, 10,000 years ago until the present day, have left obvious traces with a strong influence on the landscape of today.
Text by Dolomiti Project