©Stefan Leitner – Nationalpark Gesaeuse
The Nature Park Eisenwurzen is located in the Austrian province of Styria. Geologically, it is part of the Northern Calcareous Alps. Its rocks, consisting primarily of limestones and dolomites, were deposited over a time interval of 250 million years, from Late Permian to Present. They were faulted, folded and uplifted during Alpine orogeny. Glaciers of the Great Ice Age and rivers provided the final touches in modelling the unique landscape out of the rocks. Geologically especially important sites include the type section of the Anisian stage of the Triassic and the Cretaceous/Palaeogene rocks of the Gams area.
Geotourism dates back as early as 1892. In that year, the Kraus Cave of Gams, one of the major gypsum-bearing caves of Europe and the first one in the world with electric light, was opened to the public. The GeoCentre of Gams houses a permanent exhibition on the geology and mining history of the closer surroundings. Together with the GeoTrail it provides an in-situ documentation of rocks, fossils, tectonic structures, water erosion and human interference with geological processes. GeoBike, a demanding geological bicycle trail, connects sites which are further apart, among them rare visible evidence of the events at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. The GeoWorkshop serves all activities related to the preparation of geological items. Fossils found during guided field trips may be prepared under supervision and then investigated under the microscope. Even ordinary pebbles from the close-by stream provide unique souvenirs when they are cut and polished.
The geological influence of water on the landscape is a central subject of the Park. The 2nd Viennese water supply line has its origin in the karstified mountains of the region. Besides the museum at Wildalpen, a visit to one of its major springs is an unforgettable experience. The Wasserloch Gorge, which originates from a subterranean lake, provides deep insight into the geological activities of water. In a playful way, this most powerful of all geological agents may be explored in the Water Park of St. Gallen. GeoRafting, which has been offered to visitors since 2003, combines fun and adventure with scientific instruction by specially trained guides.
The Great Ice Age and its influence on the landscape, life in the Triassic sea - the largest known marine reptile of Austria was found in the area - karstic phenomena and caves make for challenging geology which is being experienced by a steadily growing number of visitors.
Natur-und Geopark Steirische Eisenwurzen