Alps, Minerals

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The Alps are one of the great mountain range systems of Europe stretching approximately across eight Alpine countries from Austria and Slovenia in the east, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and south east Germany, to the west. Monaco and Italy to the south. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher


The Alps are a source of a minerals that have been mined for thousands of years. In the 8th to 6th centuries BC during the Hallstatt culture, Celtic tribes mined copper; later the Romans mined gold for coins in the Bad Gastein area. Erzberg in Styria furnishes high-quality iron ore for the steel industry. Crystals are found throughout much of the Alpine region such as cinnabar, amethyst, and quartz. The cinnabar deposits in Slovenia are a notable source of cinnabar pigments.

Alpine crystals have been studied and collected for hundreds of years, and began to be classified in the 18th century. Leonhard Euler studied the shapes of crystals, and by the 19th century crystal hunting was common in Alpine regions. David Friedrich Wiser amassed a collection of 8000 crystals that he studied and documented. In the 20th century Robert Parker wrote a well-known work about the rock crystals of the Swiss Alps; at the same period a commission was established to control and standardize the naming of Alpine minerals.

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