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Development of the Nockberge
Titanic forces, Tethys primal sea and the birth of the Gurktal Alps
When taking a look at the development of the Alps, of which the Nockberge are a part, you can’t neglect Greek mythology. The Tethys primal sea was located where the gentle knolls of the Nockberge now rise. The sea owes its name to the aquatic sea goddess and wife of the mighty Okeanos. This sea had to give way to the Alps arising as a result of truly titanic forces. Around 60 to 30 million years ago, the African tectonic plate began to move northwards – about as quickly as a fingernail grows. The Scandinavian plate countered. There was only one way for the material squeezed between these mighty plates to go – upwards. During this process, Tethys shrunk to the size of today’s Mediterranean Sea and the Nockberge soared to a height of slightly above 2,400 m.
The Nocky Mountains – karstic beauty with green knolls
The spring pit cirques and karsts of the Nockberge conceals a geological rarity. Water seeps away deep in the mountains in a north-south limestone embedment that is up to three kilometres wide. There it is heated up by ground heat and resurfaces in Bad Kleinkirchheim as 36 °C warm thermal water. The lovely exterior of the Nockberge is juxtaposed against the craggy karst in its interior. Even the term “Nock’n” evokes associations with something round, accommodating, maybe even the Salzburger Nockerln or the famous Kärntner Kasnockn. “Nock” is a region-specific term for “knoll” – and the “Nocky Mountains” are a designation chosen with a little nod to the Rocky Mountains in North American.
The Nockberge: part of the mighty Alpine crest in Europe
The Nockberge are the westernmost and highest part of the Gurktal Alps. The Biosphere Reserve Nockberge, which became a UNESCO heritage site in 2012, is the centrepiece of the mountain range, which stretches across the Austrian provinces Carinthia, Salzburg and Styria. In the north, the Nockberge reach up to the Katschberg and in the south to the river Mur and the Low Tauen. The Lieser and Drau are the border rivers in the west, while in the east they end at the Gurk-Flattnitzer Höhe-Paalbach. The summits of the Nockberge don’t reach any dizzying heights and the Alps show their gentle side here. Simply perfect for hiking, enjoying or driving on the scenically unique Nockalm Road!