GEO FACTS

Science

The first scientific evidence in the surroundings of the Bletterbach gorge dates back to 1891, reports about geological funds from the Bletterbach, however, were first compiled some decades later. Only since the 1930s, Leo Perwanger, an engineer from Redagno-Radein, provided a description of the Weißhorn’s geological structure, of carbonized plant remains and of petrified marine animals found in the gorge. In 1948 scientist Piero Leonardi run into the first footprints in the gorge and issued a series of scientific publications and papers. In the 1970s, Leonardi worked extensively in the Bletterbach gorge together with scientists and students of Ferrara, Rome, Padova and Cagliari University. He organized the very first expeditions and started a systemic research work. The Viennese scientist Wilhelm Klaus documented fossil pollen for the first time in the early 1960s. Since 1973, researchers of Utrecht University have been working on plants fossils. For all these years, Josef Perwanger supported the research work, and gave his name to two footprints of the Bletterbach gorge he had discovered himself.

The fact that many fossils are found in a confined space, the gorge’s good accessibility and clear recognition of different petrified stratification make this UNESCO World Heritage site to a classic example for science. To date, scientists are engaged in analyses of the Bletterbach gorge’s geology – in close collaboration with the Museum of Nature South Tyrol in Bolzano-Bozen, the MUSE Science Museum of Trento and the LMU University Munich. Over the past years, many results have been achieved: the discovery of hundreds of plant fossils and scientific analyses thereof, the recovery of a marine saurian’s bone and activities like the observation of erosion, rock shifts and displacements taking place within the streambed.