Alps Mountain continue to Grow

The Alps mountain range is located across eight Alpine countries: France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. The mountain range stretches over an area of about 1,200 km across these 8 Alpine countries.

Key Points

  • The Alps mountain range is said to be formed tens of millions of years through the collision of Eurasian and African tectonic plates.
  • The highest mountain in the Alps is ‘Mount Blanc’ which has a height of 4,809 m.
  • Alps are also source of many minerals like iron, copper and crystals like quartz, cinnabar, and amethyst.
  • The mountain range is also a tourist attraction and sees around 120 million tourists per year.

Study on Alps

  • As per a recent study, a part of the mountain range is growing upward faster than it is eroding.
  • For the recent study, the researchers analyzed different isotopes in the sand from hundreds of rivers in the European Alps.
  • The ‘Beryllium-10 (10Be)’ isotope finally helped them to reveal information about the erosion rates in different parts of the Alps.
  • The isotope 10Be is formed when cosmic rays hit the ground (in Alps); they start a nuclear reaction in the oxygen atoms in quartz, which forms 10Be.
  • As this isotope accumulates only on Earth’s uppermost surface, the age of a surface can be determined by Scientists by measuring the levels of 10Be in sediment of a few millennia.
  • The quartz grains with high 10Be concentration were supposed to be exposed to cosmic rays for a greater period of time. The samples with low 10Be concentration are younger.
  • This principle can be used to determine rate of erosion in Alps.

Growing Alps

Alps are not growing uniformly; in some parts they are shrinking like in Southern Switzerland. The central Alps are growing rapidly, around 80 cm per millennium. Erosion in the western Alps is in uniformity with upliftment while in eastern Alps, the erosion is greater as compared to uplift. In the earlier studies, it was concluded that the mountains in the Alps range were neither growing nor shrinking.