The Tectonic Arena Sardona offers unique insights into the history of origin of alpine mountains and valleys. Along the line visible from afar, the Glarus Thrust, also known as the “magic line”, 250-300 million year old rocks were pushed onto much younger, in part “only” 35-50 million year old rocks. This happened 10-20 million years ago far below the former surface of the earth!
The area is of great value for schools and research, as it bears witness to processes of mountain building and plate tectonics. For more than two centuries, scientists from all over the world have been investigating the processes of mountain building. Thus they reveal the secrets of the formation of mountains in the Sardona World Heritage Site.
Champions League of natural values
The Tectonic Arena Sardona is one of only 200 UNESCO World Heritage sites and, from a geological perspective, one of the most exciting ones. The world’s highest award for a natural resource puts the Tectonic Arena Sardona in the same league as the Grand Canyon (USA), the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) or the Great Barrier Reef (Australia).
Unique in the world
The Sardona World Heritage Region is unique in the world: nowhere else are the results of the processes that led to the formation of mountains as evident as they are here.
Young on top of old – how is that possible?
During the formation of the Alps, huge masses of rock from very different eras were pushed on top of each other. This enabled older rocks to be deposited on younger ones. This upside-down stack of rocks could not be explained for many years.
The Glarus Thrust is easily accessible and one of the most fascinating natural phenomena in the world. The “magic line” as well as the 3-D shape in the terrain can be identified immediately.
Epic conflict of the scientists
Researchers have to dispute! The research results in the Tectonic Arena Sardona, which already have a 200 year history, have revolutionized – and continue to revolutionize – the notions of how the Alps were created.
Pilgrimage site for scientists
Scientists from all over the world still travel to the World Heritage region today to study features that indicate mountain-building processes on site, as they are particularly visible here.
The Sardona World Heritage Region has an enormous variety of rocks, structures, terrain and landscapes. This forms the basis for biodiversity.
Ideal habitat for plants and animals
The mountain landscape offers great conditions for numerous animals and plants, as it is still in a very pristine state. In 1911, the first of the then extinct ibexes were reintroduced to Switzerland here. The diverse landscapes of the Sardona World Heritage also provided ideal conditions for the first reintroduction into the wild of the proud Bearded Vultures in the Northern Alps.
Better to doubt than to err
«No one would believe me, they would think I was a fool.» The Swiss geologist Arnold Escher von der Linth investigations about the formation of the mountain landscapes.
Part of the short film series «World Heritage in Switzerland» about the admission of the Tectonic Arena Sardona as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With Anni Brühwiler, visitor receptionist and tour guide, and Heinz Brühwiler, South Glarus district forester.