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The Alps, Europe

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Location map of the (European) Alps

The Alps, Europe
Locality type:Mountain Range


The Alps (Alpes in French, Alpen in German, Alpi in Italian, Alpe in Slovene) are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres across eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres.

The Alps are a double-vergent orogen that formed as a result of the convergence between the European and African (Adria, also termed Apulia) continental margins. This collisional orogen was generated by the Cretaceous to present convergence of the Adria continental upper plate and a subducting lower plate including the Mesozoic ocean and the European passive continental margin. Complete closure (Eocene) of the ocean marked the onset of the Adria-Europe collision. The collisional zone is represented by the Austroalpine-Penninic wedge, a fossil subduction complex, showing that even coherent fragments of light continental crust may be deeply subducted in spite of their natural buoyancy.

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