At the letter A in Aminona, meet the young geologist Julien Berthod. He explains how the Alps were formed, and talks about their geological particularities.
Julien Berthod was born in Geneva in 1981, but grew up in Africa, in Mali, then in Sierre, his hometown since 1985. His geology studies took him to Bern, then Neuchâtel and Grenoble. After finishing his work experience in the canton of Vaud, he joined his father Charly’s geology business in Sierre, taking over from him in 2015.
Passionate about sport, music and geology, he has frequently found himself roaming far flung nooks and crannies in the Crans-Montana region, both for work and pleasure.
Geology is like an open book…every stone, every mountain has its own story to tell. The Earth was created some 4.5 billion years ago, and we - mankind - only appeared around 5 million years ago. In other words, we are nothing in relation to the history of the Earth. Looking at time in this way forces us to have the greatest respect for Nature, both plant and mineral.
So the landscape in Crans-Montana today was not formed that long ago, from a geological point of view. The most «recent» event that shaped the landscape as we see it today is the Alpine orogeny, the formation of the Alps, which began around 30 million years ago, and continues today. The Alps were formed by plate tectonics, notably the collision between the Eurasian and African plates, when the African plate moved on top of the Eurasian plate.
So the high mountains in the Val d’Anniviers, the five 4,000m peaks that we can see opposite Aminona (the Weisshorn, Zinal Rothorn, Obergabelhorn, the Matterhorn and the Dent-Blanche) are originally «African». The Alpine chain continued to push up whilst also eroding, then finally the successive glacial episodes finished shaping the current landscape, forming plateaus such as Crans-Montana’s, and valleys like the Rhone Valley, and its side valleys.
Geologically, Crans-Montana is built on a plateau composed of Upper and Aalenian Lias limestone and schist, with layers inclined towards the Rhone Valley, and which form the roots of the Helvetic nappes. In places, rocks are covered with moraine from the last glaciation, and rock masses, which slipped or collapsed during the melting of the great Alpine glaciers over the past 20,000 years.
The Aminona region offers breathtaking views over the imperial crown of 4000m+ mountains.
Sylvie Doriot Galofaro, Samuel Bonvin and Martial Kamerzin will tell you more about the 125 years project and the history of the resort.