The Southern Carpathians (also known as the Transylvanian Alps; Romanian: Carpații Meridionali [karˈpat͡siː meridioˈnalʲ] are a group of mountain ranges located in southern Romania. They cover the part of the Carpathian Mountains located between the Prahova River in the east and the Timiș and Cerna Rivers in the west. To the south they are bounded by the Balkan mountain range.
|Romanian: Carpații Meridionali|
Negoiu Peak (2535m)
|Elevation||2,544 m (8,346 ft)|
|Age of rock||Mostly Triassic|
The Southern Carpathian are the second highest group of mountains in the Carpathian Mountain range (after Tatra), reaching heights of over 2,500 meters. Although considerably smaller than the Alps, they are classified as having an alpine landscape. Their high mountain character, combined with great accessibility, makes them popular with tourists and scientists.
The highest peaks are:
- Moldoveanu Peak, 2,544 metres - Făgăraș Mountains
- Negoiu, 2,535 metres - Făgăraș Mountains
- Parângu Mare, 2,519 metres - Parâng Mountains
- Peleaga, 2,509 metres - Retezat Mountains
- Omu Peak 2,507 metres - Bucegi Mountains
Despite the heights, some of the most accessible passages in the Carpathians in Romania are along the rivers, which cross the mountain range (the Olt River) or form wide valleys (along the Prahova River Valley or along the Jiu River Valley).
The South Carpathians represent an intricate pile of tectonic nappes, overthrusted from west eastwards during the Austrian (Middle Cretaceous) and Laramian paroxysmal phases, corresponding to various plate fragments. The napes are (from west eastwards): the Supragetic, Getic, Severin and Danubian Units. The Getic Nappe was identified by Murgoci (1905), while the general understanding over the Alpine structure of the South Carpathians was later refined by Codarcea (1940), Codarcea et al. (1961), Năstăseanu et al. (1981), Săndulescu (1984), Săndulescu and Dimitrescu (2004), and Mutihac (1990). The first to apply the global tectonics concepts for the Romanian Carpathians were Rădulescu and Săndulescu (1973).
The Supragetic, Getic Nappes as well as the Danubian Units represent units with both a metamorphic basement and a sedimentary cover, while the Severin Nappe includes only a sedimentary sequence. The Getic Nappe and the Danubian Units sediments include a Palaeozoic sequence (Upper Carboniferous, Lower Permian) and a Mesozoic sequence (Lowermost Jurassic - Middle Cretaceous). The Supragetic Nappe comprises mainly metamorphosed rocks (gneisses, micashists), while the Severin Nappe includes only Upper Jurassic - Lower Cretaceous sediments.
From east to west, four mountain groups can be identified, separated by different river valleys.
- Bucegi Mountains group - between the Prahova and Dâmboviţa Rivers.
- Făgăraş Mountains group - between the Dâmbovița River and the Olt River.
- Parâng Mountains group - between the Olt River and the Jiu River.
- Retezat-Godeanu Mountains group - between the Jiu River and the Timiș and Cerna Rivers.
The first two groups are steepest on the North side, and the last two are steepest on the South side.
- Comănescu, Laura, & Alexandru Nedelea. 2016. Geomorphosites Assessments of the Glacial and Periglacial Landforms from Southern Carpathoans. In: Maria Radoane & Alfred Vespremeanu-Stroe (eds.), Landform Dynamics and Evolution in Romania, pp. 215–248. Cham: Springer, p. 202.
- Quinn, Joyce Ann, & Susan L Woodward. 2015. Earth's Landscape: An Encyclopedia of the World's Geographic Features. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, p. 138.
- Murgoci, G.M., 1905. Sur l'existence d'une grande nappe de recouvrement dans les Carpathes meridionales. C. R. Acad. Sci., 7: 31.
- Codarcea , A., 1940. Vues nouvelles sur la tectonique du Banat meridional et du Plateau de Mehedinți. D. S. Inst. Geol. Rom., 20: 1-74.
- Codarcea, A., Răileanu, G., Pavelescu, L., Gherasi, N., Năstăseanu, S., Bercia, I. and Mercus, D., 1961. Guide des excursions. Carpates Meridionales, București, 130 pp.
- Năstăseanu, S., Bercia, I., Iancu, V., Vlad and Hârtopanu, I., 1981. The structure of the South Carpathians (Mehedinți - Banat Area). Guidebooks series, 22. IGR, Bucuresti, 3-100 pp.
- Săndulescu, M., 1984. Geotectonica României. Editura Tehnică, București, 336 pp.
- Săndulescu, M. and Dimitrescu, R., 2004. Geological structure of the Romanian Carpathians, Florence, 48 pp.
- Mutihac, V., 1990. Structura geologică a teritoriului României. Editura Tehnică, Bucharest, 419 pp.
- Rădulescu, D. and Săndulescu, M., 1973. The plate-tectonics concept and the geological structure of the Carpathians. Tectonophysics, 16: 155-161.
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