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Like an estimator once said, Majella offers to the daring "gourgeously beautiful landscapes, inaccessbile to human foot". The carbonatic succession, backbone of the imposing mountain group, shows through wonderful exposures the transition from platform margin and proximal basin, Upper Cretaceous to Miocene paleoenvironments, with a large variety of fossils.

The Majella Groups uniformly dips towards the east. Paleontological studies suggest that this was an ancient platform margin, part of a larger structure that existed from the Jurassic to the Cenozoic, and that today forms the Apulian foreland. During the Paleogene this margin was the site of coralline constructions, becoming during the Oligocene true, albeit small, tropical reefs. Monte Amaro and the other peaks of the Majella Group today are the sites of very high diversity invetebrate fossil assemblages, comprising solitary and colonial corals, bryozoans, large foraminifera, green and red algae, bivalves and brachiopods.

As far as it is known, the Majella constituted, during Eocene, the northernmost extension in the distribution of tropical large forams like Loftusia, Globoflarina, Haymanella, Vania, Alveolina elliptica, Nummulites gr. gizehensis-lyelli and Nummulites millecaput.

Further reading

Matteucci R., & Pignatti J.S. (1991). The Paleocene of the Apulian area (central-eastern Italy). Rendiconti della Società Geologica Italiana 14, 189-194.

Moderni P. (1891). Osservazioni geologiche sul gruppo della Majella. Bollettino del Regio Comitato Geologico. Fascicolo 1.

Moussavian E. & Vecsei A. (1995). Paleocene Reef Sediments from Maiella Carbonate Platform, Italy. Facies 32, 213-222.

Pignatti J., Di Carlo M., Benedetti A., Bottino C., Briguglio A., Falconi M., Matteucci R., Perugini G. & Ragusa M. (2008). SBZ 2-6 larger foraminiferal assemblages from the Apulian and Pre-Apulian domains. Atti del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Trieste 53 (supplemento): 131-145.

Vecsei A. & Moussavian E. (1997). Paleocene reefs on the Maiella platform margin, Italy: an example of the effects of the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary events on reefs and carbonate platforms. Facies 36, 123-140.

Vecsei A. & Sanders D. (1997). Shelf margin aggradation and emersion related to sea-level highstand and lowstand shedding, Eocene-Oligocene of Maiella carbonate platform, Italy. Sedimentary Geology 112, 219-234.

Text and photographs by Antonino Briguglio

(partially in English)