Western Alps

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Western Alps


part of the Alps mountain system, situated to the west of a line passing from Lake Constance in the north to Lake Como in the south, within the limits of Italy, France, and Switzerland. The Western Alps contain the highest ranges and massifs of the Alps (Mont Blanc, 4,807 m) with widespread glacial forms of relief, systems of longitudinal and transversal deep valleys, and large glaciers.

The Western Alps are distinguished from the Eastern Alps by their lesser width (in certain areas up to 130 km), clearly pronounced arched strike, considerable steepness of slopes facing the direction of the Padua Lowland, thick and deep tectonic and fluvial terrain, high humidification of northern regions where subalpine and alpine landscapes of elevated zones are widespread, and the presence of Mediterranean landscapes in lower sections of the slopes of the southern ranges. The largest ridges in terms of height and area are confined to the crystalline zone of the Western Alps. From the outer side of the arc this zone is bounded by a zone of smaller (primarily up to 2,000 m) ranges of the Pre-Alps, composed mainly of limestone and marl. Mountain forest terrain predominates.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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