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In terms of geomorphology (1), the term “Erzgebirge” (Ore Mountains) refers to the medium-high mountain range straddling the Saxon-Bohemian border.

In the Ore Mountains, plateaux of gneiss and mica slate surmounted by marked basalt and granite rocks alternate with deep valleys. The correlation between the history of the earth and the present form of our landscape is best understood by thinking of our area as a homogeneous piece of the earth’s crust. During the first three periods of the Paleozoic Era (Cambrian, Silurian, Devonian) our area was covered by the sea. In the course of 450 million years, a sediment layer of fine sands and clays over 1,000 m high formed at the bottom of the sea and was later folded in the process of Variscan mountain formation. This resulted in the formation of gneiss, a metamorphic rock made up of feldspar, quartz and mica.

Blick auf den Pöhlberg Hirtstein

The Ore Mountains are basically understood to consist of metamorphic rocks2. We have to differentiate between layers of gneiss and of mica slate. These metamorphites are interspersed with magmatic rocks such as granites (acidic eruptive rocks), basalts and rhyolites. As a result of tectonic movement the gneiss cracked and chasms and crevasses were formed. About 350 to 250 million years ago, these were filled with several flows of molten granite. These granite intrusions3 brought up hot aqueous metal solutions (referred to as pneumatolytic and hydrothermal mineralization), which settled in the upper area of the granites and in the chasms and crevasses of the gneiss, and in the process of cooling down crystallized to form minerals. These mineral-bearing chasms are called veins and, if such minerals are of use to humans, they are known as veins of ore.

Phases of pressure resulted in the formation of dome-shaped cones and cleavage zones. The most significant of this type are known as Freiberg, Annaberg and Marienberg gneiss knolls. At the same time these are the areas where ore veins are frequently found. The basic rock is a fine to medium grained gneiss that was also known as grey gneiss in the past.



Geomorphology = the branch of geography describing and researching the shapes of the earth’s crust and their formation


Metamorphic rock = the result of the transformation of one rock into another, caused by an increase in pressure and temperature; a process that usually takes place in the lower zones of the earth’s crust.


Intrusion = penetration of magmatic material into the earth’s crust and to the earth’s surface.

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