Geography and geology

The Klostertal extends from Bludenz to the Arlberg. It connects Vorarlberg with Tyrol and the rest of Austria. The name Klostertal is derived from the word „Klösterle“. The former name was Mariental.

When you drive through the Arlbergstraße (formerly: Bundesstraße) and through the villages – since 1979 the villages have been relieved by an expressway – you see and you feel it: the Klostertal with its torrents, ravines, creeks and debris cones has become a natural, but nevertheless safe valley. The many protective structures of the railroad and the road have contributed significantly to this.

This mountainous landscape, the alpine character, the geological differences shaped and still shape the culture and the people of this barren, impressive environment. The Klostertal, the Klostertal mountains and the villages with their small and large, sometimes hidden treasures form a unity.

Otto Ampferer (1875-1947), who is one of the most famous geologists of the Alps, wrote the following sentence in 1913 about the Lechtal Alps, which tower up like a wall in the north of the Klostertal:

The material of the mountain body originates, if we disregard some smaller contributions, from the formation sites of the Triassic-Jurassic-Cretaceous seas.Unceasingly the forces are at work, which strive to grind up all the land of our earth and give it back to the sea. At first sight, this throbbing, this scratching at the immense mountain fastnesses, at the enormous plateaus, the huge plains, the foaming of the tide belt at the foreheads of the rocky coasts seems impotent.Born in the bosom of the sea, formed by subterranean forces, our country received its present face under the file lines of weathering.

Otto Ampferer, Geologe

Geography

This alpine longitudinal valley stretches for 38 km between Bludenz and the Arlberg Pass. It is crossed by the Alfenzbach stream and forms the border between the southern Lechquellengebirge/Klostertal Alps in the north and the Verwallgruppe in the south.

It is characteristic of this valley, which runs from east to west, that the villages in the north are located „sunny side up“. The opening of the Arlberg expressway meant that all the villages remained attractive, quiet villages.

The Klostertal is also a valley of the so-called alluvial fans and the Murenkegel. They provided ideal conditions for the settlement of this formerly so rough and inhospitable valley. The Alfenz stream repeatedly overflowed its banks, for example in 1910 and 2005 – and this despite the fact that the Alfenz has been tamed with numerous structures.

Even today it has retained its torrent character, as have most of the other ravines and streams in the valley.

Geology

To the north are the rocks of the southern Lechquellengebirge (Klostertal Alps), which were deposited as oceanic rocks about 250 million years ago.

These sediments started as red sandstones, they were conglomerates. This was followed by huge limestone, marl, roughwacke and dolomite deposits. They cover the so-called „Variscan basement“ of the Verwall, which consists of various crystalline rocks such as phyllite, mica schist, gneiss and amphibolite.