The nine systems comprised in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site are a morphogenetic unity whose distinguishing look not only depends from their complex geological structure but is also linked to several climatic conditions.
The Dolomites are characterized by exceptional shapes as well as by geological processes and features which are different from those of other mountain chains and this morphological geo-diversity makes them unique in the world. From the west towards the east you see needles, pinnacles, clayey terrain, lakes, ridges of volcanic rock, gorges, scree slopes and landslides, all caused by an intense climatic change occurred during remote geological eras.
You can clearly perceive past tectonic movements, proved by the presence of escarpments and fault lines, as well as glacial erosion, which has polished and layered the rocks and created moraine depots, cirques and valleys. Moreover, you can observe the force of gravity which has led to a detachment of portions of rocks and has created strata, scree cones and ridges; and also the karst phenomena like sink-holes, springs and underground caves.
The evolution of the Dolomites UNESCO Site continues and is linked to various conditions, not only to climatic and meteorological events but also to structural discontinuity and to human activities. Recently, the rising temperatures, followed by cycles of freezing and strong rain have created mudflows, visible in the valleys of Boite and Cordevole, as well as rock falls like the ones that took place on the Tofane, on the Pale di San Martino, on the Latemar and in the Val Gardena valley.