The Carinthian Nockberge mountains are among the most interesting and oldest upland formations in Europe. In terms of geomorphology they form a completely unique portion of the whole alpine area. The mountains’ gentle, rounded tops and summits (the so-called “Nocken”) are in stark contrast to the craggy high mountains: the Hohe Tauern that borders them in the west, the Niedere Tauern in the north and the Karawanken and Karnische Alps in the south. The fact that the Nockberge summit levels are around 800-900 metres lower than those of the Hohe Tauern is a result of geological history.
Formed about 60 million years ago, the Nockberge have been subject to erosion right down to the present day. The region is characterised by the varied composition of the rock. However, the geological distinctiveness lies in the occurrence of a limestone - dolomite layer, running from north to south in a band up to 3 km wide. More than 500 years ago the area was already being intensively mined. Over the course of history iron ore, magnesite, anthracite and garnets have been mined here.