Imaggeo on Mondays: The Groapa Ruginoasa

Imaggeo on Mondays: The Groapa Ruginoasa

The Apuseni National Park, in Romania, is a geoscientists paradise. This 187,000 acre Park in the Western Carpathians boasts caves, deep valleys and gorges, karst landscapes, rocky steep walls and underground watercourses. The sheer beauty of the landscape is captured in today’s Imaggeo on Mondays image featuring the Groapa Ruginoasa, a deep sandstone ravine.

“Locality names of morphological features often allow for drawing conclusions on the geological processes that shaped them,” says Martin Reiser, who took the photograph.

The steep, barren slopes of the so called “Groapa Ruginosa” (Romanian for rusty pit) nature monument show a stark contrast to the gentle morphology and green woods of the Apuseni National Park. This spectacular ravine was shaped by headward erosion of an intermittent stream in the Valea Seacă (“Dry Valley”). Headward erosion occurs at the start of channels and streams, causing the origin to move backward and thus elongating the water course. The steepness of the slope on which the channel forms contributes to the speeding up of the erosive processes.

The “rusty pit”  is about 100 m deep and measures ca. 600 m across. Although there are no studies on the rate of erosion at this locality, geological maps from the late 19th century show a fairly small extent of this morphological feature.

“The yellowish to reddish colour of the eroded Permian to Lower Triassic sediments (sandstones, conglomerates and phyllites) gave the ravine its name,” explains Martin. Further downstream, the name of the Valea Galbena (“Yellow Valley”) also relates to the colour of the stream that carries the eroded sediments.


By Martin Reiser, University of Innsbruck and Laura Roberts Artal, EGU Communication Officer.

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Laura Roberts Artal is the Outreach and Dissemination Manager at The Water Innovation Hub (University of Sheffield). Laura also volunteers as the Associate Director of Communications for Geology for Global Development. She has also held a role in industry as Marketing Manager for PDS Ava (part of PDS Group). Laura was the Communications Officer at the European Geosciences Union from the summer of 2014 to the end of 2017. Laura is a geologist by training and holds a PhD in palaeomagnetism from the University of Liverpool. She tweets at @LauRob85.

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