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The Dolomite massifs surrounding Cortina are the result of the uplifting and folding of large rock masses, caused by tremendously powerful tectonic movements.
These phenomena ravaged an area, which about 234 million years ago, was a warm sea, dotted with rocks and atolls, rather like the Caribbean today.
Subsequent volcanic eruptions created numerous islands, and ongoing erosion produced large quantities of volcanioclastic deposits, dark rocks containing abundant plant fossils, evidence of the presence of tropical forests (230 million years ago).
Later, we see evidence of a tropical sea (229 million years ago), rich in coral reef, which is found in softer rocks such as marl and marl limestone of the so-called ‚ÄúSan Cassiano Formation‚ÄĚ.
A drop in the sea level and the emersion of large land areas drastically altereed the Dolomite mountainscape (225 million years ago): the coral reefs disappeared and extensive flat sea-beds were formed. The shallow waters favoured the growth of large bivalves and many different species of fish, as well as the appearance of the first land reptiles.
The discovery, not only of animal fossils, but also of coal and amber, testifies to the existence of luxuriant forests.
Subsequently (224 million years ago), the level of the sea rose again and, cyclically, covered the land, depositing carbon rich mud, the ‚ÄúPrincipal Dolomia‚ÄĚ, that enveloped large lamellibranchs, called megalodonts.