On the 1st of October 2010 the wider area of Vikos - Aoos was designated as Vikos - Aoos Geopark and was added to the European Geopark Network of UNESCO.  

  Mountain Timfi, Vikos and Voidomatis gorge, Aoos gorge, mountain Trapezitsa, Smolikas and Kleftis, the area where rivers Aoos, Voidomatis, Sarantaporos connect and the thermal-medicimal springs of Kavasila and Amarantos, are all included in Vikos - Aoos Geopark. ACBR Most of the Geopark is within the boundaries of the North Pindos National Park.

  The main purpose for establishing the Geopark is tο highlight, promote and preserve it, as a geological monument of the nature, in parallel with promoting the natural and anthropogenous environment of the region. ACBR  Also, one of the main objectives is for the Geopark to become an attraction for visitors for its unique and rare geological and geomorphological monuments of Vikos - Aoos Geopark.{/AC}

Epirus Geological Environment{AC}

  Natural processes have carved out an impressive landscape in Epirus: the steep, rocky mountaintops alternate with deep gorges and hill ranges with lush vegetation. Timfi, the limestone mountain range which is part of NW Pindos, was carved by water very quickly during the Pleistocene; the world renowned Vikos and Aoos gorges were created as a result of this process.

  It is a striking area in terms of aesthetic value as well as geological interest. Tectonic(faults, folds) and lithological structures, springs, sinks and caves, rock shelters and precipices, river terraces, glacial remnants and alpine lakes are some of the elements that designate this place as a laboratory of nature.


  This landscape of unparalleled beauty, with its rich flora and fauna, is a protected area which encompasses the Vikos - Aoos and Valia Kalda National Parks. It is characterised by the high peaks of Timfi mountain range, steep, rocky slopes of forest-covered slopes, perpendicular walls, deep gorges, rivers and large springs, several plateaus with alpine vegetation.

{/AC} {AC} The two big rivers, Aoos and Voidomatis, with their tributaries run deep into the limestones and create gorges of unique beauty. The rich flora and fauna, the abundance of water and the excellent microclimate ensure excellent living conditions; that is why, ever since prehistoric times, people have found shelter in the caverns of the gorge. The findings at the rock shelters Klidi and Boila, at the lower part of the Voidomatis river course testify to a wealth of human activity 14,000 13,000 years B.P.(Before Present).


  The climate of the area is quite special, because of the complex relief, the spectacular altitude variations and the position of the area with regard to the Ionian Sea coasts. The climate variations ultimately define the type of vegetation. On the mountain range of Timfi, which presents considerable altitude variations(ranging from 400 m to 2,400 m), there is a variety of climate types, each with its own repercussions on the type of vegetation.{/AC}



  At present, the extensive hydrological basin of Voidomatis river reveals a high karstic field, which used to be covered by glaciers at intervals during the Pleistocene. The alternating glacial and interglacial environments, and the geodynamic processes which created fast ascendant movements, combined with the tectonic - karstic phenomena, created favourable conditions for intense erosion.


  The copious amounts of water released have flown amid the discontinuities caused by the faults and have deeply carved the limestone blocks, giving the relief of the area its present form.

  The deep gorges revealed the stratigraphic column of the rocks which make up the geological structure of the area.ACBR When we visit or take a good look at the Aoos or Vikos gorges, we can see on a natural scale the succession of limestones that were created millions of years ago in a deep sea and, after complex geological processes, they are currently to be seen in altitudes reaching 2,400 metres.


  • Geological Map of Epirus by

{/AC}Geotectonic Zones{AC}

  The geological structure of the area is formed be sedimentary rocks belonging principally to the geotectonic Ionian zone, and secondarily to the geotectonic Pindos zone. In the Ionian zone, the most ancient rocks are sedimentary rocks, dark grey, non-laminar, voluminous, compact dolomitic limestones. These rocks can be observed at the bottom of Aoos gorge.


  Their age was determined by means of the sea fossils found inside them;they date back to the Lower Jurassic (200 million years ago). Over these rocks, there are also limestones, but they are distinct from the former. The latter are Vigla limestones, 800m thick, dolomitic at their base, dark grey colour and black chert lenses. They date back to the Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous (160-100 million years ago).


  • Geotectonic Zones of Greece by


  They are followed by thick-bedded limestones, 200-250 m thick microbreccias, which date back to the Upper Cretaceous(80 million years ago), and 250 m thick limestones, dating back to the Eocene (50-40 million years ago). On top of the geological structure, there are clastic flysch deposits(Upper Eocene-Aquitanian, 35-20 million years ago). The flysch is composed by alternate argillaceous and sandstone layers, intercalated by conglomerates in various places.


  The most recent formation, dating back to the Quaternary(1.8 million years ago to the present day), is extensive lateral scree on mountain slopes, talus cones, glacial deposits, river terraces and recent alluvial deposits by the rivers. There is also a smaller degree of the Pindos zone flysch formation, dating back to Eocene, the lithology of which is similar to that of the Ionian flysch.


  • Geological Cut


  Twenty million years ago, due to the collision between the African and the Eurasian plates, powerful compressive movements prevailed in the Greek area, the Pindos zone thrust into the Ionian zone. Sediments were deformed, thus giving rise to folds and faults. These are large visible faults on the carbonate mass of Timfi their layout is rectangular and their orientation is NW-SE and NE-SW.ACBR The faults that stand out are the Astraka (Papigo) fault and the Konitsa fault, both of them responsible for the creation of Konitsa basin, the Monodendri, Kapesovo, Kipi faults in the East of the limestone Tymfi mass, and the Gamila fault in the North, at the point of contact with the Pindos flysch.

{/AC}  The text and photos published in this 'Geology' part of the website are being published with the appoval of the Institute of Geology & Mineral Exploration -

   It is a part of the series «Geotrails in Greece» published by the Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) for the project «Designation of geosites - geoparks, contribution to sustainable development» of 2009.

 Astraka-Mountain-Hut-Facebook-Page Astraka-Mountain-Hut-Google+-