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Hike to the tufa formations in Lingenau

When water turns to stone

The tufa formations in Lingenau are among the most impressive natural phenomena in Vorarlberg. On this short hike, you can almost see stones being formed in real time.
But what are these tufa formations? Calling it tufa is geologically inaccurate. Usually, stone formed from solidified volcanic ash is known as tufa. When the Romans conquered Vorarlberg in the 15th century, they came to the Bregenzerwald region. The rare stone they found here reminded them of the stones of their homeland in Southern Italy and named it after this tufa stone. But how are these tufa formations really created?

Moss and a growing stone

It takes a few ingredients to make these tufa formations, and they are plentiful in Lingenau. Most of the region stands on a glacier moraine or post-glacial gravel deposits. These substrates are highly permeable to water, and the stone contains high levels of lime. When the calcareous water rises to the surface and flows over carpets of moss, algae or colonies of cyanobacteria, significant quantities of lime are deposited, as these organisms withdraw carbon dioxide from the water for photosynthesis, causing the lime to precipitate. The lime coats the branches, stones, small trees etc., creating formations that grow upwards or steps in stream terraces. In this way, lime sediments of up to 20 mm can grow each year in favourable conditions, creating metre-high structures within a few centuries.

For a long time, the tufa formations were used as a construction material. It was light, stable, provided good insulation and was fire-resistant. An example of this can still be in the foundation walls of Lingenau’s chapel.

If you have more time, you can hike a longer route from the platform at the hill of tufa formations down to Subersach, across the suspension bridge and back up to Egg-Großdorf. That route features several more beautiful natural areas, and you can discover numerous orchids and other types of flowers along the trail.

Hiking route with a route description and map
  • Quelltuff-Gebiet in Lingenau

    Lingenau | when water turns to stones

    Nice tour to the calcareous tuff in Lingenau, which is one of the most…

    • 2,4 km

    • 01:30 h

    • leicht

    Lingenau | when water turns to stones
    Lingenau | when water turns to stones
    Lingenau | when water turns to stones
    Difficulty:leicht
    Distance:2,4 km
    Ascent:70 m
    Descent:70 m
    Duration:01:30 h
    Deepest point:552 m
    Highest point:671 m
    Condition:

    Experience:

    Landscape:

    Lingenau | when water turns to stones

    Nice tour to the calcareous tuff in Lingenau, which is one of the most remarkable…

    Start of tour

    Lingenau swimming pool car park (Hotel Quellengarten)

    End of tour

    Lingenau swimming pool car park (Hotel Quellengarten)

    Description

    The calc-tufa in Lingenau is one of the most unique calc-tufa formations north of the Alps, making it one of the outstanding geological phenomena in Vorarlberg. The water flows in small flumes over rocks as far as the riverbed of the Subersach, forming canopies and sinter curtains. Five information boards describe the geology and vegetation of this spectacle of nature. The nature trail takes you mainly across a passable gravel…

    Best season
    JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUN
    JULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC
    All route info

The tufa formations in Lingenau are among the most impressive natural phenomena in Vorarlberg.

On this short hike, you can almost see stones being formed in real time.

When the calcareous water rises to the surface and flows over carpets of moss, algae or colonies of cyanobacteria, significant quantities of lime are deposited, as these organisms withdraw carbon dioxide from the water for photosynthesis, causing the lime to precipitate.

The lime coats the branches, stones, small trees etc., creating formations that grow upwards or steps in stream terraces.

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