A model for the formation of the Pradol (Pradolino) dry valley in W Slovenia and NE Italy


  • Manuel Diercks
  • Christoph Grützner
  • Marko Vrabec
  • Kamil Ustaszewski




In tectonically active mountain ranges, the landscape is shaped by the interplay of erosion/sedimentation and tectonically driven crustal deformation. Characteristic landforms such as moraines, wind gaps, fault scarps, and river terraces can be used to decipher the landscape evolution. However, the available data often allow for different interpretations. Here we study the Pradol (Pradolino) Valley in Western Slovenia, a deeply incised canyon whose floor rests several hundreds of metres above the surrounding valleys. We use high-resolution digital elevation models, geomorphic indices and field observations to unravel the evolution of this peculiar landform. We present a six-stage evolution model of the canyon that includes the blockage of valleys by advancing glaciers, river diversion, and rapid incision due to a high discharge of post-glacial meltwater. The formation of the Pradol Valley was most likely facilitated by an underlying fault that serves as an easily erodible weakness zone in the Mesozoic limestones. Our model indicates that the formation of the canyon could have occurred during the last glaciation, which results in incision rates of several cm/yr. With the proposed model we can explain all remote and field observations available. Our study shows that a complex interplay of different landscape-shaping processes is needed to explain the occurrence of the Pradol dry valley and that rapid changes in the morphology occurred after the last glacial maximum.


How to Cite

Diercks, M., Grützner, C., Vrabec, M., & Ustaszewski, K. (2021). A model for the formation of the Pradol (Pradolino) dry valley in W Slovenia and NE Italy. Geologija, 64(1), 21–33. https://doi.org/10.5474/geologija.2021.002