Around 100 million years ago, the African tectonic plate began drifting north, towards the Eurasian plate. In the process, rock layers were lifted giving rise to the Alps over millions of years. This upward movement is still going on today in weakened form. But the lifting of the Alps is offset by the natural erosion caused by wind and water.
In the course of the plates colliding, underlying rock layers were pushed up in some places. Today these layers otherwise found far down in the Alps form the highest peaks of the Hohe Tauern, This is called the Hohe Tauern window, which spans from the Brenner Pass in the west to Katschberg Pass in the east with a length of 160 km and a width of 30 km.
Another special feature is made up of the four massive gneissic cores found in the Hohe Tauern window. These cores consisting of liquid magma form famous peaks such as the Grossvenediger and Hohe Sonnblick.
Since time immemorial the Hohe Tauern region has been known for its mineral deposits. During the formation of the Alps, the prevailing pressure and temperature conditions resulted in numerous minerals being generated, of which 220 different types have been found to this day. These include precious one such as gold and silver, but also rock crystals and emeralds. They form the crystal treasure of the Hohe Tauern.