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Die Gletschertöpfe sind Zeugen der letzten Eiszeit, die vor 20'000 Jahren auch die Region Luzern unter eine dicke Eisschicht legte. Noch viel älter sind die versteinerten Muscheln und Palmblätter, die im heutigen Gletschergarten gefunden wurden – sie zeigen, dass Luzern vor 20 Millionen Jahren an einem subtropischen Meeresstrand lag. Solche Zeugen der Erdgeschichte machen den Gletschergarten zu einem Geotop von nationaler Bedeutung.

DISCOVERY OF THE NATURAL MONUMENT

a natural
MONUMENT
INSTEAD of
a wine cellar

Josef Wilhelm Amrein-Troller was intending to build a wine cellar in the Lucerne sandstone when he discovered the potholes under the meadow on November 2, 1872.

At the time, Lucerne was emerging as a popular destination for tourism. So, instead of a wine cellar, Amrein opened the Glacier Garden on May 1, 1873. Then followed, in 1874, the residence in the style of a Swiss house, which today houses the museum. The natural monument has been covered by a tent-roof since 1980, which protects it from the elements and air pollution.

FORMATION OF THE NATURAL MONUMENT

the ice age
leaves traces
in the
sandstone

The geological bedrock of the Glacier Garden is made of what is known as Lucerne sandstone.

The area of today's Glacier Garden is dominated by a rocky mogul. As the Reuss Glacier moved across it during the last Ice Age, the typical characteristics of a so-called "roche moutonée" were left behind: glacial polish, glacial striation, crescentic gouging, deep potholes and glacial boulders bear witness to the time when Lucerne lay under around 800 meters of ice.

 

HOW ARE GLACIER POTHOLES FORMED?

The potholes were formed at the bottom of the glacier by the sheer force of the melt water, which carried sand and gravel. It seeped through fissures to the bottom of the glacier. As the flow of water gathered speed, vortices of up to 200 km/h began to form. Within a few years, or perhaps even in one single summer, potholes were eroded. The largest glacier pothole in the Glacier Garden is 9.5 meters deep, with a diameter of 8 meters.

 

EROSION OF THE SANDSTONE

The slow-moving flow of the glacier over thousands of years abraded and polished the sandstone bedrock. The erosion, the furrows and the striations are the witnesses.

 

WHERE DO THE BOULDERS COME FROM?

These stones either fell onto the glacier surface in the Alps or were scooped up from the ground by the ice and transported further down the valley. The boulders provide evidence that the alpine foothills were once almost entirely covered by glaciers. The large, light-colored granite boulder from the Gotthard region weighs around 5 tons.

 

FORMATION OF THE NATURAL MONUMENT

when
lucerne
still had a
palm beach

Yes, Lucerne was once a seashore lined with palm trees: fossilized seashells and palm fronds which were found in the Lucerne sandstone, together with traces left by heavy storms, testify to this.