Environmental Geology

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 587–599 | Cite as

Geomorphology and geomorphological heritage of the Ifrane–Azrou region (Middle Atlas, Morocco)

  • Jo De Waele
  • Maria Teresa Melis
Original Article


Geomorphological heritage is a widely used term in European and North-American countries, but is still scarcely mentioned in Africa. Nevertheless, the attractiveness of the African countries is often intimately connected to its breathtaking and endless geological landscapes. Morocco is one of those countries that has the widest diversity in landscapes and landforms, ranging from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts over the Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain chains to the great rocky and sandy deserts in the South. A wide variety of geological units hosting different types of important economic mineral deposits cover a temporal range from Late Precambrian to Quaternary. A detailed geomorphological study has been carried out in the region of Ifrane and Azrou (Middle Atlas, Central Morocco) using a combination of high resolution satellite data and direct field observations integrated by geological maps and scientific literature. In order to describe and evaluate the geomorphological heritage of this area, 40 geomorphosites have been selected comprising springs, karst landforms (polje, dolines, caves, sinkholes, stone forests, cryptokarstic dolines), carbonate depositional landforms (travertines and waterfalls), fluvial landforms (meanders, canyons, palaeo-valleys, etc.), structural landforms (triangular facets, hogbacks, cuestas, residual outcrops, etc.) and volcanic landforms (volcanoes, caldeira, pyroclastic cones, lava tube). The results of this research have been summarised in a thematic map, representing the geomorphosites related to various landscape units.


Geomorphological heritage Remote sensing Karst Volcanic landforms Morocco 



This research has benefited from the financial support of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia (RAS) inside a Cooperation Project entitled “Geosites and Geomorphosites of the Middle Atlas (Morocco)” (Regional Law 19/1996) supervised by Prof. Felice Di Gregorio and Prof. Mohamed El Wartiti. Many thanks to the many Italian and Moroccan colleagues who have accompanied us in our trips to the Middle Atlas, especially Prof. Felice Di Gregorio, Prof. Mohammed El Wartiti, Prof. Driss Fadli, Prof. M. Zahraoui, Dr. Amina Malaki, Dr. Tarek Bahaj and Dr. Nezha El Mahmoudi.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geologico-AmbientaliUniversitá di BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly

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