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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jura Mountains
Looking towards Lelex from near the Crêt de la Neige
Countries France, Switzerland
Regions Rhône-Alpes, Franche-Comté, Vaud, Canton of Neuchâtel, Canton of Jura, Basel-Landschaft
Borders on Alps
Highest point Crêt de la Neige
 - elevation 1,720 m (5,643 ft)
Satellite image of the Jura Mountains

The Jura Mountains are a small mountain range located north of the Alps, separating the Rhine and Rhone rivers and forming part of the watershed of each. The mountain range sensu Johann Gottfried Ebel (* 1764, † 1830) is located in France, Switzerland, and Germany.[1] The name “Jura” is derived from the Celtic root "jor" which was latinised into "juria", meaning forest (i.e., "Jura" is forest mountains).[2][3][4]

In France, it covers essentially the region of Franche-Comté, stretching south to the region of Rhône-Alpes east of the department of Ain, where the range reaches its peak at Le Crêt de la Neige. The southern end of the French Jura is in the northwest of the department of Savoie. The north end is in the very south of Alsace. Roughly 1600 square kilometers of the mountain range is protected within the Jura Mountains Regional Natural Park.

In Switzerland, the range covers the western border with France in the Cantons of Basel, Solothurn, Jura, Bern (i.e., Bernese Jura), Neuchâtel, Vaud, and the border with Germany in the Canton of Schaffhausen. It includes also the Canton of Basel-Landschaft. The Swiss Jura has been industrialized since the 18th century and was a major center of the watchmaking industry. Therefore, there are relatively large cities at very high altitudes, such as La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, and Sainte-Croix (renowned for its musical boxes). This area has had a marked decline in population since about 1960. The Swiss Jura is also one of the three distinct geographical regions of Switzerland, the other being the Swiss plateau and the Swiss Alps.

In Germany, the Jura is lower in altitude, stretching into Bavaria in the Swabian and Franconian plateaus.

The mountain range has given its name to the French department of Jura, the Swiss Canton of Jura, and the Jurassic period of the geologic timescale.



The Jura Mountains are a distinct physiographic province of the larger Central European Uplands division.



Creux du Van

The range is being built up vertically while decreasing in size laterally (along a rough northwest-southeast line.) This deformation is accommodating the compression from alpine folding as the main Alpine orogenic front moves roughly northwards. The deformation becomes less pervasive away from the younger, more active Alpine mountain building.

The folds comprise three major (lithological units) bands of building evidenced dated roughly by era: the Malm, Dogger, and Lias (part of the Jurassic Geologic period). Each era of folding represents effects on a previously shallow marine environment as evidenced by beds with particular carbonate sequences, containing abundant bioclasts and oolitic divisions between layers (called horizons).

Structurally, the Jura consists of a sequence of folds, the formation of which is facilitated by an evaporitic decollement layer. The box folds are still relatively young, and this is evident in that they define the shape of the overlying landscape, meaning that they have not existed long enough to experience erosion and thus are evidence of recent mountain building.

The highest peak in the Jura range is Le Crêt de la Neige at 1,720 metres (5,600 ft), although previously it was believed to be 1,717.6 metres (5,635 ft). This could be caused by constant Tectonic Plate movements pushing the mountain range higher.


Lac de Joux, the largest lake in the range

The Jura range offer a variety of tourist activities including hiking, cycling, skiing and cross-country skiing. There are many signposted trails including the Jura ridgeway, a 310 km hiking route.

Tourist attractions include natural features such as the Creux du Van, lookout peaks such as the Chasseral and caves such as the Grottes de l'Orbe and gorges such as Taubenloch, and for amateurs of Swiss Watches, touring the "Watch Valley" that stretches all across the Swiss Jura, from Schaffhausen to Geneva

Both Le Locle and its geographical twin town La Chaux-de-Fonds have now been recognised as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, for their horological and related cultural past.


  1. ^ Ebel, J.G. 1808. Ueber den Bau der Erde in dem Alpengebirge zwischen 12 Längen- und 2-4 Breitengraden nebst einigen Betrachtungen über die Gebirge und den Bau der Erde überhaupt. Zweyter Band. Orell Füssli und Compagnie 428 pp; Zürich
  2. ^ Rollier, L. 1903. Das Schweizerische Juragebirge. Sonderabdruck aus dem Geographischen Lexikon der Schweiz, Verlag von Gebr. Attinger, 39 pp; Neuenburg
  3. ^ Hölder, H. 1964. Jura - Handbuch der stratigraphischen Geologie, IV. Enke-Verlag, 603 pp., 158 figs, 43 tabs; Stuttgart
  4. ^ Arkell, W.J. 1956. Jurassic Geology of the World. Oliver & Boyd, 806 pp.; Edinburgh und London.


  • The geographical parts of this article were translated from the French Wikipedia article "Massif du Jura."
  • The Large Hadron Collider is situated between the Jura Mountains and the Alps.

See also


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