The Southern Carpathians (Romanian: CarpaÈii Meridionali, Serbian: ÐÑÐ¶Ð½Ð¸ ÐÐ°ÑÐ¿Ð°ÑÐ¸/JuÅ¾ni Karpati, Hungarian: DÃ©li-KÃ¡rpÃ¡tok) are a group of mountain ranges that divide central and southern Romania, on one side, and Serbia, on the other. They cover the part of the Carpathian Mountains located between the Prahova River in the east and the TimiÈ and Cerna Rivers in the west. To the south they are bounded by the Balkan mountain range in Serbia.
The Southern Carpathian are the second highest group of mountains in the Carpathian Mountain range (after Tatra), reaching heights of over 2,500 meters. Although considerably smaller than the Alps, they are classified as having an alpine landscape. Their high mountain character, combined with great accessibility, makes them popular with tourists and scientists.
The highest peaks are:
- Moldoveanu Peak, 2,544 metres - FÄgÄraÈ Mountains
- Negoiu, 2,535 metres - FÄgÄraÈ Mountains
- ParÃ¢ngu Mare, 2,519 metres - ParÃ¢ng Mountains
- Peleaga, 2,509 metres - Retezat Mountains
- Omu Peak 2,507 metres - Bucegi Mountains
Despite the heights, some of the most accessible passages in the Carpathians in Romania are along the rivers, which cross the mountain range (the Olt River) or form wide valleys (along the Prahova River Valley or along the Jiu River Valley).
The South Carpathians represent an intricate pile of tectonic nappes, overthrusted from west eastwards during the Austrian (Middle Cretaceous) and Laramian paroxysmal phases, corresponding to various plate fragments. The napes are (from west eastwards): the Supragetic, Getic, Severin and Danubian Units. The Getic Nappe was identified by Murgoci (1905), while the general understanding over the Alpine structure of the South Carpathians was later refined by Codarcea (1940), Codarcea et al. (1961), NÄstÄseanu et al. (1981), SÄndulescu (1984), SÄndulescu and Dimitrescu (2004), and Mutihac (1990). The first to apply the global tectonics concepts for the Romanian Carpathians were RÄdulescu and SÄndulescu (1973).
The Supragetic, Getic Nappes as well as the Danubian Units represent units with both a metamorphic basement and a sedimentary cover, while the Severin Nappe includes only a sedimentary sequence. The Getic Nappe and the Danubian Units sediments include a Palaeozoic sequence (Upper Carboniferous, Lower Permian) and a Mesozoic sequence (Lowermost Jurassic - Middle Cretaceous). The Supragetic Nappe comprises mainly metamorphosed rocks (gneisses, micashists), while the Severin Nappe includes only Upper Jurassic - Lower Cretaceous sediments.
From east to west, four mountain groups can be identified, separated by different river valleys.
- Bucegi Mountains group - between the Prahova and DÃ¢mboviÅ£a Rivers.
- Bucegi Mountains (MunÈii Bucegi)
- Piatra Craiului (literally: "Rock of the King")
- LeaotÄ Mountains (MunÈii LeaotÄ)
- FÄgÄraÅ Mountains group - between the DÃ¢mboviÈa River and the Olt River.
- FÄgÄraÅ Mountains (MunÈii FÄgÄraÈului)
- Iezer Mountains (MunÈii Iezer; literally: "Mountains of the Deep Lake")
- Cozia Mountains (MunÈii Cozia)
- ParÃ¢ng Mountains group - between the Olt River and the Jiu River.
- ParÃ¢ng Mountains (MunÈii ParÃ¢ng)
- Åureanu Mountains (MunÈii Èureanu/M. SebeÈului)
- Cindrel Mountains (MunÈii Cindrel/M. Cibinului)
- Lotru Mountains (MunÈii Lotrului; literally: "Mountains of the Thief")
- CÄpÄÅ£Ã¢nÄ Mountains (MunÈii CÄpÄÈÃ¢nii; literally: "Mountains of the Skull")
- Retezat-Godeanu Mountains group - between the Jiu River and the TimiÈ and Cerna Rivers.
- Retezat Mountains (MunÈii Retezat; literally: "Hewed Mountains")
- Godeanu Mountains (MunÈii Godeanu)
- VÃ¢lcan Mountains (MunÈii VÃ¢lcan)
- MehedinÅ£i Mountains (MunÈii MehendinÈi)
- Cerna Mountains (MunÈii Cernei)
- Å¢arcu Mountains (MunÈii Èarcu; literally: "Pen Mountains").
The first two groups are steepest on the North side, and the last two are steepest on the South side.
- Divisions of the Carpathians
- Iron Gates, at the South-Western end
- Prahova Valley, at the Eastern end
- Pictures and landscapes from the Southern Carpathians