Kristallkluft Gerstenegg


Useful Information

Location: Visitor Centre at the Grimsel Hospiz.
From Guttannen to Gerstenegg at the dam Räterichsboden. Turn right to the cable car. The entrance to the adit is at the cable car station.
(46.701409, 8.232265)
Open: Mid-JUN to mid-OCT daily .
[2021]
Fee: Adults CHF 38, Children (6-15) CHF 26.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyFracture Cave, SpeleologyGeode Power station
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=20 m.
Guided tours: D=2h, Max=15, MinAge=6.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: H.A. Stalder, E. Rufibach, D. Forter und P. Vollenweider (1987): Die geschützte Mineralkluft an der Gerstenegg, Grimsel BE, Schweizer Strahler, Vol 7, Nr. 10, 1987, pp 433-456.
Ernst Rufibach (1999): Freuden und Leiden im Leben eines Strahlers und Bergführers, Kristallmuseum Guttannen
H.A. Stalder (1986): Beschreibung der geschützten Mineralkluft Gerstenegg, Grimsel, Bern, Mitteilungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Bern, Vol 43. pdf
Address: Grimselwelt, Grimselstrasse 19, 3862 Innertkirchen, Tel: +41-33-982-26-26. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

04-OCT-1974 discovered.
DEC-1974 declared a protected geologic Natural Monument by the Bern government.
1987 opened to the public.

Description

Kristallkluft Gerstenegg is probably the most exceptional natural cave of the world. It is the only accessible crystal cleft filled with quartz crystals, located inside the Grimsel granite massive.

The cave was formed by tectonic forces and movements which are part of the orogeny of the Alps. In an early stage of the orogeny a magma intrusion into clefts caused by the folding cooled down very slowly inside the mountains. The result was granite, where the three main components, quartz, spar and glimmer become solid, each at its own temperature. So they are separated forming rather huge crystals.

Later this intrusion was fractured by the tectonic forces, after it became hard enough to be brittle. These cracks were filled by groundwater. The granite, still containing some of its original temperature heated the water and induced thermal convection streams. The water dissolved quartz from the granite, transported it to this large cleft and redeposited the quartz in the form of continually growing quartz crystals or rock crystals.