Møns Klint

Denmark
Date of Submission: 26/01/2023
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces
State, Province or Region:
Municipality of Vordingborg
Coordinates: N54.9841 E12.5437
Ref.: 6632

Description

The property of Møns Klint is a 6 km coastal chalk cliff with exceptional geological and scenic qualities. The white cliffs consist of Cretaceous chalk that has been bulldozed up into one of the world’s largest glaciotectonic complexes by glaciers during the last ice age, c. 17.000 years ago. The coastal position with active wave erosion has exposed a spectacular cross-section, with an outstanding exposure of more than 9000 meters, and a structural relief extending 200 meters from the base to the top of the complex. The steep white cliffs, more than 120 meters above sea level, form jagged towers of whiteness above turquoise waters, stony black flint beaches, and crowned by green beech tree forests on top.

It represents the most spectacular example of glaciotectonic mountain building and illustrates the profound effect of lowland glaciers on Pleistocene landscapes. This unique pocket sized ‘mountain’ is comprised of well- exposed folded and stacked beds of chalk and glaciogenic sediments, and the processes and architecture of this type of glaciotectonic mountain building, closely resembles that of the more well-known process of plate- tectonic orogenic mountain building.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Glaciers of the Pleistocene have had profound impact on landscape formation throughout the Northern Hemisphere, corresponding largely with fertile grain latitudes including the Eurasian Wheat Belt and the North American Corn Belt. Glacial landscapes of the Pleistocene therefore held special significance for humankind throughout history, and they are widely distributed in populated areas.

Møns Klint represents the best exposed and most spectacular cross-section of a large glaciotectonic complex from this epoch, and shows well defined tectonic structures, including folds and thrust faults, uniquely visible by means of black flintstone layers imbedded in the white chalk.

The glaciotectonic process is characterized by bedded rock units, in this case chalk, being as well compressed as deformed by advancing ice-sheet margins, and forming parallel composite ridges, visible in the landscape as systems of hills.

The mere scale and landscape expression of the Møns Klint complex, as well as the uniquely exposed cross section, make these white cliffs stand out as both spectacular and scientifically significant.

Criterion (vii): Møns Klint contain outstanding superlative qualities of scenic colours and a dramatic appearance. The steep white walls with their black flintstone layers and the turquoise waters beneath, create a spectacular coastal site of natural beauty. For the same reason Møns Klint has been of important aesthetic importance to the landscape painters of the 19th century ‘Golden Era’ of Denmark.

Criterion (viii): Møns Klint is an outstanding example of a major stage in the history of Earth; the glacial landscape formation and mountain building of the Pleistocene Epoch. It also represents significant geomorphic and physiographic features, such as a well exposed cross section through one of the world’s largest glaciotectonic complexes. It moreover provides a unique testimony of the advances of the young Baltic ice streams, including their extent, fast flow and dynamic.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Møns Klint property covers the complete deformational history of a glacial advance, from the un- deformated cliff sections of the southern end – by the light house – to the maximum deformated and up-trusted middle and northern sections. It displays several different glacial directions and bears witness to the super complex process of glacial mountain- and landscape building. The 6 km coastline of the cliffs is intact, with no sections missing or being inaccessible.

The Danish Nature Agency manages the access to and from the cliffs, and they provide trails in the forest for approaching the cliff side from above, as well as stairways to the beach. From the beach, the cliff vistas can be enjoyed from the bottom up, and fossils can be collected. Trails and stairways are located at the places providing the views of the highest scenic value, and they are, without exception, constructed so that the natural environment is not scarred by their presence.

Comparison with other similar properties

Glaciotectonic complexes are widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, due to the large impact of Pleistocene glaciers on landscape formation. Møns Klint represents an outstandingly large and spectacular example of such a complex, with a uniquely large and well exposed cross section that provides rare insight into the complex deformational process of glacial mountain building, including the direction, speed and impact of specific glacial advances.

In comparison with similar sites from the Northern Hemisphere, none have been found to be as scientifically significant as the Møns Klint complex, or to express the same spectacular visual qualities.

Nowhere else is the testimony of the glaciotectonic forces of the Weichselian glaciation, visible in such an intact, accessible and tangible physiographic manner as in these up thrusted beds of chalk, and their layers of black flint stones who, like pencil drawings, demonstrate the glaciers deformational style and impact.