Jura Mountains

Jura Mountains
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 as defined by Johann Gottfried Ebel is located in France, Switzerland, and Germany.[1]

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 name “Jura” is derived from juria, a latinized form of a Celtic stem jor- "forest".[2][3][4] 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 epoch: the Malm, Dogger, and Lias (parts of the Jurassic 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 (5,640 ft).


Lac de Joux, the largest lake in the range
Fort de Joux, a famous castle in French Jura

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.

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. Fort de Joux is situated on a natural rock outcropping.


  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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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jura Mountains — /joor euh/; Fr. /zhyuu rddann / a mountain range in W central Europe, between France and Switzerland, extending from the Rhine to the Rhone. Highest peak, Crêt de la Neige, 5654 ft. (1723 m). Also called Jura. * * * Mountain range, central Europe …   Universalium

  • Jura Mountains — /dʒʊərə ˈmaʊntənz/ (say joouhruh mowntuhnz) plural noun a mountain range between France and Switzerland, extending from the Rhine to the Rhone. Highest peak, Crêt de la Neige, 1723 m. Also, the Jura …   Australian English dictionary

  • Jura Mountains — /joor euh/; Fr. /zhyuu rddann / a mountain range in W central Europe, between France and Switzerland, extending from the Rhine to the Rhone. Highest peak, Crêt de la Neige, 5654 ft. (1723 m). Also called Jura …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jura Mountains — mtn. range, E France and W Switzerland …   Webster's Gazetteer

  • Jura (cadena montañosa) — Jura Imagen por satélite de los montes Jura …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jura wine — Jura wine, is French wine produced in the Jura département . Located between Burgundy and Switzerland, this cool climate wine region produces wines with some similarity to Burgundy and Swiss wine. Jura wines are distinctive and unusual wines, the …   Wikipedia

  • Jura — Jura1 [joor′ə] n. the the Jurassic Period or its rocks Jura2 [joor′ə] 1. canton in W Switzerland: 323 sq mi (837 sq km); pop. 69,000 2. mountain range along the Swiss French border: highest peak, 5,652 ft (1,723 m): also called Jura Mountains …   English World dictionary

  • Jura (department) — For other places with the same name, see Jura (disambiguation). Not to be confused with the Swiss Canton of Jura. Jura   Department   …   Wikipedia

  • Jura — Places named Jura include:*Jura, Scotland, Scottish island, in the Inner Hebrides *Jura mountains, on the French Swiss German border **Franconian Jura, the part of the Jura mountains in South Eastern Germany *Jura (department), a department in… …   Wikipedia

  • Jura — /joor euh/; Fr. /zhyuu rddann /, n. 1. a department in E France. 238,856; 1952 sq. mi. (5055 sq. km). Cap.: Lons le Saunier. 2. See Jura Mountains. * * * ▪ canton, Switzerland       canton, northwestern Switzerland, comprising the folded Jura… …   Universalium

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