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 is located in France, Switzerland, and Germany.

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.

In Switzerland, the range covers the western border with France in the cantons of Basel, Solothurn, Jura, Bern, Neuchâtel, and Vaud. The Swiss Jura has been industrialized since the 18th century and was a major center of the watch-making industry. Therefore, there are relatively large cities at very high altitudes, such as La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, and Sainte-Croix. This area has had a marked decline in population since about 1960. The 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.


The range is being continually built up and decreasing in size by mountain building, 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 , although previously it was believed to be . This could be caused by constant Tectonic Plate movements making such mountain ranges go higher.


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 like the Creux du Van, lookout peaks such as the Chasseral and caves such as the Grottes de l'Orbe.



  • 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.

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