MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Valensole Plateau in Provence, France, rises some 300 to 400 meters above the surrounding river valleys and is divided in two by the river Asse. The plateau, constructed of alluvial deposits trapped in a basin, is a mollassic formation formed in the past 20 million years of clays, pebbles and cobbles that originated in the Alps and were brought down by glaciers and rivers. The deposits are often size graded, like this outcrop near the top of the plateau, with a deep bed of smoothed pebbles and small cobbles. Above that is a clay band followed by a further shallow bed of pebbles, just below the topsoil. In some areas the material has consolidated into a conglomerate rock.
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