This system characterises the landscape of the Dolomites in the form of a rocky massif with high relief energy and vertical walls which rises on the surrounding mild and undulated morphology. From a morphoneotectonic viewpoint, particular landforms are not found, apart from its considerable relief energy resulting from an uplift of about 1 mm/year still in progress to date. From a morphotectostatic viewpoint, several troughs and cuts in correspondence with fault lines, in some cases moderately open fractures, and basalt and andesite sills and dykes are found. Marmolada itself has a typical asymmetrical profile, with a steep slope to the south, in correspondence with the heads of the calcareous layers, and a mildly inclined plateau which, to the north, follows the attitude of the bedding planes (Fig. MP-13). The same situation is also found on Sasso Vernale, on Mt. La Banca and, with a SW-NE arranged crest line on Collaccio and Sasso di Valfredda. From a morpholithological viewpoint, the most striking contrast in the landscape is found between the calcareous and dolomite massifs and the gently sloping faces of the Ladinian volcanic rocks and the Werfen pelitic-arenaceous-marly rocks. In particular, along the western face of Mt. Vernel, a complex and diversified example of selective erosion can be observed, with steps, escarpments, reverse slopes, terraces etc. In this area, in fact, diverse rock types crop out: the variform Werfen Formation, the Anisian limestones, the Buchenstein Formation, the Marmolada Limestones and also Ladinian pyroclastic rocks. There are a few small karst cavities near Malga Ciapela and Falier Hut. The most important one is the cave of Pale del Menin, which stretches for over 60 m. Since the Marmolada massif is not or only slightly dolomitised, in particular along its south wall, it shows some typical landforms of surface karst corrosion and extensive concretions. From a morphoclimatic viewpoint, the most characterising features are linked to past and present glacialism. For example, the upper part of Val Franzedaz and the high cirques of Sasso Vernale and Sasso di Val Fredda, where small glaciers and glacio-nival systems still exist. The most striking geographic-physical element of this system, though, is the Marmolada Glacier, which is the largest in the Dolomites and is located on the northern side of the massif. Also the rocky step and picturesque waterfall of Val Ombretta, which flows from just beyond Malga Ombretta into the Val Franzedaz, are linked to glacial morphology. At the retreat of the glaciers some mass movements, with “glaciopressure” implications, were produced, especially on the northern face of Marmolada. The most considerable of these is found at the confluence between Rio di Cirelle and Torrent Avisio: in the Contrin valley, in correspondence with the ancient confluence of the glacial tongue originating from the SW slope of the Marmolada, passing between the Marmolada and Vernel peaks, and the glaciers moving northwards from Col Ombert and Cime Cadine, where the valley becomes narrower, a mass of landslide material broken away from the calcareous slope of the Collaccio can be observed. Also the landslide which broke off from Pizzo Guda and formed the terrace of Malga Ciapela is located at the convergence of several glacial tongues: those of Franzedas valley, Ombretta valley and Arei valley. The feet of the Marmolada walls and other mountain tops of the system are covered by talus cones and scree slopes. Also some alluvial fans are found, among which the largest one is found near Malga Ciapela.
Snow avalanches are a recurrent event, taking place mainly in spring, when thaw takes place, or in winter, when several snowfalls overlap each other. They produce typical avalanche tracks, as on the southern wall of Marmolada or talus cones, at the foot of the slopes. Some rock glaciers are located on Cima Uomo and Sasso di Valfredda (southern area of yhe System); some forms are probably still active. As previously stated, the most characteristic geodiversity physiographic element of the system is the Marmolada glacier, which is a typical example of slope glacier. In fact, it has no real tongue but it covers a mildly inclined surface, rimmed to the south by a sheer rock wall with considerable relief energy. The system shows also high extrinsic and intrinsic geodiversity from morphostructural and morphoclimatic point of view.