The vast panoramic landscape before us is the result of a complex geological history.
We can break it down into four distinct successive geological areas or zones.
In the foreground, the syncline, or sinking folds, of La Pène stand out. This syncline, with a core of marl and limestone from the Cretaceous period and the Oligocene period, was "badly mauled, disfigured" by Alpine tectonics, as shown by the presence of elements of tithonic limestone which ensure its northern termination or conclusion: Grand-Adroit mountain and Saint-Laurent mountain. On this syncline, the terrain of Trainon mountain range, made up of bedrock from the Triassic period and Lias period, has slid abnormally. These lands belong to the Valavoire formation, a formation qualified as parautochthonous (non-indigenous land), situated between the Digne geological-nappe, or geological thrust-sheet, and the autochthonous (indigenous land), and essentially made up of Lower Jurassic period rocks. Two important geological-rifts mark this landscape:
- the Aix Fault-Line (direction, north 20°), which guides the course of the river Sasse towards Clamensane,
- the Rochers de Hongrie Fault-Line (north 140°) which leads to the overlapping of the Valavoire ridge and then affects the Rochers de Hongrie anticline, or rising folds.
In the second distinct geological area or zone, a range of very eroded native terrains is visible. This area is dominated to the north of the village of Motte du Caire by the summit of Malaup, which is made up of Secondary Era terrain belonging to the Digne geological-nappe, or geological thrust-sheet. In the third distinct geological area, the summits of Dévoluy and Baronnies form a homogeneous area made up of large east/west folds. Erosion has created superb perched synclines, or sinking folds, in this area: the Saint-Genis and Aujour synclines. Finally, in the background, the high peaks of the Écrins mountain range appear.