Martell valley is a southern tributary valley of the Vinschgau; the surrounding mountains belong to the Ortler-Cevedale group (GALOS ET AL. 2015). Geologically, the valley forms part of the Ortler-Campo crystalline massif; the upper part of the valley is dominated by quarz phyllites with shales, marble and gneisses (Mair et al. 2007; Autonomous Province Bolzano 2010). The inner alpine climate in the subalpine and alpine belt is characterised by c. 1000-1500 mm/a of precipitation, with maxima in early summer and late autumn. Vegetation consists of spruce forests up to about 1700 m a.s.l. and larch and stone pine forests at elevations higher than 1800 m. The timberline is located at 2200-2300 m, with a dwarf shrub belt above. The soil types found in the area are podsolised cambisols, podsols, and podsolised raw soils (Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol 2010).
The study area includes the catchment of the river Plima that enters the Zufritt lake at c. 1860 m a.m.s.l. The Monte Cevedale (3760 m) is the highest peak of the area, the topographic relief amounts to c. 1900 m. Approximately 16% of the area are glaciated. The SEHAG project has installed a streamgauge at 2300 m a.m.s.l.