3D-modelling of the Quaternary in the northern Upper Rhine Graben, Germany

Rouwen Lehné1, Christian Hoselmann2, Andreas Hoppe1, Heiner Heggemann2
1 TU Darmstadt, Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, Fachgebiet Geo-Ressourcen & Geo-Risiken, Schnittspahnstraße 9, 64287 Darmstadt
2 Hessisches Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie, Rheingaustraße 186, 65203 Wiesbaden

V 7.1 in Freie Themen

19.09.2012, 08:30-08:50, H8


The Rhine-Main area belongs to the economically most dynamic regions in Europe. It is located in a Cenozoic sediment basin which can be subdivided in the Upper Rhine Graben (URG), the Mainz Basin, the Lower Main Plain as well as the Hanau Seligenstadt Basin.

The development of the metropolitan region, in the past and in the future, is strongly dependent on the availability and usability of geo-resources which are provided by or hosted in Tertiary and Quaternary sediments, such as water and raw materials.

To support successful and sustainable use of the near surface area this project, a co-operation between Darmstadt University of Technology and the Hessian Agency for Environment and Geology (HLUG), intends to model the Quaternary geo-architecture of the northern Upper Rhine Graben (URG) and derive an attributed 3D geological model for manifold purposes.

The project area covers almost 1,500 km² and is bounded by the cities Frankfurt in the north as well as Mannheim in the south.  

Geologically the area is dominated by tectonic stresses which are related to the Alpine orogenesis and lead to the development of the URG from the Eocene on. Subsidence caused the accumulation of vast Tertiary deposits with thicknesses of up to 3,000 m as well as Quaternary sediments with thicknesses up to 400 m in the Heidelberg Basin (Hoselmann 2008). The Quaternary sediments consist of sand/gravel deposits which alternate with clay/silt layers and built of the Upper Rhine Graben aquifer. Consequently it is common to subdivide the deposits into hydrogeological units (HGK 1999). However, a new lithostratigraphical approach for the northern Upper Rhine Graben transfers hydrogeological units into 4 Formations, i.e. Iffezheim-, Viernheim-, Ludwigshafen-, and Mannheim-Formation (www.bgr.bund.de/litholex).

The varying depth level of the Base Quaternary is assumed to be caused by both tectonics and climate changes. Previous works (e.g. Bartz, 1974) show a steady rise of the base Quaternary from East to West.

Outcomes of this project indicate, based on 15,421 wells, provided by the Hessian Agency for Environment and Geology, a different geometry of the base Quaternary. Both well analysis and reports/metadata of seismic surveys reveal (1) a significantly lower level of the base Quaternary in the western part of the project area, (2) a westwards tilting of the base Quaternary and (3) the subdivision of the accumulation area into different homogeneity regions, caused by several minor faults which are considered as recent/subrecent active (e.g. Haimberger et al. 2005, Peters & Van Balen 2007).



Bartz, J. (1974): Die Mächtigkeit des Quartärs im Oberrheingraben. – In: Illies, J.H. & Fuchs, K. (eds.): Approaches to Taphrogenesis, Inter-Union Commission on Geodynamics, Scientific report No. 8: 78-87; Stuttgart (Schweizerbart).

Haimberger, A., Hoppe, A. & Schäfer, A. (2005): High-resolution seismic survey on the Rhine River in the northern Upper Rhine Graben. – International Journal of Earth Sciences, 94: 657–668, Heidelberg.

HGK (1999): Hydrogeologische Kartierung und Grundwasserbewirtschaftung   Rhein-Neckar   Raum.  Fortschreibung 1983-1999. – Ministerium  für Umwelt und Verkehr Baden Württemberg, Hessisches Ministerium für Umwelt,  Landwirtschaft und Forsten,  Ministerium für Umwelt und Forsten Rheinland-Pfalz, 155 p., Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Mainz.

Hoselmann, C. (2008): The Pliocene and Pleistocene fluvial evolution in the northern Upper Rhine Graben based on results of the reasearch borehole at Viernheim (Hessen, Germany). – Quaternary Science Journal (Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart), 57/3-4: 286 – 315.

Peters, G. & Van Balen, R. T. (2007): Tectonic geomorphology of the northern Upper Rhine Graben, Germany. – Global Planetary Change, 58: 310-334.


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Letzte Änderung 25.07.2012