South German Scarplands

Süddeutsche Schichtstufenlandschaft

The South German Scarplands extent over most of southern Germany, from the Main River to the southern rim of the RegionSwabian Jura (Schwäbische Alb) Rhine graben to the eastern rim of the RegionFrankian Jura (Fränkische Alb). The geological structure of this area produced a number of successive escarments.

In southern Germany, nearly horizontal layers of sediments with a slope of only 3° cover the whole area. All harder layers of a certain thickness form escarpents, with the steep side looking to the north and northeast. As the slope is very low, the escarments look like cliffs, but a view on a map, especially a geologic map, shows that they really are escarpments.

Here is a list of the most important hard layers, and the geographic name of the corresponding plateau:

  1. the Lower Muschelkalk and the Bauland,
  2. the Upper Muschelkalk and the Gäuland,
  3. the Schilfsandstein in the Keuper,
  4. the Kieselsandstein in the Keuper and the Virngrund,
  5. the Stubensandstein in the Keuper and the Schönbuch,
  6. the limestones of the Lower Lias and the Filder plain,
  7. the Eisensandstein (iron sand stone) in the Dogger forms only a very small escarpment at the foot of the much bigger Albtrauf,
  8. the Massenkalk of the Malm (Weißer Jura) forms the famous Albtrauf, an Escarment of up to 400 m height. This cliff is the northern rim of the RegionSwabian Jura (Schwäbische Alb).

The escarments started to form in Cretaceous times, and since then the weathering and erosion keeps them moving. The rim of the RegionSwabian Jura moves to the south, the rim of the RegionFrankian Jura to the South East. They started as cliffs, but tectonic movements in the pliocene, caused by the formation of the Alps, made them escarpments.

The movement of the rim is proven by so called Zeugenberge (witness mountains). These are mountains, which once were part of the plateau, but they "survived" the weathering because of geographical and geological reasons. Famous "Zeugenberge" are

Only a few of the escarpments consist of limestone, but those are karstified. This are