Germany Structure and Land Shapes

Looking at a physical map of Germany, which also has the borders of the state marked, we immediately see that its territory partly occupies three main morphological regions, which are: the peripheral ranges of the northern Alps, between Lake Constance and the Salzach, of which the Swabian-Bavarian subalpine level is closely related, the Middle Mountains of Germany, the so-called northern lowland. And it may also be observed that, on the whole, the soil of Germany rises from the north towards the south, but a grave mistake would be to believe that it is uniformly degrading from the southern mountains to the northern seas. At noon, in the Alps, is the highest point of Germanic soil (Zugspitze, 2964 m.) And along the coast there are drained soils lower than the level of the North Sea, but the passage between these extreme heights does not happen without jumps, and these are anything but negligible. In fact, between the Alps and the Danube lies the Swabian-Bavarian plateau, whose lowest point, near Passau, is at 290 m. and whose average height is, in round figures, just 500 msm. To the N. of the Danube rise the Middle Mountains of Germany where basins and valleys drop even below 100 msm; but the mountains that limit them sometimes measure heights even higher than 1000 m., as will be seen further on. the Middle Mountains of Germany rise from the Danube, where basins and valleys also drop below 100 meters above sea level; but the mountains that limit them sometimes measure heights even higher than 1000 m., as will be seen further on. the Middle Mountains of Germany rise from the Danube, where basins and valleys also drop below 100 meters above sea level; but the mountains that limit them sometimes measure heights even higher than 1000 m., as will be seen further on.

According to the Ule, the average height of the whole area of ​​the Middle Mountains of Germany can be estimated at 300 m. at most, which is also the maximum altitude of the northern part, which as a whole is the lowest in Germany. In fact, its average height must not be far from 50 m: only some points of the highest plateaus, such as in Pomerania, East Prussia, Fläming, Lüneburg Heath, exceed 150 m. or even the 300.

On the whole, the vast territory of Germany presents unity in variety: a variety of altimetric conditions and terrain shapes, on which the differences in landscape depend. At noon, the German Alps, divided into the Allgäu Alps, the Bavarian Alps and the Salzburg Alps, have rugged shapes ending in crests and pinnacles, sometimes covered with persistent snow, deep valleys and dense woods reflected in the gems of the lakes. Landscape that is due to the tertiary corrugation that generated the Alpine system, to the recent mighty uplift and to the action of the Quaternary glaciers. But the Alps form for us a region that is strictly foreign to Germany and this is not the place to spread ourselves (see alps ; bavaria). The subalpine shelf, between the Alps and the Danube (see bavaria), alluvial downstream (to the North.), morainic upstream (to the South.), is largely formed by transport materials from different periods of the Quaternary, as can be seen from what has been said above, and towards the Danube from hills of tertiary rocks. In the middle part of Germany, other mountains, but of completely different shapes compared to the Alps, of medium height and of different and more complicated origins: they are the Medium Mountains (Deutsches Mittelgebirge) where the valleys usually have so gently sloping walls that the man was able to cultivate them and the shapes of the reliefs, although varied, are gentle and terminate at the top with marshy open spaces and in slightly prominent domes. These aspects are repeated from the Giant Mountains to the Thuringian Forest and the Black Forest. In the Swabian-Bavarian subalpine shelf and in the northern lowland the undulating forms predominate over the truly flat ones; this is mainly due to the glaciations; the aspects are uniform and the eye sweeps over vast horizons.

Despite the unity of the landscape over vast expanses, the forms of the soil are very varied and the high and depressed parts, mountains and basins alternate frequently. This especially in the Middle Mountains. By observing the physical map, at first it can be judged that the reliefs are distributed without any apparent order. But a little careful examination makes it clear that they are arranged in well-defined directions. The Vosges and the Harz, the Black Forest and the Odenwald, the Steigerwald and the Jura of Franconia are directed from S. to N. (NNE.-SSW.) And this is called the Altorenan direction. Instead the Swabian Jura is directed by SO. NE. such as the Schistosi Mountains of the Rhine and the Ore Mountains, and this is called the direction of the Herzegebirge or also varisca, because this is the direction of the folds of that ancient mountain system. In turn, the Harz, the Thuringian Forest, the Franconian Forest, the Sudetenland and the Bohemian and Bavarian Forest are headed by SE. to NW, and this is called Hercinian, or Sudetic direction. The nodes where these directions intersect are formed by modest reliefs and without a specific axis, such as the Fichtelgebirge and the Vogtland between the Franconian Forest and the Ore Mountains, or there are interposed mountains and hills, in which no prevailing direction can be discerned (Heights of Hesse between the Schistose mountains of the Rhine, the Harz and the Thuringian Forest).

To such a disposition of the relief of middle Germany corresponds that of the great northern lowland. Many times we hear that Northern Germany is a “lowland”; in reality this term is mainly suited to the NW part, that is to the stretch located to the west of the Lüneburg moor, while the rest is occupied by low hills and shelves. In the shelf that accompanies the Baltic coast the direction of the Ore Mountains in Pomerania is repeated, the Hercinian one in Mecklenburg, the Altorenan one in Schleswig. On the shelves that, starting from the Silesian-Polish one, flank the Elbe (Fläming, Lüneburg Heath) the Hercinian direction prevails. This state, which is the present, resulted from long and complicated events, of which they were an essential part, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the paleozoic orogenic corrugation and sea invasions (or, as geologists say, marine transgressions) and new displacement movements. The corrugation took place in the Carbonic period, which was an era of great tectonic movements and volcanic activity: in fact, the soils of the immediately subsequent period, permic, are not folded and are in stratigraphic discord with the oldest ones. The carbonic folding was intense: in middle Europe it forms a large area from France to Silesia; it must have been really powerful (see above). Was called Varisco dal Suess, Ercinian from the French.

The weathering and erosion, and perhaps the permic glaciers, leveled it and the rivers of that time filled the depressed parts, where the products of the denudation of those ancient mountains (clastic rocks of Carbonico and Rotliegende) have been preserved ; the intense volcanic activity brought porphyry and melafiri to the surface. The history of the destruction of the various mountains cannot be reconstructed in detail, but the position ratios of the more recent layers allow us to recognize the final form which this destruction led to. Instead of the mountains there remained only humble hills, very varied in shapes, on which, up to the most ancient Tertiary in relation to the submersions and emersions suffered, continental and marine formations were deposited and these facies different, as can be seen in the previous paragraph, according to the variations in depth of the sea. During this very long time, only in limited spaces, in the hills of the Weser, from the Ems to the northern spurs of the Harz, and in the western Sudetenland there were folds (between the Jurassic and the Cretaceous), while the rest of Germany did not suffer dislocations until to the Tertiary sector. When the Alpine folds were formed in this era, the area of ​​present-day Germany was broken by fractures, moving along which the resulting tabular clods, partly materialized by mountain remnants vary, partly by sediments deposited after the destruction of the latter, constituted the present Middle Mountains of Germany to the N. of the Danube: the high clods formed the massifs, those that remained or descended to a lower level the basin-like lowlands interposed to the massifs themselves. The movement also took place in the area of ​​the present lowland, that is, the tabular plates also formed the bottom of that lining of Quaternary continental formations that constitutes the northern lowland. This bottom, together with the lowlands of southern England, northern France, Denmark and southern Sweden, represents the emerged part of a great depression which, from the Atlantic to the Baltic, forms the basin of those shallow seas. The depressed part that lies above the present sea level (northern Germany), is separated from the Middle Mountains by a fracture which marks the N margin with the inlets penetrating towards S., of Cologne,

Since the sediments deposited on the remains of the ancient varisco system were many, that the tubular plates formed massifs and lowlands and that phonolithic basalts and trachytes erupted through the fractures, the result was a very large variety of aspects of the new mountains thus formed, of the which, however, to explain the forms, it is necessary to take into account the incessant work of meteoric decay and running waters. The reliefs were still demolished, the hollow forms filled. Thus, before the middle of the tertiary era, a new form emerged, not very different from the one that had the residue of the Varisce mountains, that is, a new penepian: a more or less undulating hilly complex, furrowed by wide valleys. This is the truncation surface Germany, as Braun called it, whose formation during the tertiary era did not take place simultaneously in all parts and probably resulted from several independent surfaces, juxtaposed and more or less leveled. While the truncation surface had a uniform appearance in the main lines (there were only differences in altimetry and amplitude), a new tectonic movement occurred in the Quaternary period, was the cause of the current types of landscape which are very varied. The lifting of the clods caused increases in the slope and erosive power of the running waters. In proportion to the more or less favorable conditions that occurred to erosion, the very various rocks making up the mountains were removed and the variety of shapes that the present-day mountains of middle Germany have was born. In the sinking lowlands themselves there is a variety of forms; that of Thuringia is hilly, that of the Germanic high Rhine is occupied by an alluvial plain that rests on very deep tertiary sediments, narrow within the step fractures, parallel to it, which make up the Vosges and the Black Forest.

The higher the clods were, the more intense was their denudation, so that, according to the degree of lifting and demolition, the surface is formed now by more recent layers, now by older layers: so in the strong uplift of the Vosges (1423 m.) And of the Black Forest (1493 m.) The ancient crystalline rocks (granites and gneis) appear, while descending from the external side of both the one and the other chain. you meet less and less ancient stratifications, the further you get away from the Rhine: due to the different resistance of the rocks that compose them, these side plates are carved by terraces, flowing between which the Main and the Neckar shaped basin bases in the rocks less resistant, while the hard Jurassic limestones rise to form the Alb, that is the Swabian-Franconian Jura. Towards the Danube, the Jurassic limestones disappear under the floods of the subalpine shelf. At E. lies the Bohemian massif made up of crystalline schists, gneisses and granites, with soft and rounded shapes. It is framed by the Bohemian-Bavarian Forest (1458 m.), The Fichtelgebirge (Schneeberg, 1051 m.), The Ore Mountains (1213 meters), the Sudetenland with the Giant Mountains (Schneekoppe 1603 m., Which is the highest point of the Middle Mountains of Germany).

In western Germany rise the Mt. Schistosi Renani, formed by the remains of the varisco folding, but so worn that the less ancient rocks were removed and they consist of Paleozoic rocks. They form plateaus on 500 m., Only here and there surpassed by more resistant parts that reach a maximum of 880 m. Towards SE, the Schistosi Mountains descend rapidly according to a direct fracture from the NE. to SW.

In the central part of middle Germany the many intersecting fractures form a large number of small tabular plates at different level positions. The Hessian lowland continues the Altorenano sinking: it is followed by the Hessian mountains with the Vogelsberg (772 m.) Of volcanic origin, mainly arenaceous, and the Rhön (950 m.); then the Mounts of Thuringia, that is the forest of the same name (984). the Franconian Forest (794 m.) and the Harz (1142 m.), raised clods and therefore also formed by ancient rocks (crystalline and paleozoic schists); between the Thuringian Forest and the Harz, the Thuringian Basin extends, whose structure consists of small plates of secondary rocks, sunk and arranged in the Hercinian direction; towards NO. the hills of the Weser formed by a faint wrinkle.

According to Collegesanduniversitiesinusa, the northern lowland is an accumulation region which in comparison with the average Germany owes its lower level to the fact that it remained free from the uplift that Western Europe underwent by the middle Tertiary: as mentioned in the previous paragraph, it was totally invaded by the glacier Scandinavian who placed his enormous terminal and deep moraines there. The moraines are well preserved especially in N., and there are lakes and peat bogs in between. These are the Lagosi Shelves of the Baltic (Baltische HöhenrückenSeeplatten) which form like a belt around the Baltic coast, from Schleswig-Holstein to Mecklenburg and Pomerania and then to West and East Prussia. This area is followed by another, from which the glacier has retreated for a longer time and therefore the moraines present mitigated forms; there is no shortage of lakes and large natural channels dug by the melting waters of the Quaternary glacier (Urstromtäler). Between which, at noon, sandy shelves dressed in heaths and pine forests are interposed (Lüneburg Heath, Altmark, Fläming, Lower Lusatia, Lower Silesian hills).

The great furrows, or canals, dug by the ablation waters, are five and are called: Breslau-Hanover canal; Glogau-Baruth canal; Warsaw-Berlin channel; Thorn-Eberswalde canal; Pomeranian canal. On their importance as sites of current river courses, see the paragraph Hydrography. Finally, in the lowland, some completely flat territories are worth noting: the marshy region of NW, the plains of Leipzig and Silesia (the so-called gulfs). The Lowland ends on the two seas, the North and the Baltic, with a coastal area which, in general, has the characteristics of submerged coasts. The sea has penetrated into the mouths of rivers and most of them have become estuarî, forden and bödden. But the sea is not very deep there and at a certain distance from the shore they form sandbars, coastlines, arrows that separate from the sea lagoons and sandy and muddy bottoms discovered in the ebb. The coastal forms of abrasion with rocky banks are exceptions (Helgoland, Rügen, Samland).

Germany Structure and Land Shapes

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