Heidelberg Basin

Drilling activity at the location Heidelberg UniNord 2.

Currently the Plio- / Pleistocene sediment sequences of the Heidelberg Basin are studied by deep core drillings at three different locations. Sedimentation in this area is controlled by tectonics and climate changes, e.g. the palaeo-climate of the Alps. Therefore, the drilled sediment sequences enable a direct correlation with the glacial evolution in the Alpine region and facilitate the correlation of the glacial evolution in the Alpine region with that of northern Europe. From that point of view the sediment archive of the Heidelberg Basin is of supra-regional relevance.

The Heidelberg Basin hosts the thickest and most continuous succession of Plio- / Pleistocene sediments in the Upper Rhine Graben. New geophysical investigations, but also existing geological /geophysical data suggest that the succession is more or less free of large disconformities concerning Miocene, Pleistocene, and Pleistocene strata. Within the city of Heidelberg the 1022 m deep Radium Sol Therme drilling was realised between 1913 and 1918. The original interpretation estimated a thickness of 400 m Quaternary deposits, whereas in the following years values between 386 m and > 1000 m were published. 

Sedimentation is mainly controlled by the subsidence of the Upper Rhine Graben, especially the Heidelberg Basin, taking place more or less continuously since 40 Mio years. In more detail the sediment input is controlled by three different geosystems: 

  • the supra regional geosystem Alps – Upper Rhine Graben
  • the regional geosystem highlands (Black Forest, Vosges) – Upper Rhine Graben , and
  • the local geosystem of the River Neckar.

In the geosystem Alps – Upper Rhine Graben the southern part of the Upper Rhine Graben acts as the major sediment trap. But sands and fine grained material are transported even further towards north, partly as far as the North Sea. Especially the alpine signature of the sediments serves as petrographic marker for the envisaged north-south correlation. But the majority of the sediments deposited in the Heidelberg Basin originated from the regional and local geosystems, e.g. the adjacent highlands.   


Projects sponsored by the German Research Foundation

The following projects are currently sponsored by the German Research Foundation: