Upper Rhine Plain: Difference between revisions

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[[File:Oberrheinische Tiefebene 2006-09 Pfalz.jpg|thumb|center|700px|The Upper Rhine Plain, view from west to east. Front: a vineyard near [[Neustadt an der Weinstraße]], background: [[Mannheim]] (right: Mannheim Power Station, far north: the [[Odenwald]]]]
 
The '''Upper Rhine Plain''',<ref>{{Dickinson's Germany}}</ref> '''Rhine Rift Valley'''<ref>{{subst:Elkins' Germany}}</ref> or '''Upper Rhine Graben'''<ref name="Dèzes">{{cite journal|last=Dèzes|first=P.|coauthors=Schmid S.M. & Ziegler P.A.|year=2004|title=Evolution of the European Cenozoic Rift System: interaction of the Alpine and Pyrenean orogens with their foreland lithosphere|journal=[[Tectonophysics (journal)|Tectonophysics]]|volume=389|pages=1–33|doi=10.1016/j.tecto.2004.06.011|url=http://pages.unibas.ch/earth/tecto/research/dezes_ziegler.pdf|accessdate=June 3, 2010}}</ref> (German: ''Oberrheinische Tiefebene'' or ''Oberrheingraben'', French: ''Vallée du Rhin'') is a major [[rift]], about 350 km long and on average 50 km wide, between the cities of [[Frankfurt]]/[[Wiesbaden]] in the north and [[Basel]] in the south. Its southern section straddles the border between [[France]] and [[Germany]]. It forms part of the [[European Cenozoic Rift System]], which extends across central Europe. The Upper Rhine Graben formed during the [[Oligocene]] as a response to the evolution of the [[Alps]] to the south and remains active to the present day. Today, the Rhine Rift Valley forms a downfaulted trough through which the [[River Rhine]] flows. It is bounded to the west by the [[Vosges mountain range]] in France, and to the east by the [[Black Forest]] in western Germany.
 
==Formation==
 
To both the east and west of the Rhine Plain, two major hill ranges have formed that run the length of the basin. To the west, in France, these hills are known as the [[Vosges mountain range]] and in the east, in Germany, the hills comprise the [[Black Forest]]. These ranges exhume the same types of rocks in their cores, including deep crustal [[gneiss]]. Both ranges correspond to uplifts of more than 2,500 metres, much of which has since been eroded. This uplift has occurred because of the isostatic response associated with the formation of an extensional basin. As a consequence, the highest mountains exist immediately adjacent to the margin of the basin, and become increasingly low outwards. The boundaries between the hill ranges and the Rhine Graben are defined by major, [[normal fault]] zones.
 
The northern section of the Rhine GrabenPlain is equally framed by somewhat lower mountain ranges, the [[Palatinate Forest]] on the western and the [[Odenwald]] on the eastern side.
 
[[File:Rhine rift.png|thumb|250px|right|Rhine Graben (blue shades) between Basel and Frankfurt with adjoining mountain ranges (green to brown); colour coding according to digital elevation model]]