Upper Rhine Plain: Difference between revisions

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The '''Upper Rhine Plain''',<ref>{{Dickinson's Germany}}</ref> '''Rhine Rift Valley'''<ref name="Elkins" /> or '''Upper Rhine Graben'''<ref name="Dèzes">{{cite journal|last=Dèzes|first=P.|author2=Schmid S.M.|author3=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|issue=1–2|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|bibcode=2004Tectp.389....1D|url-status=dead|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20110927151514/http://pages.unibas.ch/earth/tecto/research/dezes_ziegler.pdf|archivedate=September 27, 2011}}</ref> ([[German language|German]]: ''Oberrheinische Tiefebene'', ''Oberrheinisches Tiefland'' or ''Oberrheingraben'', [[French language|French]]: ''Vallée du Rhin'') is a major [[rift]], about {{convert|350|km|mi|adj=mid|-long}} and on average {{convert|50|km|mi|adj=mid|-wide}}, between [[Basel]] in the south and the cities of [[Frankfurt]]/[[Wiesbaden]] in the north. 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.
{{wide image|Oberrheinische Tiefebene 2006-09 Pfalz.jpg|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]]||right}}
[[Image:rhinegrabencross.jpg|thumb|250px|right|Schematic cross-section of the Rhine Rift Valley.]]
The Upper Rhine Plain was formed during the Early [[Cenozoic]] era, during the Late [[Eocene]] epoch. At this time, the [[Alpine Orogeny]], the major mountain building event that was to produce the [[Alps]], was in its early stages. The Alps were formed because the continents of Europe and Africa collided. It is thought that because the collision was '''irregular''', the initial contact between the two continents resulted in the formation of dilational (extensional) structures in the [[foreland basin]] to the north of the Alps.<ref>Sengor, A.M.C. 1976. "Collision of irregular continental margins: Implications for foreland deformation of Alpine-type orogens", ''Geology'', 4, 779-782779–782.</ref> The result was substantial crustal thinning, forming a major extensional ''[[graben]]'' and causing isolated volcanic activity. The '''stretch factor''' is estimated to be ~2.
===Rift flank uplift===
==Upper Rhine aquifer==
Located below the plain, the Upper Rhine [[aquifer]] - one of the largest in Europe - holds an estimated {{convert|450,000|km3|mi3|abbr=on}} of fresh water and supplies some 3 million people in France and Germany, supplying 75% of their drinking water and 50% of the water used by industry.<ref name=iwra-2008>[http://www.iwra.org/congress/2008/resource/authors/abs483_article.pdf Assessing the benefits of different groundwater protection levels: results and lessons learnt from a contingent valuation survey in the Upper Rhine valley aquifer, France], S Aulong & JD Rinaudo, IWRA 13th World Water Congress, published 2008-01-09, accessed 2011-04-13</ref> Since the 1970s it has suffered increasingly serious pollution from [[nitrate]]s, [[pesticide]]s, [[chloride]] and [[Volatile organic compound|VOCs]].<ref name=iwra-2008 />
== Research ==