Fluvial sediments provide valuable records of Plio-/Pleistocene palaeo-climate. Especially large streams with an almost continent-wide catchment reflect sensitively the response of continental ecosystems to climate change. In the northern Upper Rhine Graben near Heidelberg, up to several hundreds of meters of fluvial clastics accumulated during the late Pliocene and Pleistocene. The Heidelberg depocenter is fed not only by material eroded in the nearby highlands (Vosges, Black Forest, Palatinate Forest) and by important regional tributaries (river Neckar), but essentially also by sediments from the alpine catchment of the Rhine. The composition of the sediments therefore reflects the onset of the alpine glaciation and the glacial history of the Alps, too (Hagedorn & Boenigk 2008, Preusser 2008).
In the frame of a scientific bundle supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under participation of LIAG and the Universities Bayreuth, Bonn and Mainz a high-resolution palaeomagnetic polarity stratigraphy combined with detailed rock magnetic studies will be performed to obtain a chronostratigraphic framework and to reconstruct the regional palaeoclimate during the Plio-/ Pleistocene. Therefore the Heidelberg depocenter as the most important sedimentary trap in the northern Upper Rhine-Graben provides favourable conditions. The ongoing research is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG RO2170/8-1; HA 2193/10-1).
Dr. Ulrich Hambach (University of Bayreuth)
(German Research Foundation)