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Berlin Environmental Atlas

01.17 Geological Outline (Edition 2013)

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Map Description

Today’s surface formations in Berlin were largely shaped by the Weichselian Glaciation, which has also marked the city morphologically (Fig. 4).

Figure 4
Fig. 4: Morphological outline of Berlin (Environmental Atlas Map 01.08 Terrain Elevation, 2010 edition)

In terms of natural areas, the city appears to be divided into three parts, the Barnim Plateau in the north, the Teltow Plateau, together with the Nauen Plate in the South, and the morphologically lower lying Warsaw-Berlin Glacial Spillway (Fig. 5). The geomorphological image is supplemented by the low-lying areas of the Panke Valley and the Havel Chain of Lakes.

Figure 5
Fig. 5: Natural spatial/geomorphological divisions of Berlin

The Barnim Plateau, the ground moraine plate from the Weichselian Glaciation, is located in the northern part of Berlin. Here, the ground moraine and the Weichselian meltwater sands alternate in characterizing the surface. This ground moraine largely directly covers the older ground moraine from the Saalian Glaciation. However, meltwater sands which separate these two ground moraines are also very widespread.

In the Northeast, the Plateau is crossed by the valley of the Panke, with its valley sand deposits, which runs roughly north-northeast to south-southwest. In the village of Lübars in the borough of Reinickendorf, there is a small area in which the tertiary rupelton clay is close to the surface, due to salt-tectonic processes; otherwise, this clay occurs only at greater depths of approx. 150 to 200 m below the surface. Starting in the mid-19th century, this clay was quarried in an opencast process, and baked into bricks in a circular kiln built on-site. Such famous buildings as Berlin’s Red City Hall and the Reinickendorf Borough Hall were built in part with these bricks. After the quarry was closed, groundwater flowed into the pit, creating a lake which is today used as a swimming facility.

The Warsaw Berlin Glacial Spillway is characterized particularly by the accretion of glaciofluvial or fluvial sand and outwash gravel of great thickness – up to 50 m; it passes through the city from east to west, crossing the inner-city area. At some places, saltation load horizons and glacial till residues were deposited (Assmann 1957). Locally, these valley sands are covered by younger Holocene sediments (sands, peats and gyttjas mixed with organic material, as well as dunes) of various thicknesses, some very great.

The southern area is occupied by the Teltow Plateau, and west of the Havel by the Nauen Plate, both of which are also ground moraine plates from the Weichselian Glaciation. In the eastern part of the Teltow Plateau, the ground moraine and meltwater sands from the Weichselian glaciation alternate in characterizing the surface. This ground moraine largely directly covers the older ground moraine from the Saalian Glaciation. However, meltwater sands which separate these two ground moraines are also very widespread. The western part is largely characterized by very thick meltwater sand sequences. The Nauen Plate consists in approximately equal parts of meltwater sands and ground moraine.

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