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Berlin Environmental Atlas

02.12 Groundwater Levels of the Main Aquifer and Panke Valley Aquifer (Edition 2017)

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Morphology, Geology and Hydrogeology

The present relief of the earth's surface in Berlin was predominantly the result of the Weichselian glaciation, the most recent of the three great quaternary inland glaciations, which has determined the morphology of the city (Fig. 5): the low-lying Warsaw-Berlin Glacial Spillway with its Panke Valley branch, which consists predominantly of sandy and gravelly deposits; the neighbouring Barnim Plateau to the north; and the Teltow Plateau with the Nauen Plate to the south. Both plateaus are covered in large parts by the thick glacial till and boulder clay of the ground moraines (Fig. 6). The morphological appearance is supplemented by the depression of the Havel chain of lakes (Figs. 5 and 6). For more on the geology, see Limberg & Sonntag (2013) and the Geological Outline (Map 01.17).

Figure 5
Fig. 5: Morphological Outline Map of Berlin

Figure 6
Fig. 6: Geological Outline Map of Berlin

The loose sediments dating from the quaternary and tertiary and averaging approx. 150 m in thickness, whose pore space is often filled with groundwater almost up to the terrain surface, are of special significance for the water supply and for the foundations of buildings. They form the freshwater stock from which Berlin draws all the water for the public water supply. Numerous waterworks and other pumping facilities have lowered the groundwater in Berlin, for more than 100 years in some areas.
The tertiary rupelium layer at a depth of 150 to 200 m is about 80 m thick, and constitutes a hydraulic barrier against the deeper saltwater tier (Fig. 7).

Figure 7 - click to enlarge (68 KB)
Fig. 7: Schematical Hydrogeological Cross-Section of Berlin from South to North

Due to the alternation of aquifers (green, blue, brown and yellow in Fig. 7) and aquitards (grey in Fig. 7), the freshwater stock in the Berlin area is broken down into four separate hydraulic aquifers (Limberg, Thierbach 2002). The second aquifer – largely a Saale-Glaciation-era aquifer – is known as the Main Aquifer, since it supplies the predominant share of the public water supply. The fifth aquifer is in the saltwater tier under the rupelium.

The groundwater conditions of the Main Aquifer (Aquifer 2) are shown in the groundwater contour map in violet; in the Panke Valley Aquifer (Aquifer 1) in the north-western area of the Barnim Plateau, they are shown in blue. Here, the Panke Valley Aquifer is situated above the Main Groundwater Aquifer, separated from it by the glacial till of the ground moraine (Figs. 7 and 8).

Figure 8
Fig. 8: The unconfined Panke Valley Aquifer (Aquifer 1) in the north-western area of the Barnim Plateau is situated above the Main Aquifer (Aquifer 2), which is confined in this area

In the north-western area of the Barnim Plateau, the ground moraines are so thick that no main groundwater aquifer exists, or occurs only in isolated places, with a thickness of a few meters. For those parts of the Berlin city area, no groundwater contours can be shown.

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