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Soils and palaeosols on the Swiss Plateau in the area of the former Rhone-Aare-glacier

English title Soils and palaeosols on the Swiss Plateau in the area of the former Rhone-Aare-glacier
Applicant Veit Heinz
Number 149124
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Geomorphology
Start/End 01.07.2014 - 30.06.2016
Approved amount 200'380.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Geomorphology
Pedology

Keywords (8)

palaeosols; Optically stimulated Luminescence (OSL); soils; Rhone-Aare-glacier; soil chronosequence; Upper Quaternary; cover beds; Swiss Plateau

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Bodenbildung ist unter anderem zeitabhängig. Bei ansonsten gleichartigen Verhältnissen sollten Böden auf älteren Ablagerungen anders bzw. stärker entwickelt sein als auf jüngeren (Chronosequenzen). Im Schweizer Mittelland liegen durch die verschiedenen Vergletscherungsphasen der Vergangenheit unterschiedlich alte Moränen und Schmelzwasserablagerungen (Terrassen) vor, die ein ideales Experimentierfeld für solche Chronosequenzstudien bilden.
Lay summary

Im Projekt möchten wir 4 Hypothesen testen, die im Alpenvorland bislang als "allgemeingültig" angenommen werden:

1.) Während der letzten Kaltzeit war der Gletscherhochstand vor 25.000 Jahren der am weitesten reichende

2.) In der Nacheiszeit, dh. in den letzten 10.000 Jahren, herrschten im Schweizer Mittelland stabile Verhältnisse mit geschlossener Vegetationsdecke und Bodenbildung

3.) Frostbedingte (periglaziale) Phänomene wie Kryoturbationen, Eiskeile etc. im Mittelland sind kaltzeitlich, da sie Permafrost erfordern

4.) Gut entwickelte Bt-Horizonte von Parabraunerden spiegeln interglaziale Verhältnisse wider und bildeten sich nicht während den Kaltzeiten.

Für diese Untersuchungen sind vor allem gute Altersbestimmungen der Sedimente nötig, wozu 14C- und OSL-Datierungen eingesetzt werden. Grundlage ist eine intensive Feldarbeit (Kiesgruben, Grabungen, Bohrungen, Kartierungen), um den Zusammenhang "Sediment - Boden" in seiner Komplexität erfassen zu können. Regional liegt das Untersuchungsgebiet im Bereich des eiszeitlichen Rhone-Aare-Gletschers, dh. ungefähr zwischen dem Seeland und der Region Solothurn-Niederbipp.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.04.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
10Be surface exposure dating of the last deglaciation in the Aare Valley, Switzerland
Wüthrich Lorenz, Morabito Ezequiel, Zech Jana, Trauerstein Mareike, Veit Heinz, Gnägi Christian, Merchel Silke, Scharf Andreas, Rugel Georg, Christl Marcus, Zech Roland (2018), 10Be surface exposure dating of the last deglaciation in the Aare Valley, Switzerland, in Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 111(1-2), 295-303.
10Be depth profiles in glacial sediments on the Swiss Plateau: deposition age, denudation and (pseudo)inheritance
Wüthrich Lorenz, Brändli Claudio, Braucher Régis, Veit Heinz, Haghipour Negar, Terrizzano Carla, Christl Marcus, Gnägi Christian, Zech Roland (2017), 10Be depth profiles in glacial sediments on the Swiss Plateau: deposition age, denudation and (pseudo)inheritance, in Quaternary Science Journal, 66, 57-68.
Late Glacial/Early Holocene slope deposits on the Swiss Plateau: Genesis and paleo-environment
Veit Heinz, Trauerstein Mareike, Preusser Frank, Messmer Tobias, Gnägi Christian, Zech Roland, Wpthrich Lorenz (2017), Late Glacial/Early Holocene slope deposits on the Swiss Plateau: Genesis and paleo-environment, in Catena, 158, 102-122.
Testing the suitability of dim sedimentary quartz from Northern Switzerland for OSL burial dose estimation
Trauerstein Mareike, Lowick Sally, Preusser Frank, Veit Heinz (2017), Testing the suitability of dim sedimentary quartz from Northern Switzerland for OSL burial dose estimation, in Geochronometria, 44(1), 66-76.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Quarternary Geology/University of Freiburg/Prof. Dr. Frank Preusser Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Quaternary Geology/Univ. of Bern/Prof. Flavio Anselmetti; Dr. Sally Lowick Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Jahresexkursion der Bodenkundlichen Gesellschaft der Schweiz 2015 28.08.2015 Swiss Plateau, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Böden und Paläoböden des Mittellandes German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Die Böden des Berner Mittellandes: Braunerden und Parabraunerden im Spiegel der eiszeitlichen Landsc Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2014

Abstract

It has been shown over the past few years that the glaciation and environmental history of the Alps is much more complex than previously assumed. While the dating of glacial sediments by luminescence has currently seen important improvement, it is still methodologically challenging. Another approach for constraining the age of glacial deposits is investigating their cover sediments and soils, because soil development (e.g. decalcification depth) and the complexity of cover bed sequences increases with the age of the underlying sediments. Additionally, investigating the cover beds, soils and palaeosols will not only provide indirect information on the time of glacial deposition, but also reflect the later environmental history of the region. Almost everywhere in the alpine foreland, soil chronosequence studies have been realized using geomorphological-stratigraphical models in the past, but lacking numerical dating control. Chronological constrains and environmental inter¬pre¬tations drawn from this approach are based on certain theoretical assumptions, such as: a) the glacier advance at about 25 ka ago was the most extensive one of the last glacial cycle, b) the Holocene was a period of land¬scape stability, with closed vegetation cover and continuous soil development at least until the arrival of humans, c) periglacial surface features, such as solifluction layers, cryoturbations etc. are of Pleistocene age, because the formation of such features requires intense soil frost which is absent during the Holocene, and d) well-developed Bt-horizons reflect full interglacial environmental conditions (Holocene, Eem or older).In this project we aim to challenge all these basic assumptions by combining intensive fieldwork with luminescence-¬dating. This is based on preliminary data we have obtained during the recent years, which contradict these “classical” views of the Upper Quaternary. Instead, our hypotheses are: a) the most extensive advance of the Rhone-Aare-glacier occurred prior to 25 ka, b) during the Early Holocene (ca. 10-8 ka) there was widespread erosion and sedimentation, indicating a relatively open landscape, c) frost dynamics with cryoturbation-like structures occurred at the same period (Early Holocene), probably due to pronounced seasonal contrasts (very cold winters, warm summers), and d) Bt-formation was possible during several periods of the Birrfeld glaciation and are not restricted to interglacials in a classical sense. To prove these assumptions, we have to understand the spatial distribution of soils, their detailed structure, geochemical composition, and we need to know the age of the parent materials. Therefore, we aim at carrying out intensive fieldwork (studying gravel pits, hand- and motor corings, excavations), geochemical/mineralogical lab work, as well as luminescence and radiocarbon dating. The study will be realized in the area of the former Rhone-Aare-glacier glacier between Solothurn and Niederbipp, as well as the younger deposits in the lower Aare valley and the lake district (Lake Biel, Lake Neuchatel). This region features moraines and terraces of the supposed 25 ka advance, as well as deposits of older glaciations.
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