The Vosgian-Alsatian Side of the Rhine Graben: A Unique, Tectonically Controlled and Manmade Landscape

  • Jean-Michel CarozzaEmail author
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)


Large-scale Alsatian landscapes are dominated by structural organisation inherited from the Cenozoic rifting of the Upper Rhine Graben (URG). This results in a subdivision into three main units, from west to east: the Vosges Mountains, the Vosges foothills and the Ill-Rhine plain. In each of these three units, the weight of structural control, i.e. tectonic or lithological, remains strong. Transition from the northern Vosges to the southern Vosges appears dominated by differential uplift and transition between crystalline rocks to Triassic sedimentary cover. In the Vosges foothills, tectonics factors are lesser than lithological one. Despite a common hilly shape, frequent lithological changes give rise to a mosaic of ‘terroirs’ of complementary interest, but chiefly dedicated to vineyard. The Ill-Rhine plain is organised along a downstream gradient under regional tectonic control. There, despite its young age and strong anthropogenic impact, the stigmata of tectonic remains marked in the landscape. These strong structural constraints and their consequences have been exploited through historical times as one of the most recognisable cultural landscape of France.


Fault Zone Cenozoic Rift Vosges Mountain Rift Shoulder Complex Structural Unit 
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This contribution is a tribute to Henri Vogt (1930–2012), who introduced me to the geomorphology of Alsace. I am grateful to Monique Fort, who offered me to contribute to this book and for her careful and patient proofreading.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of StrasbourgStrasbourg Cedex, StrasbourgFrance

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