EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A statistical framework to analyse the stratigraphy of glaciofluvial terraces from topographic data

Thomas Pollhammer1, Bernhard Salcher1, Florian Kober2, and Gaudenz Deplazes2
Thomas Pollhammer et al.
  • 1University of Salzburg, Department of Geography and Geology, Hellbrunner Strasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria (
  • 2NAGRA Switzerland, Hardstrasse 73, 5430 Wettingen, Switzerland

Alluvial staircase terraces are typical Quaternary features of mid- to high latitude rivers. Their formation is linked to i) repeated events of increased sediment production, triggered by Quaternary climatic fluctuations and ii) tectonic uplift. Accordingly, terraces may act as important terrestrial archives of climatic and geodynamic information.  Comprehensive stratigraphic and topographic data qualifies the North Alpine Foreland as an ideal study region. Even though it has been subject to extensive investigations for more than a century consistent, basin wide stratigraphic models have not been proposed for more than a century (Penck and Brückner, 1909). Advances in local stratigraphy created major stratigraphic inconsistencies between the related parts of Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

In an aim to resolve these inconsistences we focus on foreland-wide high-resolution topographic data by investigating syn- and postdepositional signals behind the hypsometry and morphology of tributary terraces to the rivers Rhine and Danube.

By utilizing data from digital elevation models, geologic maps as well as outcrop information, morphostratigraphic analyses are provided via a new toolset within the framework of the software R. Semiautomatic projection of terrace data on 2D profiles allow to perform statistical analysis (based on slope, relative heights, concavity) of river long profiles and terrace-tops. We show that extracted parameters are highly suitable to make quantitative statements on fluvio-, glacio- and geodynamic processes controlling Quaternary terrace formation.


Penck, A., & Brückner, E. (1909). Die Alpen im Eiszeitalter. Leipzig: Tauchnitz.

How to cite: Pollhammer, T., Salcher, B., Kober, F., and Deplazes, G.: A statistical framework to analyse the stratigraphy of glaciofluvial terraces from topographic data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5624,, 2021.


Display file

Comments on the display

to access the discussion