EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Plio-/Pleistocene landscape evolution in the Eastern Alps: new insights from cosmogenic nuclide dating

Gerit Gradwohl1, Kurt Stüwe1, Jörg Robl2, Lukas Plan3, Derek Fabel4, Finlay Stuart4, Moritz Liebl2, and Luigia Di Nicola4
Gerit Gradwohl et al.
  • 1University of Graz, Earth Sciences, Graz, Austria
  • 2University of Salzburg, Geography and Geology, Salzburg, Austria
  • 3Karst and Cave Group, Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria
  • 4Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), East Kilbride, United Kingdom

The Eastern Alps hold an abundance of landscapes with noticeably low topographic gradients at higher elevations above much steeper slopes. Many of these elevated low-relief landscapes (ELRL) are organized in distinct surface levels. Sub-horizontal cave systems can often be found at similar elevations. Utilizing spatial statistics of these ELRL and over 15000 caves, we show that the formation of both the surface and sub-surface landscapes is connected and can help deciphering the landscape evolution of the Eastern Alps from the Late Neogene until today. New cosmogenic nuclide data (10Be, 21Ne, 26Al) of allogenic quartzous sediments from caves and surfaces of distinct elevation levels in the Eastern Alps are used to quantify the incision and ultimately surface uplift history. Burial ages of cave sediments scatter between 0.5 and over 5 Ma. The preliminary data indicate a mean surface uplift of some 0.15 – 0.25 mm/year for much of the Pliocene. We also show that most ELRL in the Eastern Alps can be interpreted in terms of pre-Pleistocene relict landscapes, especially in the only minorly glaciated eastern part.  However, the data also show some impact of the Pleistocene glacial cycles on the ELRL and the mobilization of sediments associated with them.

How to cite: Gradwohl, G., Stüwe, K., Robl, J., Plan, L., Fabel, D., Stuart, F., Liebl, M., and Di Nicola, L.: Plio-/Pleistocene landscape evolution in the Eastern Alps: new insights from cosmogenic nuclide dating, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9531,, 2022.