EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Old orogen - young topography: Landscape Rejuvenation in the Bohemian Massif

Jörg Robl1, Kurt Stüwe2, Fabian Dremel1, Moritz Liebl1, Christoph von Hagke1, and Derek Fabel3
Jörg Robl et al.
  • 1Paris-Lodron-University of Salzburg, Department Enviroment and Biodiversity, Department Enviroment and Biodiversity, Salzburg, Austria (
  • 2Institute for Earth Sciences, University of Graz, 8020 Graz, Austria (
  • 3Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), University of Glasgow, East Kilbride G75 0QF, United Kingdom (

The Bohemian Massif is the relic of a major Paleozoic mountain range that is known to have exhumed and its surface levelled in the Permian. The southern part of the Bohemian Massif with high grade metamorphic rocks and magmatic intrusions dips towards the south under the weakly consolidated Neogene sediments of the Molasse Basin. However, Neogene landscape evolution is largely unconstrained, but the occurrence of marine sediments several hundred meters above sea level is a clear indication of significant surface uplift during the last few million years. The landscape is characterized by rolling hills and extended planation surfaces above an elevation of about 500 m. However, at lower elevations deeply incised gorges confined by steep hillslopes are abundant and contrast impressively with the low relief landscapes above. A continental drainage divide follows the central ridge of the Bohemian Massif with the Vlatava (Moldau) and the Danube (Donau) draining the regions north and south of the drainage divide. In this study we aim quantifying spatial and temporal variations of landscape change in the Bohemian Massif during the last few million years. To characterize the two contrasting landscape states, we computed landscape metrics based on digital elevation models (e.g. normalized steepness index, geophysical relief). To determine the rate landscape change we determined catchment-wide erosion rates from the concentration of cosmogenic 10Be in river sands.

Results show that the landscape is characterized by out-of-equilibrium river profiles with knickpoints abundantly occurring at elevations between 450 m and 550 m separating steep channel segments at lower elevations from less steep channels at higher elevations. Hypsometric maxima at or close above knickpoint elevations along with high and low values in geophysical relief downstream and upstream of major knickpoints support the idea of landscape bimodality. Furthermore, we found a strong drainage divide asymmetry, which evidences for the reorganization of the drainage network of the region. Across-divide gradients in channel steepness predict the northward migration of the Danube-Vltava drainage divide including growth and shrinkage of tributary catchments. Erosion rates of the 20 investigated catchments are very low (20 – 50 m per million year) compared to the Alps or other active mountain ranges. The lowest erosion rates occur in catchments with a large fraction of planation surfaces at mid-altitudes. Highest erosion rates occur in elongated catchments of Danube tributaries. Based on our results we suggest that the occurrence of contrasting bedrock properties between Molasse sediments and the crystalline basement represents a superior control on the topographic evolution of the entire region. The transition from soft sediments of the Molasse basin to much less erodible basement rocks during progressive river incision in a setting of low but long last uplift distinctly changes the channel steepness and relief, the course of the receiving streams, and their susceptibility to sudden changes in flow direction (river capture) of the million years’ time scale.

How to cite: Robl, J., Stüwe, K., Dremel, F., Liebl, M., von Hagke, C., and Fabel, D.: Old orogen - young topography: Landscape Rejuvenation in the Bohemian Massif, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2068,, 2023.