Drilling Overdeepened Alpine Valleys (DOVE)
(Fig. Relief map of the alpine region with the limit of the Last Glacial Maximum (pink line), the maximum limit of Pleistocene glaciation (black line), and the location of overdeepened valleys and basins (red) (modified after Preusser et al. 2010).
Formerly-glaciated areas are often characterized by deeply incised structures, often filled by Quaternary deposits. These buried troughs and valleys were formed by glacial overdeepening, likely caused by pressurized subglacial meltwater below warm-based glaciers.
This proposal requests funding for a workshop to discuss and define a multinational drilling initiative along and across the Alpine mountain range, which would explore the type and age of the infillings of overdeepened valleys and troughs. Such drill-cores, paired with matching geophysical and instrumental data, hold the keys to understand the rates and nature of processes shaping these valleys. The overarching goal will be to date the age and extent of past glaciations. As of today, it is not known how these glaciations varied along and across the Alps through the past, reflecting contrasting moisture distribution over Europe, as precipitation depends on atmospheric circulation patterns. Results of this drilling campaign, supported by new dating technologies, will further provide critical data on 'how' and 'at which rate' glacial erosion affects such mountain ranges and their foreland. These processes are also of fundamental importance for evaluating the safety of radioactive waste disposal sites, which are planned in areas of former glaciations.
Next to these palaeoglacial and palaeoclimatic aspects, the valley fills are of high interest as groundwater aquifers, as water resources may become scarce in the context of the projected climate change. Related to this role, they may be used for shallow geothermal application, which, however, rely on to date not well-constrained physical properties of the infilling sections. In addition, these valley fills act as crucial players in natural hazard assessments, as they are influenced by a variety of mass movements and, moreover, they represent areas of high seismic risks related to their unfavorable seismic site effects. Drilling these deposits, paired with geophysical explorations and drill-hole instrumentation, will provide the means to evaluate the potential of these valley fills to serve as drinking water resources and to quantify the mentioned hazards.
The drilling strategy would be to perform various drilling transects,
- along the northern alpine margin (CH, D, A),
- in inner-alpine areas (CH, A), and
- along the southern alpine margin (I, SLO).
Such drill holes, located in key areas selected by geophysical and existing borehole information, will be fully cored to basement, each a few hundred meters deep. They will provide a novel dataset to better understand these important geological features.
Europe, Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Alpes
47° 26' 36'' N, 8° 14' 2'' E (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)
Project Start and End
- not yet determined
Programs and Funding
- Flavio Anselmetti, University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences
- Milos Bavec, Geological Survey of Slovenia
- Gerald Gabriel, Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics
- Frank Preusser, University of Freiburg, Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Department of General Geology and Structural Geology
- Cesare Ravazzi, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per la dinamica dei processi ambientali, Laboratory of Palynology and Paleoecology
- Jürgen M. Reitner, Geological Survey of Austria, Department of Sedimentary Geology
Partners and Contractors
- Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Surface Waters, Research and Management, Sedimentology Section
- University of Bern, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Graduate School of Climate Sciences
ALPES, Austria, DOVE, Erosion, Europe, France, Glacial-interglacial Cycles, ICDP-2012/12, Italy, Landscape Evolution, Overdeepening, Paleoclimate, Slovenia, Switzerland
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