Geology of the Deutschland Tour

Ger­many has everything to of­fer for fans of both geo­logy and cyc­ling. While sed­i­ments are cur­rently ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in the Ger­man Wad­den Sea, the old­est rocks in Ger­many formed more than two bil­lion years ago. In-between these two ex­tremes, there are rocks and sed­i­ments that tell us a story about ice ages, sea level change, moun­tain build­ing, met­eor­ite im­pacts, vol­can­ism, sed­i­ment­a­tion and erosion. Geo­lo­gists and cyc­lists alike sub­divide Ger­many in three main areas for this geology of the Deutschland Tour.

The low­lands of north­ern Ger­many are the per­fect set­ting for flat sprint­ stages, such as the open­ing stage of the Deutsch­land Tour. This is the fa­vour­ite ter­rane for riders like Mark Cav­endish or Caleb Ewan. This part of Ger­many has been tec­ton­ic­ally sub­sid­ing for more than hun­dred mil­lion years, form­ing a layer cake of sed­i­ment­ary lay­ers in the sub­sur­face.

South of the low­lands, the land­scape be­comes hil­lier and the out­crop­ping rocks be­come older. Here, a wide vari­ety of rocks can sed­i­ments can be found. This part of Ger­many is a ver­it­able patch­work of geo­lo­gical blocks, each with its own tec­tonic his­tory. Dur­ing the second, third and fourth stage of the Deutsch­land Tour, we will look a little more closely at the his­tory of some of these blocks.

The main dif­fer­ences between rock types in this large area are de­term­ined by the amount of pres­sure and tem­per­at­ure the rocks have been sub­jec­ted to. Meta­morphic crys­tal­line areas, like the Black Forest or the Bo­hemian Mas­sif, were strongly af­fected when they were deeply bur­ied dur­ing a moun­tain build­ing phase, some 300 mil­lion years ago. They show up as red­dish and grey-brown col­ours on the geo­lo­gic map.

The so-called “slate belts” (e.g. Rhen­ish Mas­sif, Harz, Thuringian Slate Moun­tains) were fol­ded, but not deeply bur­ied. They show up as or­ange-brown and green­ish col­ours on the geo­lo­gic map. In-between the slate belts and crys­tal­line mas­sifs. One finds un­fol­ded sed­i­ment­ary rocks of the Meso­zoic Era (purple col­ours: the time of the di­no­saurs!), the alpine fore­land in yel­low col­ours, and the Rhine graben. This hilly land­scape of­fers op­por­tun­it­ies for riders with ex­plos­ive power. Think about for ex­ample Mi­chael Woods and Tom Pid­cock., This is ex­actly what we’ll see in the first, second, and third stages of the Deutsch­land Tour.

The third and last main geo­lo­gic area in Ger­many is the Alps, in south­ern Bav­aria. Geo­lo­gic­ally speak­ing, this moun­tain chain is very young as it formed in the past tens of mil­lions of years be­cause of the tec­tonic col­li­sion between Europe and Africa. The Alps are not in­cluded in this year’s Deutsch­land Tour, but they are the pre­ferred set­ting for the feather-weight moun­tain goats among cyc­lists.

Detailed blogs on the geology of all the stages of the Deutschland Tour by David de Vleeschouwer you can find on the University of Münster website






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