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The floodplains of the Rhine hide a treasure
The floodplains hold a very special treasure: gravel. Over millions of years, the river water has transported the colourful material many miles and has deposited some of it here. The gravel is pulverized rocks all the way from the Alps, Vosges mountains and the Black Forest. All along the Rhine, people have mined this floodplain treasure for building materials and filtering drainages. The Rhine floodplain in Plittersdorf, for example, was still being mined for gravel until the 1970s.
Today idyllic quarry pond - former gravel mining pond
Years of mining have left its mark on the floodplain and have affected the sensitive ecosystem. But thanks to laws protecting the area, mining has been stopped and habitats can recover. The former gravel mining pit is now an idyllic lake called the Big Metz Lake. It is a characteristic quarry with deep waters and steep banks. The body of water provides a habitat for ducks and other waterfowl. Great crested grebes rest here and Eurasian coots forage for food. Keep your eyes and ears open! There are good chances you will see dancing dragonflies or hear the bird concert from the dense forest just across the lake.
From mountain to gravel
1. Rocks detach from mountains
Rain, wind and frost loosen large boulders from the rock walls. The resulting boulders move down into the valley by gravity.
2. Rough surface
The broken boulders are made of hard gneiss or granite rock. The rock is angular and has a rough, irregular surface.
3. Transportation by water
With water, things move forward. Meltwater, streams and rivers transport the rock fragments further and further.
4. Stones become increasingly smaller
During transport, the rock fragments constantly collide with each other. This causes them to break into smaller and smaller pieces of rock.
5. Smooth surface
The water rolls the small pieces of rock over the bottom. This makes the stones round and finely polished. Gravel is created.
Gravel everywhere? Where is the treasure of the floodplain hiding?