Rhenish Massif

The Rhenish Slate Mountains is a mountain range in Germany ( Federal States of North Rhine -Westphalia, Rhineland -Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland). As geological and geographical unit, however, it goes further to Luxembourg, France and Belgium, and also includes the Ardennes. Its highest peak is located in the Taunus mountains on the Great Feldberg with 880.9 m above sea level. NHN.

  • 3.1 rocks
  • 3.2 Geological structure
  • 3.3 Geological development


The name of the mountain goes back to Karl Georg von Raumer, who declared in 1815:

" The widespread shales have given the Rhenish Slate Mountains at the beginning of the 19th century, the name, the occurrence have played a crucial role in the Eifel: Slate prevails here in front of all other rocks in our mountains, which I therefore calling after him. "

Geographical breakdown


The Rhenish Slate Mountains as medium to Western European natural landscape is separated from the Rhine into two parts. The schematic in the map image (see right) approximately butterfly-shaped mountain is greatly diversified and is divided into the left bank and the right slate mountains. Its average altitude is about 500 m.

The boundaries of the Rhenish Slate Mountains to the west and southwest of the Paris basin, in the south of the Saar -Nahe Valley, the Mainz Basin and the Wetterau. The eastern edge of the West is the Hessian highland belonging Hessian Depression. On the northern edge are the Lower Rhine lowlands, the Lower Rhine Valley and the bay Westphalian parts of the North German lowlands. Just north of the Ardennes is below the open-minded young overlap only in the valleys of southern Lower Palaeozoic Brabant Brabant Massif.

The east wing of the Rhenish Massif is intersected by the river Lahn. South of the Lahn lies the Taunus, north of which the Westerwald and Gladenbacher mountain country, the winning country adjoins the north. The Sauerland as the center of northeastern Massif with the Rothaargebirge as the core of the Upper Sauerland region merges into the Bergische Land to the west. The easternmost tip is formed from the basement Forest.

The west wing of the Rhenish Massif is cut from the River Moselle, south of it lies the Hunsrück, north of it, the Eifel and the Ardennes, with the High Fens.

In addition to the three Grosstal furrows of the Rhine, Lahn and Moselle characterize two major intra -montane basins of the landscape, the Mittelrheinische basin between Koblenz and Andernach, and the points of both sides of the Lahn at Limburg Limburg Basin. From the north, the Lower Rhine Valley accesses along the Rhine far in the Slate Mountains, a, of the south-west of Trier bay.

Part Mountains

Parts of the Rhenish Slate Mountains - with respective maximum height of the most important landscapes in meters ( m) above mean sea level ( MSL ) and natural space main unit group (in italics) - are these highlands: see also: List of mountains of the Rhenish Massif

Left of Rhine from north (west ) to south ( east )

  • Binger Wald
  • Idarwald
  • Lützelsoon
  • Osburger forest
  • Black Hochwald
  • Soonwaldsteig

Legal Rheinisch from north (west ) to south ( east )

  • Southshore Bergland ( 843.2 m; 33) Parts are not limited to: Ardey Mountains
  • Iserlohn height
  • Plackwald
  • Bergische plateaus
  • Ebbegebirge
  • Lenne Mountains
  • Hall Hauser mountains
  • Winners country
  • Rothaargebirge ( with Sauerland )
  • Kellerwaldsteig ( Ostausläufer the West Hessian mountain country; 344)
  • Seven Mountains ( to the Middle Rhine area; 292.4 )
  • Montabaurer height
  • Glad Bergland
  • Vordertaunus
  • Hintertaunus Western Hintertaunus
  • Idsteiner Valley
  • Eastern Hintertaunus


The Rhenish Slate Mountains flows through, among others, of these rivers:

  • Agger
  • Dill
  • Eder
  • Erft
  • Diemelange
  • Kyll
  • Lahn
  • Lenne
  • Prüm
  • Rhine
  • Dysentery
  • Rur
  • Sour
  • Victory
  • Wied
  • Wupper


The Rhenish slate mountains have arisen as part of the Variscan orogeny and is located in the so-called Rhenoherzynikum (also rhenoherzynische zone called ). It has close links with the resin in the east and the English coal basin in Devon, Cornwall and Pembrokeshire in the west in structure and geological development. Its rocks come up to narrowly defined areas with older layers mainly from the period of the Devonian and Carboniferous. At margins fall over rocks from the time of the Permian, Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous to the Slate Mountains. Add to pool inside the Slate Mountains and the Lower Rhine Basin can be found in larger scale sediments of recent history ( Paleogene and Neogene ).

Especially in the Eifel and Westerwald volcanic rocks are widespread in the Paleogene and Neogene. In the Eifel volcanism persisted even into historical time and can not be regarded as entirely extinct today.


Although the name Slate Mountains led to believe that the Rhenish Slate Mountains particularly much and almost everywhere slate occurs, this is true only to a limited too. "Pure " Slate, the popular as a building material roofing slate is open only in limited areas, such as in the Mosel area and on the lower reaches of the Rhine, in parts of the Bergisch land or the winning country. The bulk of the rocks in the Slate Mountains are foliated sandy mudstones, sandstones, greywackes and quartzites.

Besides coming in the northern Ardennes, in the Eifelkalkmulden and in the northern Eifel, on the northern edge of the eastern Massif, in the Bergische Land and Sauerland and in the Lahn- Dill area to a greater extent Massenkalke ago from the Middle Devonian with appropriate karst phenomena. Here often have holes formed, the Atta cave in Attendorn, the Balver Cave and the Reckenhöhle to Balve or Kubacher Crystal Cave near Weilburg. The limestone is in these areas is still an important raw material and is mined in large part to the quarries. This concerns mainly the northern Massenkalkzug of the Ardennes on the Eifel, Wülfrath, Hönnetal and Warstein up to Brilon. In the middle Lahn is the so -called Lahn marble, a polishable Massenkalk of importance.

Volcanic rocks such as basalt, tuff and pumice are common in the volcanic Eifel, in the Seven Mountains and the Westerwald on, they were deposited on the old mountain hull of the Paleogene and Neogene Slate Mountains. Also in the Lahn area volcanic rocks are broken down, they come from the Devonian and Carboniferous, however, are much older than the volcanic Eifel, Westerwald and Seven Mountains. In the area of the Westerwald are the big clay deposits of the can baker country. Gravels and sands play in the Slate Mountains only a subordinate role only in the Middle Rhine Valley appreciable deposits are received.

Geological structure

The Rhenish Massif comprises from north to south following structural units:

  • Namur Syncline, Dinant Syncline, the Liège area, the Aachen region with Inde and worm trough, Ruhrgebiet ( molasses )
  • Lower Paleozoic of the Ardennes, Stavelot - Venn saddle, Remscheid - Altena saddle, Ebb- saddle
  • Eifel -well, Eifler north-south zone, Eifler main saddle, Paffrather trough Attendorn - Elsper double well, hollow Gummersbach, Müsener saddle, saddle Ostsauerländer main
  • Siegen saddle
  • Mosel trough, dill trough, trough Wittgenstein, Hörre zone, basement Forest
  • South Eifel, Taunus region, Lahn trough Hessian slate series, Giessen ceiling
  • Hunsrück, Taunus

The Hunsrück -Taunus- southern edge of the Rhenish Slate Mountains fault bounded on both sides of the Rhine. It is interpreted as a suture and provides the interface to dar. Saxothuringian

Geological development

The rocks of the Rhenish Slate Mountains were deposited in an off the Lower Devonian developing ocean. By elongation of the passive continental margin of Laurussia ( Old- Red- continent ) a southward initially deeper nascent ocean basin, its southern border was formed by a now south of the Moselle and the victory of lying and then at least partially protruding from the ocean high area emerged. From the Devonian to the beginning of the Upper Carboniferous made ​​in this sea shallow deposits of marine sediments, and clastic and carbonate sediments, but eventually had a total thickness 3-12 km. Added to this was - only regional importance - the deposit of volcanic rocks. In the extreme southern Schiefergebirge the transition times but in the deeper ocean is preserved in the Hunsrück and Taunus. On the eastern edge of the Massif near Giessen Giessen lie in the blanket on the rocks of the Rhenoherzynikums the remains of a former southerly lying oceanic basin. Its opening began with the lower Middle Devonian, its complete closure is dated to the Early Carboniferous.

In the Lower Carboniferous the whole area was covered by the Variscan orogeny. The rocks were deposited verfaltet, verschuppt tectonically and pushed to a large dimension nappe stack together. Parts of the slate mountains were subject to a north-south increasing metamorphosis. Before the front of the migrating north orogeny itself flysch rocks were deposited, which have north always a younger age. This can be determined by radiometric age determinations on minerals characteristic age of metamorphism is also increasing from about 340 - from 290 million years ago in the north - to about 305 320 million years ago in the south.

The end of the orogeny was accompanied by the formation of a mountain range located in the north of the foredeep and the sedimentation of the Upper Carboniferous molasse with a clastic sequence with over 100 coal seams. The Molassesedimentation sat down in places up in the Lower Permian, as is documented in smaller deposits in the trench from Malmedy, in Menden and in Wittlich Depression. The mountain was until the end of the Permian largely demolished and leveled to a barely protruding above the surrounding plains. In addition to the grave forming fault structures emerged after the Variscan orogeny numerous linear and with SE -NW direction generally transverse to the fold structures extending fracturing disorders zerblockten the old mountains and along which were formed in numerous places thread-shaped mineralization.

Since the Permian Ardennes and Slate Mountains remained a territory substantially. Randliche assaults of various marine incursions can usually be detected at the edges of the mountains. The following areas have remnants of younger deposits:

  • Zechstein sediments at the eastern edge of the Rhenish Slate Mountains
  • Terrestrial deposits of red sandstone and the Keuper and marine sediments of the Muschelkalk and the Lias ( Lower Jurassic ) in the Eifel North-South Zone of the Trier bay on the sandstone deposits of Gerolstein (Upper Bettinger Triassic Graben) to Mechernicher Triassic triangle
  • Remains of a marine thrust in the Upper Cretaceous, which can be found in the Ardennes and Eifel on the northern edge of the Rhenish Slate Mountains and in quite another distribution
  • Tertiary sediments are more common again in the Slate Mountains and in its border. That's when both the sinking of the Lower Rhine Basin with the deposition of several thousand meters clays, silts, sands and lignites and other Tertiary basins in the interior of the mountain, and the main phase of volcanism in the High Eifel, in the Seven Mountains and in the Westerwald.

During the Quaternary the Rhenish Slate Mountains rose up slowly. In the original gently undulating level, the streams and rivers eroded gradually formed the different slope terraces are still visible today and produced the current appearance of the slate mountains with deep valleys and plateau-like ridges. About 500,000 years ago, the still ongoing last phase of volcanism of the East and West Eifel began. The last volcanic eruptions were witnessed by Homo heidelbergensis ( the ancestors of Neanderthals ) who inhabited this area since about 600,000 years. Remains of their stone-age settlements and also parts of a skeleton were found in the Neuwied Basin immediately below the mighty pumice ceiling, which deliver the catastrophic outbreaks of the East Eifel volcanoes. Even today, many acidulous, hot springs and gas emissions from the dormant volcanic forces.