HEARTs – Headway or Escape? The Anthropogenic Riverscape Transition in the Eastern Harz Mountains

 

Part of the DFG priority programme: SPP 2361 - On the Way to the Fluvial Anthroposphere

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Johannes Keßels © Copyright: J. Keßels

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Philipp Schulte

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Influence and dynamics of anthropogenic valorisation in the Selke catchment with special focus on flood-meadow development.

The HEARTs project focuses on the development of flood-meadow landscapes and fluvial communities in the catchment area of the rivers Bode and Selke. Flood-meadows as an integrative component of river systems are in tension between their function as natural floodplains and their function as nutrient-rich areas and sites with high hydropower potential. This is particularly true in the low mountain ranges. The natural conditions in low mountain ranges with few favorable areas in total cause conflicts of use.

The 64 km long Selke with a catchment area of 468 km² is a typical example for a low mountain range river. While the upper and middle courses are cut deeply into the Harz mountains and are characterized by small, steep catchment areas, the lower courses extend over the loess-dominated, flat Harz foreland. Human influence in the upper and middle courses begins in the Neolithic period with mining activities. In the Middle Ages, this influence was extended through the construction of smelting plants, mills and other hydraulic plants. Mining and its associated industries led to an extreme demand for wood in the region, which resulted in several intensive deforestation phases. The river - floodplain system as well as the connectivity to the hillsides has been massively disturbed as a result.

The objective of the project is to identify time phases of different land use and to quantify their influence on the river - floodplain system. Methodically, this is achieved by a multidisciplinary approach, taking into account archaeological finds and historical sources as well as geoscientific methods (remote sensing, geophysical prospection, soil chemical analysis).

The core question is: Is the path into the fluvial anthroposphere at the low mountain range edge of the eastern Harz mountains a departure into a promising new habitat supported by technical progress or an escape from deteriorating conditions? What are the push and pull factors that caused or favored migratory movements in the Harz Mountains?

  Map of the upper Bode River region and main tributary of the Selke Copyright: © J. Keßels  
Duration 04/2023 - 03/2026
Funding Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - project number 509913955
Project partners

Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen Anhalt
Landesamt für Geologie und Bergwesen Sachsen Anhalt