Field mapping of fluvial terraces, aerial photographs, ground penetrating radar and seismic data from gas and oil exploration were used at four different locations to detect young tectonic and halokinetic movements in the North-German-Basin.
i) The course of the Rivers Weser and Aller follow precisely a shallow Tertiary graben on the northwestern flank of the Verden salt diapir. Recent local depressions and vegetation anomalies on the alluvial plain have the same orientation as the strike direction of the faults at subsurface depth. Apparently, the river follows tectonic lines, and thus the river sediments can be used for the interpretation of recent crustal movements.
ii) The Wedehof diapir, in contrast, is topped by a local topographic high which follows exactly the shape of the underlying salt. Either the diapir formed an obstacle for the advance of the continental glaciers or one has to assume halokinetic uplift of more than 50 m during the post-Saalian Pleistocene. Either way, the Wedehof diapir shows control of the modern surface morphology by halokinesis.
iii) The course of the river Hunte, in contrast, outside the area of salt diapirism, shows anomalies of incision and terrace width over a local updoming caused by tectonic inversion of distinct blocks in the basin. The confluence of several tributaries of the Hunte lies exactly over the updoming of Barnstorf. Thus, the rivers do not avoid the local high, but focus in this area, which is characterised by a graben on top of the domestructure, as visible in seismic profiles. Again, tectonism controls river development.
iv) The last case study is from Lake Plön, where seismic profiles reveal that linear shorelines of the lake parallel the flanks of two local graben structures of Tertiary age. It is apparent that the Weichselian glaciers that formed the lake and the surrounding moraines interacted with the existing grabens.
The Tertiary morphology in the North German basin was apparently draped by Quaternary glacial deposits, but rivers and lakes that dominate the topography of the modern landscape still reflect the geodynamic centers of Tertiary tectonism and halokinesis. Faults from the depth of the Tertiary penetrate the Quaternary strata and allow upward fluid migration, which becomes visible on aerial photographs as linear vegetation anomalies.