TERRA.vita Geopark is located in North-Western Germany in the transitional zone between the northern German lowlands and the north-western hill country, in a distance of about 100 kilometers from the north sea coast and some 35 kilometers east of the Dutch border.With an area of 1.220 square kilometers, the Naturpark is one of the cross-border Parks of the Federal Republic of Germany. 901 square kilometers, are located in Lower Saxony, in the district of Osnabrueck. The rest of the territory, 319 square kilometers, are located in North-Rhine Westfalia in the districts of Minden-Luebbecke, Herford, Gueterslohand the city of Bielefeld. 70% of the Natural Park are covered with forests, the other 30% are mostly used by agriculture.
Geologically, the Natural Park can be subdivided in two regions: The northern part, the so-called "Aenkum-Bippener Berge" or "Aenkumer Hoehe", represents the western part of an altogether 40 km broad "End-moraine" with heights above sea level of up to 140 m. This landscape was formed during the ice age and its elevation is higher than the surrounding northern German lowlands. The southern part of the park is classed as belonging to an average-mountain landscape. Its subsoil consists of massive rock, that is covered by ice age sediments just in some places. The highest point of the average-mountain landscape is the “Doerenberg” with 331m above sea level.
The "Aenkum Bippener Berge":
This "Endmoraine" was created during the Drenthe-stage of the Saale ice age. Experts classify it as one of the most significant and best developed "End-moraines" of North-Western Germany. During several ice advancements older subsoil material, mainly clay sediments of Tertiary age, was pushed together while at the same time as glacio-fluviatile material like sand and gravel was accumulated.
In the interior of the ridge, several single ice-marginal grounds are visible. Probably the "End-moraine" was superimposed by later ice advancements of the Saale-ice age. The former tongue-like basin of the glacier between the eastern and western part of the moraine is called "Artland" today. The surroundings of these main glacial elements are mainly covered with ground-moraines, just a few glacial outwashes are developed.
From a geological-geographical viewpoint, the southern part of the Nature Park belongs to the German average-mountain landscape. As a wedge-shaped mountain-ridge this complex separates the "Muensterland basin" in the south, from the north-western lowlands. Geologists call this complex the North-Westfalian-Lippian ridge, caused by tectonic folding and surrounded by a commonly horizontally bedded, flat landscape.
This mountain-ridge is representing a geological anticline, characterized by several smaller sub-structures like over-thrusts, faults, horsts, inferior anticlines and uplifts. Outside the anticline, erosional processes and especially the influence of glaciation during the ice ages created the morphology of today.
The southern area of the Nature Park can further be divided into three different geological-geomorphological entities. The northern edge is formed by the "Wiehengebirge" and the "Wesergebirge", it consists of Jurassic rocks. The crest of the central mountain chain is made up of Upper Jurassic sand- and limestones. One of the most famous Geosite (or "Geotop"), the "Dinosaur Footprints of Barkhausen" is located in these layers. In the southernmost part of the Park, outcrops of Middle and Lower Jurassic rocks can be found that consist mainly out of soft shaly claystones, often interspersed with clay-iron concretions.
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