Birds-Eye View of the Rhine-Meuse Delta (The Netherlands)


  • H. J. A. Berendsen


Geology, natural environment, sea level rise, human influence Rhine-Meuse delta


The Rhine was formed in the Miocene. During the Pleistocene it dumped large amounts of glacial debris into the subsiding North Sea Basin, which resulted in a maximum thickness of Quaternary deposits of about 1000 m. During the Holocene the present deltaic plain was formed, far inland from the lowstand deltas. The deltaic plain, which still contains glacial features, can be subdivided into a fluvial area, an estuarine area, and a coastal dune area. Sea level rise played an important role in the Holocene evolution of the deltaic plain. The abandunce of sand in the shallow North Sea basin caused progradation of the coast, once the rate of sea level rise decreased (after 5000 BP). Human influence in the delta has been great since the Middle Ages: peat was dug, lakes were drained, and new land was gained by building new dikes and draining the enclosed areas, tidal inlets were closed by dams, thus profoundly influencing hydrology and ecology. This paper provides a review of these components of the Rhine-Meuse delta in addition to potential future developments along the coastal area.






Special Thematic Section