Ice Age geomorphological Ahorn Valley and Ailsbach River terrace evolution – and its importance for the cave use possibilities by cave bears, top predators (hyenas, wolves and lions) and humans (Neanderthals, Late Palaeolithics) in the Frankonian Karst


The Sophie’s Cave in Upper Franconia, Bavaria (South Germany) eroded into Upper Jurassic reef dolomite and is a perfect model including all three stages of cave development ranging from a 1. ponor cave, to 2. intermediate periodically flooded cave to 3. dry cave. The key position of the cave along the Ahorn Valley, a side valley of the larger Wiesent River Valley, allow a cave genesis and evolution reconstruction which started in the Pliocene. The main refill took place in the Quaternary with Middle to Late Pleistocene river terrace sediments, present as relict sediments. Seven valley genesis stages between Pliocene to final Late Pleistocene can be separated in elevations of 440 to 375 meters a.s.l. The lowering of the Ailsbach River in the Ahorn Valley is important to understand the accessibility of caves for Pleistocene animals and Palaeolithic humans in different valley positions and elevations during different times in Upper Franconia, and the natural erosive opening/closing of cave entrances towards drainage valleys.
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