Geomorphic expression of neotectonic activity in a low relief area in an Airborne Laser Scanning DTM: A case study of the Little Hungarian Plain (Pannonian Basin)

Balázs Székely, András Zámolyi, Erich Draganits, Christian Briese

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The NW corner of the Little Hungarian Plain, which lies at the junction of the Eastern Alps, the Pannonian Basin and the Western Carpathians, is a neotectonically active region linking the extrusional tectonics of the Eastern Alps with the partly subsiding Little Hungarian Plain. The on-going deformation is verified by the earthquake activity in the region. An extremely flat part of the area, east of Neusiedlersee, the so-called Seewinkel, has been investigated with Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS, also known as airborne LiDAR) techniques, resulting in a digital terrain model (DTM) with a 1 m grid resolution and vertical precision of better than 10 cm. The DTM has been compared with known and inferred neotectonic features. Potential neotectonic structures of the DTM have been evaluated, together with geological maps, regional tectono-geomorphic studies, geophysical data, earthquake foci, as well as geomorphological features and the Quaternary sediment thickness values of the Seewinkel and the adjacent Parndorfer plateau. A combined evaluation of these data allows several tectonic features with a relief of < 2 m to be recognized in the DTM. The length of these linear geomorphological structures ranges from several hundred meters up to several kilometers. The most prominent feature forms a 15 km long, linear, 2 m high NE-SW trending ridge with gravel occurrences having an average grain size of ca. 5 cm on its top. We conclude this feature to represent the surface expression of the previously recognized Mönchhof Fault. In general, this multi-disciplinary case study shows that ALS DTMs are extremely important for tectono-geomorphic investigations, as they can detect and accurately locate neotectonic structures, especially in low-relief areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2009



  • Airborne Laser Scanning
  • DTM
  • Deformation bands
  • Mur-Mürz-Leitha-Žilina fault system
  • Neotectonic activity
  • Neusiedlersee Fault
  • Pannonian Basin
  • Tectonic geomorphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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