1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eifel

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EIFEL, a district of Germany, in the Prussian Rhine Province, between the Rhine, the Moselle and the frontier of the grand duchy of Luxemburg. It is a hilly region, most elevated in the eastern part (Hohe Eifel), where there are several points from 2000 up to 2410 ft. above sea-level. In the west is the Schneifels or Schnee-Eifel; and the southern part, where the most picturesque scenery and chief geological interest is found, is called the Vorder Eifel.

The Eifel is an ancient massif of folded Devonian rocks upon the margins of which, near Hillesheim and towards Bitburg and Trier, rest unconformably the nearly undisturbed sandstones, marls and limestones of the Trias. On the southern border, at Wittlich. the terrestrial deposits of the Permian Rothliegende are also met with. The slates and sandstones of the Lower Devonian form by far the greater part of the region; but folded amongst these, in a series of troughs running from south-west to north-east lie the fossiliferous limestones of the Middle Devonian, and occasionally, as for example near Büdesheim, a few small patches of the Upper Devonian. Upon the ancient floor of folded Devonian strata stand numerous small volcanic cones, many of which, though long extinct, are still very perfect in form. The precise age of the eruptions is uncertain. The only sign of any remaining volcanic activity is the emission in many places of carbon dioxide and of heated waters. There is no historic or legendary record of any eruption, but nevertheless the eruptions must have continued to a very recent geological period. The lavas of Papenkaule are clearly posterior to the excavation of the valley of the Kyll, and an outflow of basalt has forced the Uess to seek a new course. The volcanic rocks occur both as tuffs and as lava-flows. They are chiefly leucite and nepheline rocks, such as leucitite, leucitophyre and nephelinite, but basalt and trachyte also occur. The leucitc lavas of Niedermendig contain haüyne in abundance. The most extensive and continuous area of volcanic rocks is that surrounding the Laacher See and extending eastwards to Neuwied and Coblenz and even beyond the Rhine.

The numerous so-called crater-lakes or maare of the Eifel present several features of interest. They do not, as a rule, lie in true craters at the summit of volcanic cones, but rather in hollows which have been formed by explosions. The most remarkable group is that of Daun, where the three depressions of Gemünd, Weinfeld and Schalkenmehren have been hollowed out in the Lower Devonian strata. The first of these shows no sign of either lavas or scoriae, but volcanic rocks occur on the margins of the other two. The two largest lakes in the Eifel region, however, are the Laacher See in the hills west of Andernach on the Rhine, and the Pulvermaar S.E. of the Daun group, with its shores of peculiar volcanic sand, which also appears in its waters as a black powder (pulver).