Iller-Lech Plateau

The Iller-Lech Plateau (German: Donau-Iller-Lech-Platte), also known as the Upper Swabian Plateau (Oberschwäbische Hochebene),[1] is one of the natural regions of Germany.


In the northwest the Iller-Lech Plateau borders on the Swabian Jura (unit D60 on the map) and, in the extreme northeast, on the Franconian Jura (unit D61 on the map). The boundary with these two natural regions is roughly formed by the course of the river Danube.

In the east the Iller-Lech Plateau borders on the Lower Bavarian Upland and Isar-Inn Gravel Plateaus (unit D65 on the map). North of Augsburg its eastern boundary runs roughly parallel to state road 2035 (Augsburg-Pöttmes-Neuburg an der Donau), south of Augsburg east of the Lech, roughly between Mering, Geltendorf and Schongau.

To the south the Southern Alpine Foreland (D66 on the map) borders on the Iller-Lech Plateau. The boundary between these two natural regions is partly formed by the terminal moraines of the Würm glaciation.


The sub-divisions are based upon the natural regions of Germany as shown on the BfN's Landscapes in Germany map. In the following table these sub-divisions are described from west to east. For the exact location and boundaries of the individual sub-divisions: see the BfN's map Landscapes in Germany (

Sub-divisions in Baden-Württemberg

Geographical locationFormationReliefSoil / Land useRemarks
Danube-Ablach Plateaus

Region between Danube, Mühlingen, Pfullendorf, Ostrach, Bad Saulgau and Federsee

Old Drift landscape dominated by the Rift and Mindel glaciation of the Rhine Glacier

Gently rolling hill country

  • Decalcified, waterlogged, brown earth (Parabraunerde) in the valleys to great depth, hence meadow and pasture land
  • Alternation of open landscape in valleys and forested ridges (pine forests)
  • On good soils: arable land
Danube Valley between Mengen and Ulm, Lower Riß Valley

Danube Valley between Mengen and Ulm, region between Herbertingen and Bad Saulgau, Riß Valley from Schemmerhofen to where it joins the Danube

  • From Mengen to the narrow gap by the southernmost outliers of the Swabian Jura the floor of the Danube Valley is filled with Würm Ice Age gravels from the Rhine Glacier
  • Beyond this gap the Danube flows through a scoured basin of reed marsh


Much grassland and arable farming

The Riß valley from the south which merges into the Danube valley is more marshy that the Danube valley

Federsee Ried

The Federsee lies in the middle of this natural region near Bad Buchau

  • Former tongue-basins (central basin) from the Riß glaciation with the extensive silted-up areas (Verlandungsgebieten)
  • In the south the silted-up areas give way to Young Drift


  • On the silted-up areas there is extensive pastureland in places
  • In the transition zone between the silted-up areas and the Young Drift moraines the reeds and wetlands vegetation gives way to stands of coniferous forest

Because the lake has since been filled with sediment and gravel in places, the natural dammed lake was once much large

Western Plain of the Lower Riß

Region between Danube, Riß and, roughly, the B 312

Tertiary Hill Country, in places however also ice age gravel deposits


Agricultural land use predominates because the soils are loamy and fertile

The Bussen is in this region

Western and Eastern Riß-Aitrach Plateaus

Riß glaciation terminal or ground moraine landscape


  • Western part: arable land dominates due to the covering of loess, grassland in the wet valleys
  • Eastern part: much of the landscape is wet or boggy; mainly open landscape with meadows and pastures

The Wurzach Ried is in the east of the Riß-Aitrach Plateau


Region between Senden, Aichstetten, Ochsenhausen and Laupheim

  • Part of the ice-age formed terraced landscape between Riß and Iller
  • Divided by numerous hollows (Muldentäler) and meltwater troughs

Rolling hills

  • Mostly loam and loess covered, ridges however loam-free, decalcified and therefore forested
  • Rapid alternation of open country (more grassland than arable land) and wooded areas (pine forests)

Landscape still not very dissected

Eastern Plain of the Lower Riß

Region between Neu-Ulm, Senden and Laupheim

Comprises various old gravel terraces along the valleys of the Riß and Danube, formed during the Riß glaciation

Intensive arable land use

The south is less dissected by valleys than the north

Sub-divisions in both Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria

Geographical locationFormationReliefSoil / Land useRemarks
Higher Plains of the Lower Iller Valley (south of Memmingen) and Lower Plains of the Lower Iller Valley (north of Memmingen)

Iller Valley from Altusried and Dietmannsried to where it joins the Danube at Neu-Ulm

Broad valley filled by large quantities of gravel during and after the ice ages


The north is used more for arable farming; the south more as grassland

  • In the southern part the Iller valley, which has cut down to the Tertiary bedrock, crosses the Young and Old Drift deposits
  • In places, continuous alluvial forest, in places still bog

Large fen plain by the Danube between Neu-Ulm and Donauwörth

Würm Ice Age formed, partly boggy gravel plain


Used predominately for grassland and arable land, which has largely displaced the natural reed beds

Many gravel pits

Sub-divisions in Bavaria

Geographical locationFormationReliefSoil / Land useRemarks
Upper and Lower Iller-Lech Gravel Plateaus

Gently undulating glacial gravels divided into interfluvial ridges and gravel plateaus by river systems flowing from south to north

Gently undulating

  • Glacial gravels partly covered by loess
  • Interfluvials: Covered by forest (especially pine forests)
  • River valleys: in the north more arable land, in the south more grassland
  • Gravel extraction in the Mindel and Günz Valleys
  • Fens were largely drained
Stauden Plateau (Stauden) / Zusam Plateau and Stauffenberg Region (Reischenau and Holzwinkel)
  • Between Mindel and Flossach Valley in the west (Offingen, Thannhausen and Türkheim) and the Lech and/or Wertach Valley in the east
  • Northern boundary: Offingen – Holzheim – Wertingen – Buttenwiesen
  • Boundary between the Stauden Plateau and Zusam Plateau and Stauffenberg region: Thannhausen – Fischach - Stadtbergen

Gently undulating

  • Relatively high proportion of forest and grassland (on the Stauden Plateau higher than in the more northern area of the Zusam Plateau and Stauffenberg region)
  • Pine forests dominated the woodland areas

The Stauden Plateau, Zusam Plateau and Stauffenberg region together form the Augsburg-Westliche Wälder Nature Park

Lower and Upper Lech-Wertach Plain
  • Divided into lower terrace landscape by the Rivers Wertach Wertach and Gennach
  • Meadows and lower terraces partly waterlogged


  • The Brennen are covered by pine forests
  • Intensive agricultural land use (in the south more grassland, in the north more arable land)
  • There are only a few remnants of the formerly widespread heath landscape
  • Together the Upper and the Lower Lech-Wertach Plains form the Lechfeld (Lech Plateau)
Sachsenried and Denklingen Rotwald

Between Gennach and Lech, south of Denklingen

  • Dominated by the high terrace gravels of the Lech in the north
  • In the south dominated by Riß Ice Age morainic material, that covers the Tertiary bedrock

Flat to hilly

Pure forest landscape (mainly pine forests)

Lech Valley

Lech Valley from Schongau to Augsburg and from Augsburg to where it joins the Danube

  • Extensive deposits of post-glacial gravel between Klosterlechfeld and the confluence with the Danube
  • North of Augsburg: broad U-shaped valley (Kastental) with gravel terraces of different ages; steps between the lower terraces and the loess-covered upper terraces 8 to 10 m high
  • Meadows and lower terraces waterlogged in places
  • Mostly used as grassland
  • On the upper terrace chiefly arable farming
  • The further north, the more arable farming predominates
  • Meadows and lower terraces in places covered by heaths with communities of nutrient-poor, chalk grasses and wasteland plants characteristic of the region
  • Almost continuous belt of alluvial forest along the river
Aindlingen Terrace
  • Western boundary: Lech Valley
  • Eastern boundary: parallel to state road 2035 (Augsburg-Pöttmes-Neuburg by the Danube)
  • Northern boundary: Danube Valley
  • High gravel plateau, rising towards the east
  • Divided by deep stream valley that are mostly asymmetrical


  • Thick layer of loess
  • Valley floors mainly covered by grassland
  • Otherwise arable land predominates
Landsberg Plateau

Landscape rising from north to south

Gently undulating

Arable land predominates

Together with the Fürstenfeldbruck Hills forms one of the semi-circular Old Drift moraines in front of the adjoining Ammer-Loisach Hills

See also



  1. Kutt Schrem (2004), Gesellschaft Oberschwaben für Geschichte und Kultur e.V. (ed.), Pfullendorff, ein Reichs-Statt in Ober-Schwaben gelegen (in German), Tettnang

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