May 31, 2009

My Fourth Semester

The fourth semester of my bachelor studies began nearly one and a half months ago in the middle of April but I definitely want to overview my courses and what I've experienced so far. After I had come back from my two field trips to Hesse, I was snowed under with work (the mapping report and the poster) but I also was looking forward to the beginning of the next semester. Even though stress has become much lesser in recent weeks, most of my fellow students (including me) are still tired without any specific reason.

Applied Geophysics:
Finally. Finally! FINALLY! I can't describe how happy I am to finally attend a geophysics lecture. It took me more than one and a half years to get to this point but it was worth it. The course concentrates on applied geophysics and is divided into three parts. The first part deals with seismic methods. I'm still looking forward to the other two parts but they won't beat the last weeks which have been great. I'm definitely confirmed in my wish to becoming a geophysicist.
Unfortunately, the tutorial's level of difficulty is close to or sometimes even way above most of my fellow students' mathematical and physical skills. They ask me to help them and of course I help them because I like to share my knowledge but from time to time it sucks. I mean, geophysics is just what I was made for and it's more or less easy for me and I do understand that not erverybody is that deep into all this stuff but some don't even try. Maybe it's because of my personal understanding that I can accomplish anything on my own. I even want to be good at courses I'm not really interested in or where I know that I lack some basics (like anything related to chemistry). Then I work a bit harder, longer, just more intensive to achieve success. I don't blame anybody for being not as ambitious as me but I blame me for not being egoistic enough to say "no".

Prejudices are the result of lacking knowledge. Geologists and geographers have lots of them against each other. This course is coordinated and given by geographers and it's real "fun" to see most of my prejudices confirmed. I really don't mean this in a bad way. Geologists and geophysicists are nerds too but those geographers are an odd species. Sometimes I feel treated like 15 and back in school again. Maybe that's why so many geographers become teachers?
Coming back to the content, I have to say that I really like remote sensing (that's what we have dealt with so far). Depending on your cash reserves, remote sensing techniques offer so many relatively fast possibilities to investigate a region without actually going there. Of course it's always better to know your area of interest by real sight but nevertheless remote sensing is a very good back up.

It's one of the courses everybody warns of. But I have to admit that it only depends on everbody's effort whether to pass or fail this course. Of course there are many new terms to learn but it's nothing where you don't have a chance anyway.
I really like to work with the Schmid net (lower hemisphere stereographic projection) because it's one of the few very simple and especially definite methods in geology.
In two weeks from now, I'm going to participate in my next, this time tectonics- und structural geology-related field trip to the Harz and the Erzgebirge. Of course I'm going to write about it in due time.

Hydrochemistry (Hydrogeology II):
I don't want to say much about this course. Chemistry + hydrogeology is an evil combination and in my case a boring one too. A bit of a yawn. This semester and never ever again. Fortunately, the tutorials are easy. The biggest problem is to figure out which questions we really have to answer and which not.

Petrology & Microscopy of Metamorphic Rocks:
Even though I don't like metamorphic rocks that much, I was interested to get at least the bacics of metamorphic petrology and microscopy. However, the lecturer is a *****. He doesn't have a lectureship and shows his disinterest in a very obvious way to his colleagues, to his assistant and especially to us. Somehow, I understand him because it's really not his job to give this lecture but still he could be a bit friendlier. At first, he thought all of us want to become mineralogists or petrologists. So he was shocked that most of us are that bad at it. But now he knows that only a few want to become mineralogists or petrologists and treats us like dumbheads who don't know anything about mineralogy and petrology.

May 21, 2009

My Third Field Trip Part 5

This is the 5th and also last part of my whole photo shower. After sixteen days of field work it was finally time to come home again. Before we went back to Berlin, we made one last detour to Eisenach, Thuringia. The town's landmark is the Wartburg Castle which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous because it's the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.

However, we were not interested in the castle itself but in its parking lot because there is a nice outcrop showing an alternating sequence of conglomerates and silty mudstones which represents a combination of proximal and distal alluvial fan deposits.

That is the outcrop at the parking lot. It even is a geological natural monument because of the Wartburg conglomerate which is quite as famous as the Wartburg Castle among German geologists (others too?). The layers of the Wartburg conglomerate start close to the top of the outcrop. Below there are other conglomerates and mudstones of the Eisenach Formation.

This photo shows a very interesting gravel-filled sedimentary dike our professor recently made a publication about in the Zeitschrift der deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften. There are at least 42 of those dikes around but before our professor dealt whith them nobody had never found out what they really are. Our professor assumes that they are artesian injections at the base of the alluvial fans. However, he also questions his hypothesis but still his observations and explanations are very plausible.

Looking back at the sixteen day, I have really learned a lot. It's not only about the geology itself but also about the work methods. I'm looking forward to my next field trips...

Now the report on my two field trips comes to an end. I'm already in delay because the new semester began more than one month ago and there is a lot to write about.

May 17, 2009

My Third Field Trip Part 4

In part 4, I want to share some impressions of the site where we recorded the second stratigraphic profile. It's an old quarry (Steinbruch Schuchardt) near Cornberg, Hesse. Today, it's used for open-air concerts.

This photo shows half of our group having lunch break on sandstones at an artificial lake right in the middle of the old quarry. On the left side you see a ballustrade and a boardwalk. The next photo was taken right next to that boardwalk.

That longish thing on the left next to my hammer is an ichnofossil of Scymnognathus parringtoni. That's an extinct genus of the synapsids. Too many paleontological words? It's a footprint of an extinct reptile.

I took this photo in the museum next to the quarry. Indeed, they really know how to make money. It shows what the region looked like at the time of sedimentation. You also see a Scymnognathus parringtoni leaving its marks.

May 16, 2009

My Third Field Trip Part 3

In part 3, I finally show you something about an outcrop I really know about. It's located close to a small village called Neuerode north of Eschwege, Hesse. We spent one and a half days at this outcrop called "Grillhütte Neuerode". Grillhütte means barbecue cottage.

The outcrop is an old limestone quarry (like so many we saw at our field trip). Even though it was our choice to work at this one, we were a bit desperate at first glance because it looked just like a grey limestone wall. So we ( 'we' actually means our prof) decided to work with a bioturbation index. The dominant facies (80% of the outcrop) is an alternating sequence of grey, poorly up to moderately bioturbated, sometimes sinusoidally deformed marly mudstones and marlstones. Every now and then, there are thin tempestite layers - grey oo-grainstones with some bivalve fragments but of course without any bioturbation - which sometimes appear in association with hardgrounds at the basement. Moreover, we recorded one yellowish bio-floatstone band which possibly stands for another tempest event but a different source area .

This picture is a combination of four merged outcrop photos and my artwork skills. Sometimes, I'm too much into all this graphic stuff but I think that it actually looks pretty nice. The tempestites are shown as grey bands. All in all, we recorded nine of them.

Here you can see what those oo-grainstones of the tempestite layers look like. There even is a bivalve fragment right in the middle of the photo. But, to be honest, it's still a bit boring. The only interesting thing about this outcrop is to combine all the observations so that one gets a comprehensive idea of what the depositional system looked like. Actually, this should be the aim of most work on the stratigraphic record, shouldn't it?

The freestone of the tempestite layers was quarried at three levels. At the base of the second level we found the sedimentary structures shown in the photo. We identified them as Hummocky cross stratification. Together with many other observations, the Hummocky cross stratification helps to reason that the depositional system was a tempest-affected mid continental shelf.

May 12, 2009

My Third Field Trip Part 2

Again, I have to apologize for such a long period of absence. I know, I say it too often but the last weeks were really really busy because I had to finish the mapping report and a poster of the work on one of the stratigraphic profiles of my third field trip. My "problem" is that I always work in a way that I can hand in my workings at the closing date. Others don't. But that is a different topic...

I promised to show more photos of my sedimentology and stratigraphy field trip to Witzenhausen. Here they are. But I have to tell you that I didn't have much time at the outcrops in the following photos because we visisted twelve like these in a bit more than one day.

That's a pretty interesting outcrop showing turbidity current deposits but it actually was quite dangerous because thare were lots of loose rocks on several sections of the outcrop. I'm sure you can imagine that the 28 of us set many of them in motion. Rockfall!

Maybe you don't see any outcrop in this photo at the first glance. To spoil it - it's right at the bottom of the beautiful old castle ruin (Burg Hanstein) in the background. However, the castle is a much frequented tourist attraction and that means our geologist hammers had to stay in the cars. The outcrop shows cross-bedded sandstones. So, the question was: eolian or aquatic? But, please, don't ask me what the correct answer is. Maybe the funny thing is that both are correct. I don't know.

The guys in this photo investigate a small sinkhole. Beacuse that slope and the outcrop in general are freaking steep, I contented myself with taking photos of our adventurers.

In the next part, I'm going to show you the outcrop where we took the stratigraphic profile for the poster.