On the first field trip, I went to a region in the east of Bavaria called Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) with six other geophysics students of Freie Universitaet Berlin to conduct geomagnetic, gravimetric, geoelectric and self-potential measurements. Unfortunately, we didn't do any seismics but it still was an interesting week in the hilly countryside of Upper Palatinate.
hilly Upper Palatinate countryside with the Parkstein basalt outcrop the background
Even though Upper Palatinate is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Germany, you might have heard of it before because of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program KTB which has its drilling site close to the small town of Windischeschenbach. The 83 m tall drill rig is a real landmark.
KTB drilling site near Windischeschenbach
The second field trip was all about Germany's petroleum industry which is mainly based in Lower Saxony. I was really excited about this trip because I make no secret of my ambition to work in the petroleum industry.
Coming from Bavaria with a stopover in Berlin to pick up the other students, I spent nearly 870 km on German highways heading to Cuxhaven. But all this was compensated at the same day because I arrived right on time at the North Sea for a wonderful sunset on the beach.
sunset over the North Sea
Duhnen beach near Cuxhaven during ebb tide
On the next day, the majority of our group visited the artificial island Mittelplate which holds a RWE Dea drilling and production facility of the same name. Unfortunately, RWE Dea only allowed ten people to participate. So, our professor, three other students and I visited the German island of Heligoland instead. And to be honest, I really don't regret that decision because it was a lovely day. Heligoland is not only a tourist destination but also a great playground for geologists because it holds Northern Germany's largest outcrop showing Bundsandstein (Lower Triassic sandstones) lying on top of a Permian Zechstein salt diapir.
Buntsandstein outcrop on Heligoland
famous stack Lange Anna on Heligoland
My next stop was the RWE Dea onshore drilling site Boestlingen Z2 at the rim of the NATO Bergen-Hohne Training Area. It's so close to the military training area that I could hear the impacts of some tank missiles.
Boestlingen Z2 drill rig
I also took some photos of the blowout preventer at the bottom of the 62 m tall drilling rig. A BOP is a system of valves used to control the borehole and prevent uncontrolled flow (called kicks). Such a kick caused the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon had a similar one, just way bigger and stronger but it failed to block the gas kick from reaching the rig.
blowout preventer at drilling site Boestlingen Z2
I also visited the Baker Hughes Research & Maintenance Facility in Celle, the ExxonMobil Production Germany headquarters in Hanover and the ExxonMobil Core Repository in the middle of nowhere between Celle and Hanover but I can't show you any photos of these because I wasn't allowed to take any. Nonetheless, all these stops were quite interesting because the manpower, the technical expertise and the budget of these companies is mind-blowing.
Now, I’m back from field work and just like every time I return to Berlin, the city appears to be really hectic and loud. It's just like a huge organism I need to get used to again. Nevertheless, I appreciate being home again.