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B. Mid-Congress field trips

B1. ­ Laacher See volcanism and medieval to industrial cultural history of the East Eifel region
Carsten Münker (University of Cologne)


Full day excursion. This field trip will provide a geo-cultural blend covering 12.900 year old Laacher See volcanism and the cultural history of the region from medieval to early industrial times. The morning is dedicated to deposits of the 12.900 old Laacher See phonolite eruption which is the second youngest in Germany and one of the most massive Plinian eruptions in Europe. We will visit Wingertsbergwand, a world class outcrop illustrating a textbook style combination of different volcanic eruption styles.

Abbey Maria Laach (Foto: Schiblon)

This will be followed by a visit of the ca. 900 year old abbey of Maria Laach with an impressive 13th century basilica. The local brewing culture can be studied over lunch at “Vulkanbrauhaus Mendig”, where a worldwide unique selection of volcano-beers can be tasted. The early industrial history of the region will be explored by a one hour underground tour through the so called “lava cellars”, a large underground mine in a buried tephritic lava flow that has been active since Roman time until the 1960s.

Transport: Coach
Departure: 09:00 a.m.
Return: approx. 5:00 p.m.
Numbers: minimum 25, maximum 60 participants (with separately guided tours for maximum 30 participants).

Special requirements: none
Costs (including lunch and guided tour): 60 €


B2. – Rhenish brown coals and Chateau Paffendorf
Hans-Georg Herbig (University of Cologne)

Full day excursion. Main topic of the excursion is the largest contiguous brown coal mining area in Europe west of Cologne that covers an area of about 250 km². The Rhenish brown coals are generally blackish lignites that originated from extensive Miocene coastal forests and bogs in the Lower Rhine Embayment, a southeastern trending rift of the North Sea, between 23 and 5 million years ago. Since the middle of the 18th century, the coal was mined in larger amounts. Operated by the energy provider RWE, open pit mining commenced in 1955. Currently, three continuously prograding open pit mines – Hambach, Inden, and Garzweiler – have a size of 94 km². Bucket wheel excavators are digging down to 350 m below surface – this means considerably lower than present day sea-level. The largest excavator (see figure above), a steel giant weighing over 13.500 tons overtrumps the NASA Crawler Transporter, hitherto the world largest land vehicle. With its dimensions – nearly 220 meters long and 96 meters high – it can convey up to 204.000 cubic meters of coal and other sediments each day. In total, about 96.2 million tons of lignite are produced annually in the area. The overburden is transported via conveyor belts to exhausted mine areas for refill. This is the first step for recultivation that will create a new landscape composed of farmland, forests and lakes. The other side of the coin is the necessary relocation of several smaller towns and villages with over 40.000 habitants.
During a guided bus tour, about three hours long, you will get the opportunity to get into the open pit mine Garzweiler to see the geology and the excavation techniques. The tour also includes a visit of recultivated areas and a village that will be relocated. Afterwards, if you are free from giddiness, you can walk over the edge of the open pit mine on a breathtaking glass skywalk.

After a short transfer, Chateau Paffendorf will be reached for lunch. Built in the Renaissance style, mostly between 1531 and 1546, it is completely surrounded by a moat. After lunch, served in the inner courtyard or in one of the wings of the site, the large park of the chateau is inviting you to take a walk and to admire the architecture of the building.

Transport: Coach
Departure Group 1: 08.00 a.m.
Departure Group 2: 09:30 a.m. (optional, only if more than 50 persons will participate)
Return Group 1: approx.: 04.30 p.m.
Return Group 2: approx.: 06.00 p.m.
Numbers: minimum 25, maximum 90 participants
Special requirements: Take field boots for visit of the open pit mine and additional shoes to change. If available, bring your own safety goggles: Helmets and safety jackets will be provided.
Costs (including lunch and guided tour): 60 €


B3. – Neanderthal Museum and medieval town of Zons
Sven Hartenfels (University of Cologne)

Full day excursion. The morning is dedicated to the Neanderthals and a time travel through the history of mankind. It includes a visit to the iconic type locality of the first Neanderthal man, discovered in 1856 in cave sediments of Middle Devonian reef limestone. Albeit later completely removed by quarry works, additional bones and artifacts were recovered in the ancient quarry pile in the late Nineties of the last century. Nearby, a guided tour in one of the most modern museums of Europe will enable to hear about the history of mankind from its beginnings more than four million years ago and to admire besides many other objects breath-taking dermoplastic reconstructions of hominids.

After short transfer (about 45 min) the medieval town of Zons will be reached, a unique piece of history, founded in 1373 on the banks of the river Rhine. Still completely engirded by the town wall, it served as customs fortification for the river boats. After lunch served in one of the oldest houses of Zons, you can explore the town on your own, with a guided tour, or simply enjoy the time in one of the beautiful cafes.

Transport: Coach
Departure: 08:45 a.m.
Return approx. 5:15 p.m.
Numbers: minimum 25, maximum 90 participants (with separately guided tours for maximum 30 participants)
Special requirements: none
Costs (including lunch and guided tours): 60,- Euros


B4 – Guided city tour – the history of Cologne
External guide

Excursion (about 2 ½ hours). Cologne was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans on the banks of the river Rhine. It functioned as the headquarter of the Roman military in the region and capital of a Roman province until occupied by Frankish tribes in 462. During medieval times, the city flourished due to its place at the intersection of the major trade routes from Northern Italy to The Netherlands, and from Western to Eastern Europe. Counting about 50,000–55,000 inhabitants around the year 1300, it grew to one of the largest cities North of the Alps. During Napolean times it became part of the French Empire – actually the fancy soldier costumes of the world-known Rhenish Carnival result from these days. After World War I, the city was occupied by the British for several years. Heavily bombed and almost completely destroyed during World War II, the city nowadays has a very unique cityscape, from well preserved Roman relicts to contemporary architecture. The intermingling of cultures since Roman days also created a unique population, further shaped in our days by students, businessmen, visitors, and immigrants from all over the world. Cologne is the fourth biggest German city with somewhat more than one million inhabitants.

The best way to discover Cologne is the way the Romans did – on foot. During the guided tour you will discover the historical center of the city adjacent to the Cathedral, which is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. You will see Roman relicts, Romanesque churches, medieval houses and city gates, the impressive town hall and other places of interest. The stroll through narrow, cobbled streets and across vibrant squares will give you a feeling of the life in the city, as it was in the past – and as it is today.

Meeting point: final – a detached copy of the tip of the cathedrals’s spire – opposite the main entrance of the Cologne Cathedral
Group 1: 10:00 a.m.
Group 2: 02:00 p.m. (optional, only if more than 30 persons will participate)
Duration: about 2 ½ hours
Numbers: minimum 25, maximum 60 participants
Special requirements: none
Costs: 10 €