Ries Crater Making a Huge Impact on ISU MSS18 Participants

Rene Horacio Michel Valencia, an ISU Master of Space Studies MSS18 participant reports on the last field trip of the year, which took place in March 2018. "Eigentlich weiß man nur, wenn man wenig weiß. Mit dem Wissen wächst der Zweifel." Goethe

Ries Crater was considered to be of volcanic origin until in 1960 Eugene Shoemaker stated that in reality, it was the consequence of the impact of a meteorite some 14.3 to 14.5 millions of years ago. Shoemaker kick-started a torrent of activities that preserved the crater, communicated the findings and pushed forward the understanding of cratering and, as Goethe said, opened the path to a multidisciplinary set of research.

Our field trip was divided into three phases.
During the first one, we visited the Lindle Quarry, where Dr. Gisele Poesges showed the Bunte Breccie and explained the formation of the coesite that was a key factor to prove that the crater does not have a volcanic origin since this can form by the shock associated to a meteorite impact.

Then, we walked to the Altenburg Quarry, a quarry which is rich in suevite, a rock that contains melted material such as crystal fragments formed during the impact.
The last part of the field trip was a guided visit to the Ries Crater Museum in Nördlingen, where we were able to see samples of meteorites. The most critical piece of learning was to understand how the impact of a meteorite can leave a well-defined footprint even on something as hard as a rock.

The informal phase of the field trip had two main components.
1.  The delicious lunch in the picturesque restaurant in the middle of the forest, close to the quarries.
2. Wandering around the city, watching a beautiful landscape.

It was our last official field trip as MSS18, and thanks to Dr. Poesges and Dr. Mader the experience was delightful. However, it would not have been so successful without International Space University faculty Prof Damann, and Prof Hill, the organizer of this visit.

“Como quisiera vivir la vida entera, como estudiante en día de la primavera.” Rene Horacio Michel Valencia, ISU MSS18.