Field trip to Ries Crater in Germany for ISU MSS17 Class


Hernan Barrio a Master of Space Studies MSS17 participant reports on a field trip to the Ries crater in Western Bavaria, Germany. The Nördlinger Ries is a large circular depression, interpreted as a meteorite impact crater formed about 14.3 million–14.5 million years ago.

The original crater rim had an estimated diameter of 24 kilometers.

"The visit to the Ries crater started as other professional visits, with a mixture of motivation and desire to sleep. The bus ride was long but suddenly a notable change in the landscape drew the attention. The sun had come out to light a sea of green, a flatland covered in grass hosting the pretty little town of Nördlingen.

Our guide, Dr. Gisela Poesges, accompanied us to our first destination, the Lindle quarry, home to one of the megablocks ejected by the fall of the meteorite that created the Ries crater. Dr. Poesges proceeded to explain the geological composition of the landscape formed by such an impact, pointing that this type of crater is useful to find the composition of the inner layer of Earth since the impact surfaced many of otherwise deeply buried minerals.

After a very enjoyable and traditional German lunch at a Jagdhaus Alteburg, we walked to the Alteburg by quarry where we did some hiking as well as seeing and analyzing two different types of rocks formed in the impact. After that we went back to Nördlingen to visit the Ries Crater Museum for a very informative end to the visit.

Finally, we were able to explore the town for a bit, having enough time to climb up the Saint George's church to have a breathtaking panoramic view of the city."