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Roger Weller, geology instructor
German salt deposits
by John Beech
German Salt Mines
The goal of this paper is to broaden the knowledge about the German Salt Mines/deposits. I will discuss where it is located, the formation of the salt mines, and its uses.
The German salt mines and deposits were found in the Northern
Basin of Germany. For an idea of where it is located; the North German Basin
extends as far north as the coasts of the Baltic and North Seas; the Central
Uplands (also known as Mittelgebirge) to the south; to the lower Saxony hills to
the west; and to Poland to the east. In the map below, the dark green area is a
good representation for where the North German Basin is located.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1: Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia
Within the Basin, some major terrain features include the Elbe River, the Oder River; and major cities including Hamburg, Hannover, and Bremerhaven. Also this area is of major military importance because of major naval ports and two key European invasion points using the two seas as access points. To be brought up later, this salt rich area is also vital in storage of chemical wastes.
dome of the North German Basin was created roughly 250 million years ago, during
the Permian Period. This time consisted of a warm and arid climate in which
large amounts of salt were deposited after the evaporation of the oceans. This
created large structures and formations that make up part of the North German
Research done today, has proven that there is very
little “geochemical” change that has occurred in the salt today since it was
first created about 200-250 million years ago. This process was did not just
occur. According to a German website (Origin of a Salt Dome), the deposits
continued to build during the Triassic period which occurred 205 million years
ago, the Jurassic which was 135 million years ago, and the Cretaceous which took
place only 65 millions of years ago.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 2: Courtesy of "Origin of a Salt Dome"
The Figure above demonstrates the continuing building up of the salt throughout the Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. As more salt water evaporates, more of the salt is deposited.
One of the
main uses for the salt deposits is chemical waste disposal. The central area of
the deposit is what works for the disposal of waste (Salt Deposits).
The process consists of drilling deep into the center.
The oldest area of the deposit has the most protection due to the buildup of the
salt and rock around it. Then the chemical waste is placed inside. Following
this, the hole is then refilled with rock and salt, packing it in tight so that
no waste can escape.
After all of this, with the passage of time, the waste
soaks into the salt naturally, and the risk of the waste is no longer there
seeing that salt acts as a natural purifier.
In the German salt deposits, a hollow space was created
in 1909. The space was completely filled by 1960. The rock pressures keep this
area contained and safe.
Another use of the German salt deposits is tourism.
Though it is located in southern Poland, it is still considered part of the
German Salt deposits. The town of Wieliczka is home to an incredibly long
running table salt mine that ran from “the 13th Century to 2007”
(Wikipedia), and is known as the “world’s oldest operating salt mine”.
The tourism aspect comes from the massive structures
built from the rock salt in the mine. These include statues and even a cathedral
completely built from salt. According to a Wikipedia article on the Wieliczka
Salt Mine, there is a tour that consists a 3.5 kilometer route which is only
about one percent of the total mine length.
According to a travel guide to the mine, a French
observer stated: “the Wieliczka salt mine was no less magnificent than the
Egyptian pyramids”. The mine is now part of the World Heritage Register of
The history of the mine has been demonstrated in books
and motion pictures, but the mine is mostly known for its use by the Nazi
Germans for “war-related industries”.
The picture below is a rock salt carving of the late Pope John Paul II.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 3: Courtesy of Wikipedia
In conclusion, the German Salt mines/deposits have proved themselves useful throughout hundreds of years. Whether it is to safely store chemical waste, or to house military industrial sites, or even to promote economic growth through tourism, the uses and profits are endless. The location being of both great military strategic and easy access for import and export has also proven itself useful. The natural phenomenon has once again proven to benefit the occupants of Earth.
Ascent, During The. "Orgin of a
Salt Dome - Endlagerung in Deutschland."
Endlagerung in Deutschland - Endlagerung in Deutschland. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
Flag/Germany. Web. 25 Apr. 2010.
the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Apr. 2010.
"North German Plain." Wikipedia,
the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
"Salt Deposits - Endlagerung in
Deutschland." Endlagerung in Deutschland -
Endlagerung in Deutschland. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.
"Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow |
Ancient Salt Mine in Poland.
" Krakow Info | Krakow in Poland | Cracow. Web. 25 Apr. 2010.
"Wieliczka Salt Mine."
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Apr. 2010.