Students' field research extends knowledge of origin of a UNESCO World Heritage site in Germany



In 1992, as part of field-based course work with the Earth science department of the Universität Minz, students began to investigate the structures of oil shale basins located in the Sprendlinger Horst, a horst-type block forming the northeastern shoulder of the Tertiary Upper Rhine Graben in southwestern Germany (figure 1). The Sprendlinger Horst is mainly built up by Hercynian or pre-Hercynian basement, Permian sediments, and volcanic rocks, as well as by several Tertiary alkali basalts and rare Cretaceous trachytes. In 1992, it was unknown whether the oil shale basins were of tectonic, volcanic, or even of impact origin.