Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


6.10.13
  More Hiking Tours on the Hoher Meissner

Well, the conference that kept me busy the last weeks is over; I got some time off to recompense the overtime, and because of the fine weather those last days, we did some more hiking. Here are some photos.

Pines on the High Meissner Plateau

We did some tours in and around the Hoher Meissner last year but there's more to explore. The highest part of the Meissner proper is not a peak but a plateau that rises up to 754 metres. The mountain itself measures about 8 kilometres (north-south) to 4 km (east-west).

Fine weather in autumn often means hazy air, but this view is still pretty scenic.

View from the high plateau

The geological history of the Meissner goes all the way back to the Variscan orogenesis about 350 million years ago, which is the foundation of most of the mountains in Germany (except for the Alpes). Traces of this stage can still be seen in the Devil's Valley (Höllental) with its 350 million year old diabase and greywacke formations.

Diabase cliffs in the Devil's Valley

Diabase is an igneous (solidified magma or lava; diabase is actually formed at a state in between) subvolcanic rock that emerged from the earth crust in underwater conditions. Greywacke is a very hard sandstone with an irregular structure and badly sorted inclusions of feldspar, quarz, and small pebbles. Both rocks are typical for the Variscan orogenesis.

View from the Bilstein to the Devil's Valley

The history of the rocks which I personally find rather interesting, aside, the views can be beautiful, like this one that was totally worth the climb.

As mentioned in a prior post, remains of the 250 million year old dolomite cliffs of the Zechstein Sea can be seen in the foothills to the north, but the rest of the geological development of the Meissner is much younger.

Basalt pillars in the Kitzkammer

The uppermost layer of the main massive consists mostly of basalt from the early Miocene (23 - 5.3 million years ago), the beginning of the series of ice ages. Additional surface changes came about in the Pleistocene (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago) mostly by glacial shifts which left behind basalt boulders on the slopes, like the Sea Stones below.

Cave in the Kitzkammer formation

The Kitzkammer, which looks a bit like a small version of the formations at Staffa, developed from sub-aquine volcanic activity. The pillars are an olivine basalt rich in glass. The sea levels in the early Miocene were higher than today.

Sea Stone boulders (Seesteine)

The other interesting rock formation was likely caused by a landslide that deposited a group of bizarre basalt rocks at the southern slope of the Meissner, near a little lake that has fallen dry during the last century. They are called the Sea Stones. They are also olivine basalt though with a lower percentage of glass.

Another view of the Sea Stones

Under the layer of basalt lies a 12-15 metres thick layer of brown coal from the Tertiary, as already mentioned in my first post about the Meissner (see link above); the remains of a drowned forest.

Esp. the Kitzkammer was a bit tricky to reach, but some rock hopping and crossing a brook was worth the photo motives.
 
Comments:
I like the views, they remind me of the Big Horn Mountains here in Wyoming. Glad you did your rock hopping to bring us interesting pics. :)
 
Thank you, Constance.

Most of my readers seem to like rocks better in the shape of castles and cathedrals, but I find the wild ones cool, too. :-)
 
Hope the conference went well!
The basalt pillars at the Kitzkammer look amazing. I thought of Staffa and the Giants' Causeway even before reading your caption.
 
Post a Comment

<< Home


The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


e-mail

Twitter