Field Trip A (23 September 2018): geology and geomorphology of Giessen and its surrounding areas
This field trip is intended to present an introduction to the geological and geomorphological evolution of Giessen and its surrounding areas (Fig. 1). The conference location of Giessen is located at the intersection of three major geological and morphological units: the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge (Rhenish Massif) to the west, the Hessische Senke (Hessian Depression) to the north and south and the Vogelsberg volcanic field to the east (Fig. 2). The rocks of the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge (Rhenish Massif) were formed during Paleozoic times, in the context of the Variscan orogeny. Dominant rock types include graywacke, slate, quartzite, and limestone, as well as mafic and felsic volcanics and their related pyroclastics. The area north and south of Giessen is dominated by the Hessische Senke (Hessian Depression), a north–south-trending subsidence area with several individual deposit segments. Due to Cenozoic tectonic activity, the Hessian Depression can be regarded as a connecting segment between the prominent Upper Rhine Graben and the smaller graben structures of northern Germany, and this is also documented by less consolidated Tertiary and Quaternary sediments. Long-lasting subsidence of the Hessian Depression, however, is indicated by the presence of Permian and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks. Rotliegend rocks are present towards the southwest rim of the Vogelsberg volcanic field and the Hanau-Seligenstädter Senke. Minor occurrences of Zechstein rocks are exposed along the Lahn valley between Giessen and Marburg. Mesozoic strata are dominated by Buntsandstein and are widespread in the Marburg area, with Muschelkalk and Keuper rocks being restricted to small erosional remnants in tectonic graben structures. The area to the east of Giessen is dominated by the Miocene Vogelsberg volcanic field, where an estimated area of 2500 km2 is covered by volcanic rocks of varying thickness, the Vogelsberg thus being the largest volcanic field of central Europe. The field trip provides an introduction to the geology, earth history and geomorphological characteristics of Giessen and its surrounding areas. We will therefore encounter rocks that formed in distinct geodynamic environments and within a timespan of roughly 400 Ma (Devonian to present).