Fieldwork in Germany - Ries Crater

Unit code EART30512

Our Year 3 Planetary Science field course to the Ries impact crater in Germany explores the causes, effects and resultant geological rock formations associated with the impact cratering process. The fieldtrip provides important context for understanding impact cratering on the Moon and Mars, and relates knowledge and understanding gained from planetary taught courses
  • When is the fieldtrip?

    The field trip is for 8 days during the Easter vacation period in Year 3. Five days are spent in the field and 3 are in the classroom in Manchester.

    Fieldwork will be from 9am to 5:30 pm each day. Evenings are spent discussing the day's activities.

  • Where is the fieldtrip?

    You will be staying in the town of Nörlingen in Bavaria. 

    Accommodation is a bed and breakfast hotel.

  • How will we travel to Germany?

    Travel to and from Ries Crater will be by plane from Manchester and minibus in Germany. Further details will be provided closer to the time of the trip.

  • 2015
  • What will I learn?

    The course will introduce students in the field to the variety of factors affecting impact structures and the range of mineralogical, petrographic and geomorphological features they produce. A subsidiary aim is to develop transferable skills of planning, executing and presenting a project in a team to a tight deadline.

    You will gain:

    Intelluctual skills

    • be able to apply concepts covered in the course to understand new observations.

    Practical skills

    • have researched a field area;
    • designed and produced a field handbook;
    • given a presentation of teh field area to a tight schedule.

    Transferable skills and personal qualities

    • have gained insight into how a team can efficiently address a problem in Earth sciences, including:

                     - becoming familiar with the types of people that may be encountered in teams;

                     - collectively planning and executing a work programme to achieve a complex objective;

                     - planning and executing subsiary tasks within this work programme;

                     - learning how to undertake field work health and safety planning (familiarisation with self-check lists and risk assessments). 


    By the end of the course-unit the successful student should:

    • be able to describe and interpret the key mineralogical, petrographic and geomorphological features of impact structures;
    • be familiar with how the target material of the Ries and Steinheim impact sites responded to processes during and after the imapct to produce the structures observed today;
    • be able to compare and contrast the impact structures at Nördlingen with those on the other terrestrial planets (comparative planetology).


  • What equipment will I need?

    Essential field course items are:

    • normal field equipment and attire, including appropriate footwear such as hiking boots.
  • How will the field course be assessed?

    Assessment is based upon both teamwork and individual contribution as follows:

    • field guide [50%];
    • field interpretation [20%];
    • classroom presentation [10%];
    • debriefs [10%]
    • quiz [10%]
  • Who can I contact regarding the Germany field course?

    For more information visit the course unit specification or email course leaders Dr Katherine Joy or Prof Jamie Gilmour.

  • What our students say

    Tim Gregory 2015

    Timothy Gregory

    "The field trip to the impact crater in Ries was the best week of my undergraduate degree. It was the perfect mix between field geology and planetary science in a stunning area of Germany."

    Did you know?

    The Ries impact crater and its sister Steinheim impact crater in Germany are two of the best preserved complex impact structures on Earth. They are excellent analogue sites for understanding the impact cratering process on other planetary systems. You will walk in the steps of the Apollo astronauts who trained at the crater as you explore its geology.

    More about the Ries impact crater

    You can find out more about previous visits by SEES students to the Ries impact crater on the Earth and Solar System blog.

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