Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ingelfingen - part II

The reason I went to Ingelfingen in the first place was to see the Muschelkalk Museum which is housed there. I expected it to be quite small, given the nature of Ingelfingen itself, however I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was three floors and very thorough. Unfortunately the displays were all in German, so I couldn't really expand on my knowledge of the European Triassic, but some of the fossils were really quite spectacular.

The Muschelkalk is a Triassic limestone (more or less 230 million years old) and was, so the theory goes, deposited in a shallow sea. This led to the deposition of various evaporites (aka. salts), which were then mined commercially in the Middle ages. This was the major industry in Schwäbisch Hall, and explains its existence as a town. The Muschelkalk is also the #1 building stone in Schwäbisch Hall - everything from the town walls to the Goethe-Institut to the modern art gallery to the retaining walls and decorative boulders in the parks are built using this stone.

Gratuitous photo of bridge . . . made out of Muschelkalk
The Muschelkalk is truly delightful from my perspective because it is so highly fossiliferous. Different layers have different fossils, and in Schwäbisch Hall, crinoid ossicles and massive deposits of shells feature prominently. Muschelkalk actually translates as "Mussel limestone" so the number of shells isn't really surprising.

An example from the park, of shelly Muschelkalk
However, because finding fossils just doesn't get old for me, I was extremely excited to find this reptile bone along my running route, and now I have a compulsive urge to look at all the retaining walls and building stones where ever I go. Success has clearly gone to my head.

Okay, so it's not much to look at but I'm easily pleased.
So, this is why I went to Ingelfingen, to see what the really good Muschelkalk fossils looked like - those that haven't been dressed into building stones or stepped on by 100 years of pedestrian traffic. I'm going to see if I can go for a tour of the quarry in Schwäbisch Hall next month. What would I do without obsession? I'd have to learn to knit or something.

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