29 November, 2015

DTTG Workshop 2017

It passed my attention but now I noticed the first announcement for the next and 7th international DTTG (German-Austrian-Swiss Clay Group) Workshop on qualitative and quantitative analysis of clays and clay minerals to be held in at the University of Greiswald, February 20th to 27th 2017. Georg Grathoff and Lawrence Warr will be the organisers, whom I met at several occasions and they are both great clay scientists. The announcement comes way ahead of time but I can recommend this workshop whole-heartedly. It is extremely popular and places will fill-up fast. I have been lucky enough to personally participate in the 5th DTTG Workshop 2013 at the KIT Karlsruhe. It was great! Having all the people you usually only know from paper titles concentrated for a week into one room makes for an excellent atmosphere of knowlege transfer, networking with other clay science PhD students, and great conversations! I have also been to Greifswald some years ago, and it is a quiet but very nice town located at the Baltic Sea. Well worth a visit!

The course summary from the DTTG website:
The workshop focuses on the needs of graduate students and PhD students in the field of clay science. The workshop is also open for scientists and people working in industry who are interested in clay science. The workshop will be consist of theoretical lectures and laboratory exercises. Therefore, the number of participants is limited to 15 persons.

Topics of the workshop are: Different aspects of XRD of clay minerals including QPA with the Rietveld method, physicochemical properties of clay minerals and their quantification (CEC, charge, surface), simultaneous thermal analysis, aspects of sorption, as well as the application of electron microscopy and infrared spectroscopy in clay research.

07 November, 2015

Fossil roots in tuffites & bentonite deposits, Southern Germany

Yesterday I joined #FossilFriday on Twitter. It made me realize how many images of fossil roots I actually have. I am not a palaeontologist, most of them will never make it into a publication. So, let's share here! All images were taken during my doctoral research in bentonite mines in Southern Germany. The Mid-Miocene bentonite deposits of the Upper Freshwater Molasse are often associated with so called "Harte Platte" (English: hard plate) - a descriptive term for hard clay of little economic value. The hard clays are usually composed of partially altered tuffites, silified bentonite or sandstone-like horizons, and are common in deposits of a thickness of roughly 3 meters and more. While the hard clays are economically useless, their reduced shrink-swell capacity and stiffer composition is probably the reason for an often excellent preservation of fossil root features! Unfortunately, I lack the in depth palaeobotanical expertise to identify the plants they are from. However, based on their large size they must once have been quite impressive trees or shrubs that, based on the literature on depositional settings, grew in wetland settings. I also have a number of thin-sections and SEM images of well-preserved root features that I use as side-notes in an upcoming publication. But if anyone knows if it is possible to use root morphology to do more than "tree" or "shrub" let me know! The upside is always at the top of each image.

This is the image I used for #FossilFriday depicted a loam-filled root mold. It is one of the largest root molds I found.

This down-ward branching examples is part of a finely bedded, almost laminated tuffite. The tiny circular objects are sectional views of more "roots". These examples were replaced by silica.

More branching root features. Filled with a mix of loam and carbonates.

Cross-section of silica-rich root trace with central root channel? Diameter ~ 1.5 cm.

Fe-Mn-stained roots about 1 cm in diameter.

Almost vertical loam-filled root features in an almost 4 m thick tuffite.