Light at the end of the well: A compact and low-cost DIY water level meter
Institute of Applied Geosciences, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
Goundwater level data are a crucial element of water resources assessments. Corresponding measurements are often carried out with electric water level tapes, which are – despite their simple concept – relatively expensive. Here, I present a low-cost alternative, consisting of an ordinary measuring tape and an off-the-shelf “LED bait” (actually used for fishing). The latter is simply attached to the tape with a binder clip and starts flashing upon water contact. At reasonable depth-to-water conditions (<30 m), this light signal can be seen from the wellhead.
While the basic concept of a light-emitting, self-contained probe had already been harnessed in the 1930s by the company Spohr (Frankfurt, Germany), its use has been greatly facilitated by the emergence of LED baits that are available for a few Euros. Repurposing a consumer product, designed for an entirely different purpose, has hence enabled a fit-for-purpose device that can be built by anyone at a fraction of the costs of a traditional electric water level tape.
This water level meter “hack” provides a DIY tool for researchers and practitioners on a tight budget and a compact backup for others. Moreover, school or citizen science projects could benefit from this easy-to-build and low-cost alternative.
Further details can be found in a related publication (Michelsen, 2021).
Michelsen, N., 2021. A compact and low-cost do-it-yourself water level meter. Hydrological Processes, 35(5), e14205, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.14205
The image of geoscience among student teachers of geography
1Department for Earth and Environmental Sciences, LMU Munich, Germany; 2Department for Environmental Sciences and Geography, University of Potsdam
Within the framework of a study focusing on teacher training in geography at the University of Potsdam, the range of perspectives on the topics of physical geography was investigated. The starting point is that physical geography and human geography represent the main components of school geography teaching . This idea is motivated by the model of geography by Weichert (2003).
Initially, physical and human geography content seemed to be present in the curriculum in roughly equal proportions. However, a closer look reveals that human geography has a greater prominence. Physical geography is largely "shunted off" to elective modules and thus subliminally portrayed as less important to students.
The study presented here focuses on students' subjective views of physical geography. The results of the guided, semi-narrative interview study show that the majority of the students interviewed have a positive view of physical geography. However, students with neutral and negative views are also found. These negative views seem to result predominantly from the structure of the course. There seems to be an urgent need for action here, if physical geographic working methods, concepts and knowledge are to be taught as key competencies in school lessons as well.
The Museum Mineralogia München (SNSB), a geoscientific place of education
Mineralogical State Collection Munich, SNSB and Ludwig Maximilians University, LMU, Germany
The Museum Mineralogia München represents the museum window of the Mineralogical State Collection Munich (SNSB). It shows constantly reprocessed geoscientific topics through diverse special and permanent exhibitions.
In addition, there are numerous exhibitions that are particularly well suited to natural science school content. Topics such as volcanism, symmetry, metamorphosis or the chemistry of pigments are worth mentioning here. It is important to us that the projects can be attended by children and young people and cover a wide range of scientific, artistic and creative areas. Thus, the topic of metamorphosis has appealed to students and teachers from the subjects of geology, biology, geography, music and art.
In addition to guided tours and projects lasting several hours, our museum also offers project weeks or its own museum work in P and W school seminars as part of the LeLa (Lernort Labor) or Muc-Labs (Münchner Schülerlabore) initiative in Germany.
The aim is always to make minerals, crystals, rocks and meteorites " touchable" and “tangible” and to explore them scientifically with the children using simple but also modern methods. The interest in nature should be awakened, because only what you know and appreciate you can protect and love.
Raw materials for our everyday life in the context of museum education
Mineralogische Staatssammlung München (SNSB-MSM) / LMU München, Germany
The need of raw materials for our society and our everyday life steadily increased during the last decades. In particular, the technological development demands for a secure supply as well as increasingly more metals. Therefore, a secured supply of raw materials is crucial for the economy worldwide. The supply risks of metals due to limited availability from only few countries became a political debate during the last decade, .i.e. defining the term critical raw materials. One essential aspect of critical raw materials are mineralogical and geoscientific questions as minerals host the valuable metals that we need for our technology. Therefore, also a mineralogical museum should deal with education for children, teenagers and adults of mineral raw materials and there need for our everyday life. The important link is to demonstrate them what kind of metals are inside in a smartphone. Looking at a world map and explaining where the minerals in our smartphones come from and what are the mineralogical and geological reasons for the enrichment of certain minerals in specific areas worldwide can be explained during workshops. This also allows the link to political consideration by discussion how small scale mining of minerals is used to finance conflicts such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, regional raw materials are important to be included in this discussion. The aim is to increase the awareness of the large variety of metals installed in the technical development combined with environmental concerns.
The Early Bird in STEM Education – The PepperMINT Project
Research Center of Post-Mining, Technische Hochschule Georg Agricola, Germany
In order to cope with the wide-ranging field of geoscientific and geotechnical research it is essential to invest in the education of the next generation’s scientists and engineers. Many German high-school graduates decide to pursue a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree. Unfortunately, the dropout rates in STEM education are high and students struggle with basic subjects like science and mathematics where they are lacking knowledge from school . With the project “PepperMINT“, funded by RAG-Stiftung, we present a new approach to close gaps in school STEM education and prepare freshmen for a successful beginning of their studies. PepperMINT is developed as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) hosted by TH Georg Agricola (THGA), offering digital courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. Students will be introduced to the lectures and exercises of the THGA by the integration of interactive and applied examples. For example, the mathematics module of trigonometry can be taught by applying geotechnical-surveying technology or geomonitoring methods like earth-observation. The concept allows students to get to know the area of geoscience and geotechnical engineering before they decide in which area they want to pursue their academic career. With the conception of a MOOC, the e-learning platform can be used independently from the location and available time. The project PepperMINT has the potential to gain attention from pupils and students all over Germany, to attract the geoscientists and engineers of the next generation and will therefore improve the value chain of mining and the circular economy.
GEOWiki@Schule – eine geowissenschaftliche Online-Lernplattform für den Schulunterricht
1LMU Munich, Germany; 2Mineralogical State Collection (SNSB-MSM), Germany; 3CAU Kiel, Germany
Das GEOWiki@Schule ist ein Teilbereich der frei zugänglichen Online-Lernplattform GEOWiki@LMU, das derzeit auf Initiative von Lehramtsstudent:innen entsteht. Ziel ist es Schüler:innen und Lehrer:innen für die faszinierende Welt der Geowissenschaften zu begeistern und sie mit den geowissenschaftlichen Methoden vertraut zu machen. Hierfür sollen geowissenschaftliche Themen und Konzepte so aufbereitet werden, dass sie für Laien und Kinder unterschiedlicher Altersklassen nachvollziehbar sind und problemlos im Schulunterricht eingesetzt werden können. Die Artikel sind dabei in mehreren Ebenen aufgebaut:
Im Schülerbereich werden die verschiedenen Themen mit anschaulichen Graphiken übersichtlich behandelt und in einer für Schüler:innen verständliche Sprache aufbereitet. Der Fokus liegt dabei u.a. auch darauf, nicht nur geowissenschaftliche Konzepte, wie z.B. Plattentektonik, zu erklären, sondern auch zu vermitteln, mit Hilfe welcher Daten und Methoden das jeweilige Konzept oder Modell entwickelt werden konnte. Hiermit werden (geo-)wissenschaftliche Arbeitsweisen und der Umgang damit vermittelt und transparent gemacht. Ein Schwerpunkt von GEOWiki@Schule ist die Frage: Woher weiß man das? Bei Interesse können Leser:innen ihr Hintergrund- und Methodenwissen durch die Interlinks mit anderen Artikeln im GEOWiki@LMU erweitern. Zudem werden Fachbegriffe im Wörterbuch des GExikOns erklärt und in den Artikeln verlinkt.
Im Lehrerbereich werden darüber hinaus Anregungen für praktische Lehreinheiten sowie mögliche Exkursionen für den Unterricht an externen Lernorten gegeben. Zudem werden pädagogische Angebote wissenschaftlicher Einrichtungen, die im Schulunterricht zum Einsatz kommen können, in einer „Link-Sammlung“ vorgestellt, sodass sie von interessierten Lehrer:innen schnell und einfach gefunden werden können.
From Volcanoes to Glaciers – The importance of geoscientific research during the site-selection procedure for a high-level nuclear waste repository in Germany
Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE), Germany
After implementation of the Repository Site Selection Act (StandAG) in 2017, the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal mbH (BGE mbH), as the German waste-management organization, started the site-selection procedure for a nuclear repository for high-level radioactive waste in Germany. On the way towards the repository site with the best possible safety, the site-selection procedure is required to be a participatory, transparent, learning and self-questioning process based on scientific expertise. With an Interim Report published in 2020, first results were presented, outlining sub-areas with favorable geological conditions in preparation for defining the site regions for surface exploration.
The next phases of the site selection procedure will require detailed geoscientific research outcomes to improve the understanding of various geological processes. This information is a prerequisite to assess the properties of the geological barrier and to constrain future developments of the geological system, hosting the nuclear repository within the next 1 million years. Therefore, research funded by the BGE covers various geoscientific subjects, ranging from volcanism to glacial erosion and computational geosciences.
With this contribution, the BGE intends to highlight some of its scientific key projects within the current step in the site-selection program. Scientific collaborators are different players including the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), German Universities and specialized companies with a wide range of expertise that will support the required learning, self-questioning and science-based site-selection procedure for a nuclear repository for high-level radioactive waste in Germany.
Europe’s resilience on raw materials – how did GeoERA contribute
1Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR), Hannover, Germany; 2Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia, I.P. (LNEG), Lisbon, Portugal; 3De nationale geologiske undersøgelser for Danmark og Grønland (GEUS); 4Norges geologiske undersøkelse (NGU), Trondheim, Norway; 5Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), Madrid, Spain
Europe’s Green Transition is a declared key political goal in the European Union. The technology needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 relies heavily on metals and minerals. Responsible sourcing and short travel distances of the required materials make a positive contribution to an environmental balance. In addition, raw materials make an important contribution to the well-being of a society. Hence, the United Nations sees raw materials as the key component for achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The European Green Deal (COM(2019) 640 final) of the European Union and the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved without additional quantities and new technological applications of raw materials. Yet, many of the minerals and metals are rarely mined or processed in Europe and are therefore considered "Critical". At the same time, the demand for responsible procurement under ethically, socially and ecologically sound conditions is becoming more and more stringent and demands personal responsibility.
GeoERA Raw Materials is a first step to take our share of responsibility to ensure responsible sourcing from domestic sources. The four projects EUROLITHOS, FRAME, MINDeSEA, and MINTELL4EU share expertise, information focussing on European on- and off-shore resources. It is among the tasks of the GeoERA raw material projects to know and evaluate in a comparable way the raw materials present in the geology under our feet and to visualize these results in accessible, harmonised databases, maps and publications. Outlining favourable areas for new RM deposits holds great potential for future generations.
New raw materials from old mines? – Examples from historic mining sites in Europe
Europe is largely dependent on raw materials imports and has to supply its needs, especially of critical raw materials, from international sources. Nevertheless, Europe also has a long lasting mining history and some deposits have been mined continuously even for hundreds of years.
Within the GeoERA the project FRAME investigates traditional mining sites and their raw material potential. In addition to the main commodities of these historic deposits, the project focuses on strategic raw materials (SRM) such as e.g. high-tech metals extracted as by-products and critical raw materials of the EU actual list. These raw materials might be contained in the ore or in residues from the nowadays abandoned mining and beneficiation activities.
The project aims at improving knowledge regarding the potential of historic mine sites and contributes to improving pan-European geological information on historic mine sites. Case studies investigate specific deposits for their raw material potential. Different sources of data like national databases, literature, previous projects and expert information by the project partners were used to review and collect site-specific data on historic mine sites and their potential for SRM. Fieldwork and sampling added new data.
The project will feed site-specific data of ore deposits and mine wastes with CRM potential into the pan-European knowledge base on raw materials: the GeoERA Information Platform.
This project is part of FRAME, with is part of the GeoERA project (www.geoera.eu) co-funded through the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 731166.
Constraining ore-forming processes of the sediment-hosted Dolostone Ore Formation copper-cobalt mineralization, northwestern Namibia: a sulfide trace element study
1Montanuniversität Leoben, Leoben, Austria; 2Gecko Namibia, Swakopmund, Namibia
Exploration was recently carried out on the sediment-hosted Dolostone Ore Formation (DOF) Cu-Co mineralization, in the Kunene Region of northwestern Namibia, in the pursuit of new sources of Co. Sharing several key similarities to the Central African Copperbelt, the DOF has potential of becoming Namibia’s first Co mine. Due to the mineralization being recently explored, aspects of the mineralizing system are yet unconstrained. In the scope of the project, several analytical methods are being deployed; LA-ICP-MS trace element analyses of sulfides being one of the main methods.
Trace elements analyses of sphalerite, chalcopyrite, pyrite and pyrrhotite of the six mineralization styles (disseminated, clustered, nodular, “sigma”, veins and “events”) reveal a multi-generational ore-forming history of the DOF. Elements such as Fe, Co, Ni, Ga, Se and Cd in sphalerite and Co, Ni, Se and Bi in chalcopyrite show discrete grouping of element concentrations between (1) dissemination, cluster, nodule and “event” styles and (2) “sigma” and vein styles. Trends in sulfide geochemistry and geothermometry of sphalerite (which formed above 310 ± 50 °C) indicate that metamorphism strongly influenced the DOF mineralization. Metamorphism in the Kunene Region is attributed to the Damara Orogeny.
Many questions remain, e.g. the role of pre-existing pyrites and the possibility of an early, diagenetic mineralization. Understanding when and why these Co-bearing sediment-hosted mineralizations formed is of key-importance for the exploration of new deposits and securing new Co-resources for our green-technology future.