Geology

Highlights from the Ruhr Museum Collection

Trilobites Neoasaphus kowalewskii (LAWROW) with stalk eyes, Illaenus tauricornis KUTORGA with long, horn-like curved cheek spines and Neoasaphus plautini (SCHMIDT) (Middle Ordovician, Darriwilian, 465 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Trilobites Neoasaphus kowalewskii 

These extraordinary trilobites show extreme stalk eyes and horn-like curved cheek spines. They come from the St. Petersburg area in Russia. What these striking features were for is still not clear and is continually the subject of entertaining scientific debate. 

Giant flying insect Homoioptera vorhallensis BRAUCKMANN & KOCH (Upper Carboniferous (Pennsylvanium), Bashkirian (Namurium B), Ziegelschiefer Formation, 318 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Giant Flying Insect Homoioptera vorhallensis 

Hagen-Vorhalle in North Rhine-Westphalia has a reputation as a world-class fossil deposit: Complete 320-million-year-old giant flying insects were discovered there for example. This male of the species Homoioptera vorhallensis, with a body length of 31 centimeters, is the largest specimen of a total of six found. Given the small number of these found, these special ancient neuroptera are even rarer than the famous ancient bird Archaeopteryx. 

Block section Anna seam in historical showcase with photos of coal petrographic thin sections (313 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Block Section Anna Seam in Historical Showcase 

Different types of coal have different technical characteristics. Block sections like this one were an important part of miners’ training. Using such teaching aids, they can learn to distinguish between the different types of coal even with the naked eye. The individual components of coal types are also made visible by means of so-called thin sections.  

Volcanic ash as kaolin tonstein, cast in synthetic resin (Upper Carboniferous (Pennsylvanium), Uppermost Bashkirian (Namurium B), (Duckmantian, Westphalium B), middle Essen Formation, Zollverein 8 seam 312 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Volcanic Ash as Kaolin Tonstein

Kaolin tonsteins are formed from volcanic ashes. They can be radiometrically dated. In the Ruhr area they occur at different levels of the Upper Carboniferous strata, mostly in coal seams. They were also deposited in an area of up to 400 kilometers. Given these characteristics, they serve, among other things, as isochronous time markers and to subdivide the geological layers.  

marine crocodile Steneosaurus bollensis (CUVIER), embedded in a carrier plate with numerous ammonites of the genus Dactylioceras (Lower Jurassic, Toarcian, Posidonia Shale Formation, 183 - 178 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Marine Crocodile Steneosaurus bollensis 

The three meter tall marine crocodile from the Posidonia Shale Formation of Holzmaden is one of the most spectacular specimens that came into the former KRUPP collection via the paleontologist FRAAS. This 180-million-year-old marine crocodile resembles today’s gavial-like river crocodiles from India with its long narrow snout. It became famous as an original illustration in the book “Der Petrefaktensammler” (The Petrifact Collector) by EBERHARD FRAAS.  

undetermined siliceous sponge, possibly belonging to the genus Plocoscyphia (Upper Cretaceous, Lower Campanian, Holtwick Formation, ("Lower Osterwick Strata") 81 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Undetermined Siliceous Sponge

The RUHR MUSEUM owns a collection of fossilized sponges from the Cretaceous period, which is one of the best and most extensive of its kind in the world. The fossils are exposed down to the smallest detail through their masterful preparation. The richness of forms of these sponges from the Münsterland region is very aesthetically appealing. The bizarre shapes are reminiscent of SALVADOR DALÍ’s artworks created 80 million years later.  

drop-soil in Haltern Sand (Quarternary, Upper Pleistocene, Tatantian, Weichselian complex, 115.000 - 11.700 years ago formed in: Upper Cretaceous, Santonian, Haltern Formation ("Haltern Sands"), 85 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Drop-soil in Haltern Sand

Drop-soils are a testament to the climate of an area and form in permafrost areas off the edge of the ice sheet. In order to preserve such special “works of art of nature” over the long term, they have to be fixed in place before removal using the so-called varnish section method. Each varnish section is geologically unique and has an individual aesthetic. The RUHR MUSEUM is in possession of an entire Ice Age gallery of these.  

ammonite Schloenbachia varians (SOWERBY) with fused glass shard (99 - 96 million years ago)UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Ammonite Schloenbachia varians 

Fire and water: The natural science collection of the former RUHRLANDMUSEUM was severely damaged by bombing during the Second World War. A glass fragment is fused on the surface of the small Cretaceous ammonite. It could have been restored. But the geologist CARL WEIDMANN was farsighted enough to give it a new meaning in the collection of damaged pieces.  

pumice slag, glass containerUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

 Pumice Slag

The RUHR MUSUEM’s collection also documents how man impacts nature. The collection includes technogenic substrates derived from residues from the coal and steel industries. Soil formation has already begun in many places here, and despite the contamination, species-rich vegetation has developed. The RUHR MUSUEM has mapped and herbarized the botanical diversity at selected locations in Essen.  

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