Ries Krater
Germany 2003

Earth Impact Database
Here's a good virtual tour of the Ries with good Geological Commentary

Rock Samples collected on the trip (or later purchase)

In the history of Impact studies, the Ries Crater, the city of Noerdlingen, and St Georges Church in particular, is second in importance only to Barringer Crater in Arizona. Eugene Shoemaker, on his honeymoon, looked at the walls of the church and realized they were made out of impact breccia - suevite. He found samples and mailed them off to Ed Chao who identified coesite - shocked quartz, and thus quickly proved the impact nature of the Ries Basin.

Classic Ries image - the clouds are over the hills making up the crater rim. Noerdlingen is about 1/3 from the left. The walled city has a diameter of 1km, about the same size as the rock that made the crater.


One of the first things a visitor to Noerdlingen / Ries Crater needs to do is climb the
Daniel - the bell tower of St Georges Church. The view is impressive, and much of the crater area can be seen. It's great fun just looking at the walls too! (don't dig out geological samples from the walls!)



South East (my guesthouse to the bottom left)
(reasonably priced, central, parking in the back, and breakfast)


South West

Back on the ground, you can look at the walls.
And this is what Eugene Shoemaker saw:


Bits of different kinds of rocks and black pieces of "glass"


Even penguins get into the act




After St Georges Church, the next stop on the Impact Pilgrimage is:

Where you can see the:

Tawaki the Penguin is standing next to a souvenir block of suevite in front of the museum
Lots of Impact information.

One of the most interesting was this piece of core sample.
495.4m down, and it's still Suevite Impact Breccia!!!

Have a look at their website
(not as good as it used to be, they had a virtual tour)


Another Impact Breccia - this one from 400,000 km away
Loaned by NASA in thanks for the assistance in Astronaut training before the lunar missions.
This one is behind some serious glass. No chance of picking it up and looking at it...





 Then you have to get in your car for a tour of the Ries Impact Basin



A fortress built of suevite - south of Noerdlingen


A quarry with Limestone layers, tilted by impact 


Gosheim <-click to see satellite view

 On the Eastern edge of the crater, we have a bunch of the Malm Limestone that has been shock modified and put nearly vertical



 Otting <-click to see satellite view

Just outside the east rim of the crater lies the village of Otting. Through the village to the north, you will come to one of the handy Ries impact site signs.


Nothing like travelling internationally with a rock hammer in your bag!!!

That was in checked luggage, though my rock samples were carry on. After crossing the Atlantic with rocks in my carry-on bag, US security said I couldn't carry them on. They suggested I throw them away! After getting them packed up and checked in, re-screening discovered the wire cutter and screwdriver I had accidentally left in my bag. Interesting they didn't catch those items when the rocks went through (in London or Detroit), or when I checked into my trans-Atlantic flight. (I also operate amateur radio, which is why I carry tools for that!) Oh well, they confiscated those...


a 10 meter tall wall of Suevite

Chipping a sample out of a wall in the quarry

The blackish sections are "glass"



Aumuhle <-click to see satellite view

At the north rim of the crater - Aumuhle and Hainsfurth are suevite quarries.

Some nice signs have been put up to describe the area and history.


Aumuhle is the classic location for seeing Suevite on top of the Bunte Breccia. The Suevite is the light colored material, the Bunte Breccia is the red material. (different from the "red suevite" of Polsingen)


 Somehow, these pieces didn't make it into the backpack
There were also Big Suevite boulders in the quarry




Polsingen <-click to see satellite view

Polsingen was the hardest Quarry to find. Famous for "Red Suevite"
With the help of some of the people at the Rieskrater Museum, I finally found it.

It is suggested that this is not a Suevite but an Impact Melt...

Park at the south end of Polsingen - just by the sign.



Find the small sign to the Suevit Quarry (you can just see it behind the rental car above)

Walk up through the field, take a left on the street to the small park. Walk to the back of the park

 There's the wall of red suevite. The sign asks you to take only small samples, so there will be some for other people!




 At the end of a long day - stopping by a number of other sites (Ronheim, Klostermuhle, Zipplingen and more) - It is nice to wander Noerdlingen by night. It is pretty quiet!



Thanks to Meteorite craters and impact structures of the Earth by Paul Hodge I've been able to learn about and visit a number of impact sites. I recommend this book! When you get to Noerdlingen, go to the Rieskrater Museum, and the gift shop has a number of Ries books and maps that will also help out in a visit.

As others have said - please be conservative in the samples you take - others will come after you to discover the joy of investigating the Ries, and it would be nice for them to find some also!

Images and text in these pages copyright ted Brattstrom 2003, 2005, 2006
updated 2-Aug-2009