Zugspitze is drilled

Permafrost drilling started on Germany's highest mountain

Zugspitze Bavarian State Office for the Environment
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In many mountain regions soil and rock are permanently frozen. So also at the Zugspitze. Global warming may, however, slowly but surely thaw this permafrost area - possibly with fatal consequences for man and nature. Because then threaten, among other things, dangerous rockfalls. Yesterday, researchers gave the starting signal for a 60-meter-long hole right across the summit area of ​​the Zugspitze. With their help, the ice-cold rock on the north wall to be explored and monitored.

Among other things, the results of the new research project of the Bavarian State Office for the Environment (LfU) will be integrated into a planned, nationwide research network.

"The hole at the highest point in Germany will also be technically and logistically a top performance" said Andreas von Poschinger from the LfU yesterday on the occasion of the start of the project. "The transport of the heavy equipment is only possible through the active support of the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn via cogwheel and cableway", he explains the choice of location for the hole, which would have become much more difficult in the permafrost on the Allgäu main ridge or Watzmannstock.

Track down the finest deformations

For the LfU experts, it really only starts when the hole is drilled. The scientists then send a special camera into the borehole to explore clefts and cavities in the inner mountain structure. In addition, extensometers are installed, which can show even the finest deformations within the rock.

The researchers then close the almost 60-meter-long borehole again to be able to actually measure the internal temperatures in the rock. This is what is known as a thematic chain - a cable with 25 temperature sensors, which transmits temperature values ​​to a data collector at hourly intervals, which is protected in the summit building of the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn and can be read out via modem. display

Measuring system 15 years in use

The measuring system is to record the changes in the structure of the permafrost over a period of 15 years. These changes are a long-term climate indicator as permafrost may slowly thaw as a result of global warming. In addition, a disappearance of the permafrost may also be of practical importance for building foundations.

(Bavarian State Office for the Environment, 23.08.2007 - DLO)