The Upper Carboniferous flora of Ibbenbüren (Germany)
The number of places in Europe with coal mining has decreased considerably in the course of time, but in Ibbenbüren (Germany) the mine is still active, though it will also be closed in 2018. However, the circumstances for collectors of Carboniferous plants have declined during the past years. Previously one could rather simply collect fossils in the weekend at the waste heap of Dickenberg (click on the photo), but nowadays the site has been sealed off hermetically. Only through organised excursions there are still some possibilities.
As a lot of people have still fossils from Ibbenbüren in their possession, I thought it convenient to give a overview of the occurring plants. In the meantime I have got crates with specimens from five collectors. Together with my own collection they give a reasonable picture of the flora of this finding place.
During the Late Carboniferous large parts of Northwest and Central Europe consisted of lowlands covered with swamps. In these swamps peat was formed. Peatforming in lowlands only occurs when the increase of the peat layers is keeping pace with the descent of the soil. From time to time this equilibrium was disturbed and the swamps were flooded. The swamps drowned and got covered with a layer of erosional material (sand and clay). As a consequence of the pressure the peat layers settled down. After some time the depression got filled up, the descent of the soil slowed down or the sea level was lowering, and at the clay layer a new swamp came into existence. Read more
Coal has been extracted in this area from the fifteenth
century on. At first this happened through 'Stollen', more or less
horizontal galleries, following the layers from where they came to the
surface. In the seventeenth century people started to dig vertical
shafts and during the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century
the mining was intensified strongly.
In the fine museum at Ibbenbüren (click on the photo above) the (eventful) history of the coal mining is pictured beautifully.
is only scarse literature on the plant fossils of Ibbenbüren. In the
book Geologie des Osnabrücker Berglandes (Klassen et al., 1984, in
German) the geology and the coal mining are rather extensively treated,
but only few pages are dedicated to the flora. The main publication is
the one by Bode (1927), in which the plants of the known layers of that
time are listed.
Click on the picture on the right to see a fine impression of the atmosphere of the coal swamp of Ibbenbüren.
Choose one of the groups of plants below to continue:
Bode, H., 1927. Palaeobotanisch-stratigraphische Studien im Ibbenbürener Carbon. Preußischen Geologischen Landesanstalt, Berlijn.
Cleal C.J. & B.A. Thomas, 1994. Plant fossils of the British Coal Measures. The Palaeontological Association, Londen.
Gothan W. & Remy W., 1957. Steinkohlenpflanzen. Essen.
Josten K.-H., 1991. Die Steinkohlen-Floren Nordwestdeutschlands. Geologisches Landesamt Nordrhein-Westfalen, Krefeld.
Klassen H. 1984. Geologie des Osnabrücker Berglandes. Naturwissenschaftliches Museum, Osnabrück.
Remy W & Remy R, 1977. Die Floren des Erdaltertums. Glückauf, Essen
Stewart, W.N. & G.W. Rothwell, 1993. Paleobotany and the evolution of plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Taylor, T.N., E.L. Taylor & M. Krings, 2009. Paleobotany: The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants [2nd Ed]. New York: Academic Press.