OPPENHEIM, GERMANY–Our International Bryozoology Association field trip started the day in the little town of Prüm looking at Devonian limestones and shales, and then we drove to Boppard where we boarded a Rhine River ferry for a trip upstream to Bacharach. The weather threatened rain but held off, giving us excellent views of the steep sides of the middle Rhine Valley with its little villages, precipitous vineyards, and numerous castles.
One of the attractions of this voyage was the “Loreley“, a large cliff at the narrowest point of the Rhine. It has historically been the site of many accidents because of the shallow, fast waters over the rocky river bed near the outcrop. There is a thick crust of Germanic sentimentality over this place which I don’t quite understand. In our case it involved the ferry loudspeakers playing a song based on a poem by Heinrich Heine that is a traditional favorite. At least I know this: the rock is a Lower Devonian quartzite, part of the Taunus Formation, and derived from tidal flat sediments!