BIOGEOMON 2017 offers a selection of one-day mid-symposium field trips, which will familiarize the delegates with the eastern part of the Czech Republic, and a three-day post-symposium field trip to major places of interest situated in the western part of the country.
(1) Mid-symposium field trips
Six different one-day field trips will be organized on Wednesday, August 23. Departure from the Litomyšl Chateau at 9:30 AM. Each of the trips will offer a visit to one Natural Preserve or biogeochemical research site with data presentation, and at least two sites of cultural interest. Box lunch and entrance fees are included. Price: 40 Euro. Please use the REGISTRATION form to book one of the mid-symposium field trips.
Field Trip 1
Guides: Martin Novák and Petr Novák
- Košumberk Castle with a guided tour of the 13th century ruins and 17th century interiors. Collections of old paintings.
- Place of Pilgrimage Luže: visit to a Baroque early 18th century sanctuary.
- Natural Preserve Velké Dářko: a Sphagnum-dominated peatland, site of isotope greenhouse gas research, presentation of C-N-S-Pb isotope data.
- Veselý Kopec (”Fun Hill“): an open-air museum of folk architecture with a variety of charming historic timber-framed farm houses. Inspection of 18/19th century interiors.
- A brief stop in the 18th century rose gardens of the Nové Hrady Country House.
Field Trip 2
Guides: Iva Hůnová and Markéta Štěpánová
- Nové Hrady Country House: a guided tour of Roccoco interiors with exquisite period furniture.
- Castellated Rocks of Toulovcovy Maštale. A two-hour walking tour of a Natural Preserve featuring towering structures of selectively weathered Cretaceous sandstones and pleasant moss-covered valleys.
- Decanal Church of St. Lawrence, Vysoké Mýto: This Gothic church is famous for its large altar painting by Petr Brandl, the best Czech painter of the High Baroque period, and also for its lovely Art-Noveau angels painted in white, blue and gold in the main nave.
- Coffee break in a popular Vysoké Mýto sweet shop covered by the field trip fee.
Field Trip 3
Guides: Jakub Hruška and Filip Oulehle
- Potštejn Castle with a guided tour of the romantic 14th century ruins.
- Orlické Hory Mts. (Eagle Mts.) The Hydrochemical Monitoring Network GEOMON (Czech Geological Survey), data presentation and discussion of long-term trends. Recovery from severe acidification/spruce decline. U Dvou Louček catchment or old growth forest (Natural Preserve Bukačka).
- Kostelec nad Orlicí Country House. Guided tour of a lovely historical site, Neo-Classicism/Empire-style interiors and a unique French-style garden.
Field Trip 4
Guides: Petr Černý and Oldřich Smítal
- Javoříčko Caves: Large underground halls, passages and abysses richly decorated with pinkish and yellowish stalactites and stalagmites. A guided tour.
- Bouzov Castle: A Romantic/Art-Noveau/Art-Deco reconstruction of a 14th century fortress commissioned by the Teutonic Order. The reconstruction (1895-1910) was personally supervised by archduke Eugen Hapsburg. The castle was confiscated by the Nazis and sold to Gestapo Chief Rudolf Himmler to become a present to Adolf Hitler. Nationalized in 1945. At present, the Teutonic Order fights in court for its restitution. A guided tour of the castle.
- On the way back inspection of the historic center of Moravská Třebová.
Field Trip 5
Guides: Hana Šantrůčková and students of the South Bohemian University
- Pernštejn Castle: One of the best preserved Medieval castles in Moravia, founded in the 13th century. Later converted to a Baroque residence, decorated with marble statuary and rich stucco work. A guided tour of historic interiors.
- Protected Landscape Unit Žďárské vrchy (Žďár Hills): A walking tour of an old-growth forest with a forest management specialist.
- UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site Zelená Hora: Place of Pilgrimage, Church of St. John of Nepomuk. A unique example of Gothic architecture designed and built by the famous Baroque (!) architect Giovanni Battista Santini Aichl in the 18th century (brief stop).
Field Trip 6
Guides: Vojtěch Erban and František Veselovský
- Kutná Hora, the center of a rich silver mining district, was the second largest city in the Bohemian Kingdom. The Gothic St. Barbora's Church in Kutna Hora belongs to the largest and most richly decorated churches in Central Europe. A magnificent rib vault, competing with that in Prague's cathedral. A guided tour of the Medieval city.
- Inspection of an underground mine (Důl Osel).
- Visit to St. Barbora’s Church.
- Collection of ore minerals on mining dumps.
- On the way back possible stop at the Sedlec Ossuary (entrance fee not covered).
(2) Post-symposium 3-day field trip
”NORTHWESTERN BOHEMIA – Spas, Natural Preserves, Caves, Biogeochemical Monitoring and Acidification Recovery Sites”
Guide: Martin Novák with students
Departure: Litomyšl, Friday, August 25 early morning
Arrival: Prague International Airport, Sunday, August 27, 3:00 PM (stop in the city center for those with later flights).
Price: 290 Euro
2 nights accommodation with breakfast, three lunches, dinner on Saturday, soft drinks on the coach, and entrance fees are included in the price. The only meal that is not covered is dinner in Marienbad during an evening at leisure.
By an express train to Smíchov, change for a chartered coach.
- Stop 1: Karlštejn Castle.
One of the most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic. Built after 1348, the Karlštejn Castle served as a place for safekeeping the regalia of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian crown jewels, and holy relics. At that time, castle’s founder, the Bohemian King and Emperor of the medieval Roman Empire, Charles IV resided in nearby Prague, converting the city to the capital of the Roman Empire. The construction was finished in 1365 when the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the Great Tower was consecrated. The jewels and archive were kept in the chapel behind four doors and 19 locks with independently guarded keys. During the Thirty Years War in 1619, the coronation jewels were brought to Prague. A Neo-Gothic reconstruction was carried out between 1887 and 1899 by the architect of the Prague Cathedral Josef Mocker, giving the castle its present romantic look.
- Stop 2: Koněprusy Caves.
With the length of 2 km and vertical range of 70 m, the largest cave system in Bohemia. The Koněprusy cave system was discovered accidentally in 1950 after an explosion in a nearby limestone quarry. Underground passages and domed chambers in Devonian limestones interconnected by shafts were formed by a stream at the end of Neocene. Visitors admire rich dripstones with numerous stalagmites and stalactites above small sinter lakes. Pleistocene excavations include cave bears, sable-tooth tigers, rhinos and ancestors of elephant mastodon. Bone splitters of Neanderthal man were also found. The tour lasts about one hour. Wear a sweater and a jacket, as the temperature inside is mere 4 oC year-round!
- Stop 3: Mariánské Lázně – Marienbad Spa.
The younger sister of posh Carlsbad is equally sought after by international visitors, but makes a more relaxed impression. German settlers were invited into this region by Bohemian Kings from the Přemyslid dynasty in the 12th century. The springs first appear in a document dated 1341. The physician of the local land owner, the Teplá Abbey, Dr. Josef Nehr worked hard to demonstrate the curative properties (1779-1820), and was largely successful. The Golden Era of the town started in the second half of the 19th century. Most spa buildings, hotels and collonades were constructed between 1870 and 1914. In 1900, one million bottles of mineral water were exported from Marienbad annually. Famous visitors included Emperor Franz Josef I, Thomas Edison and Richard Wagner. After World War II, the ethnic German population was forcibly expelled according to the Potsdam agreement. Marienbad today is a popular holiday resort among the green mountains of the Slavkovský Forest (Kaiserwald).
- Stop 1: Karlštejn Castle.
Stop 4: Tajga Peat bog near Kladská.
Visit to a Sphagnum dominated site of recent biogeochemical and isotope research, with data presentation. Peatlands cover only 4 % of the Earth's land surface, yet they store 30 % of the world's soil C, and 15 % of the world's soil N. Peat contains the equivalent of half of the carbon that is present in the atmosphere as CO2. Degradation of peat bogs can contribute to accelerated temperature increases through higher emissions of peat-derived greenhouse gases. Sofar, most soils are a net sink of atmospheric CO2, while wetlands are a net source of atmospheric methane (CH4). Temperature increases may lead to a decrease in thickness of organic soils, and their ultimate disappearance. These changes may lead to a positive feed-back, resulting in an even warmer climate. Data on C, CO2, CH4, N, N2O, S and Pb isotopes will be presented.
- Stop 5: Romanesque Reliquary of St. Maurus, Bečov nad Teplou Castle.
Considered to be the second most important historical artifact in the Czech Republic after the Crown Jewels. The reliquary was created in Belgium in the early 13th century. The wooden core is covered with gilded silver plate decorated with numerous gems, statuettes, reliefs, and filigree decorations. The Baufort family brought the reliquary to the Bečov castle in 1888. The Bauforts collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, and were forced to leave the country in 1945. Shortly before the end of the war, the reliquary was buried beneath the floor in the chapel and effectively forgotten. The Czechoslovak Federal Investigation Bureau discovered the reliquary in 1985.
- Stop 6: Karlovy Vary – Carlsbad Spa.
Famous spa with mineral springs and splendid 18th-19th century architecture. Carlsbad was founded in 1358 by the Czech King and Emperor of the Roman Empire Charles IV. "Taking the waters" at Carlsbad was what the elegant people of Europe did for their holidays before the coming of mass tourism. The list of V.I.P. visitors would be endless: It includes the Russian Tsars Peter I and Nicholas II, Empress Maria Theresia, King Edward VII, Goethe, Schiller, Paganini, Chopin, Gogol, Brahms, Beethoven, Bismarck, Tchaikovsky, and Marx. Most people come to town on a medically prescribed cure, which involves drinking from various combinations of the 12 springs according to a closely monitored schedule, as well as subjection to hot baths, massages, electrical shocks, inhalations and moorpacks. An essential, if unofficial, part of the treatment seems to be the consumption of large amounts of Becherovka, a digestive liqueur that is sometimes called "the 13th spring of Carlsbad". Another Carlsbad perennial, the sweetened wafers called oplatky, helps to neutralize the foul taste of the waters.
The historic district stretches along the wooded valley of the Tepla River for two kilometers. The heart of the spa is the Mill Promenade, a Corinthian colonnade of the 1870s where people gather, pacing up and down and sipping from the nozzled porcelain mugs designed to keep water at a constant temperature. The main spring, Vřídlo, bursting into a height of 8 meters, is now cased in a glass-and-concrete building from the 1970s. The geology of the Carlsbad area is relatively simple. The town is situated on a granite massif, outcrops of which can be seen everywhere. The deeply weathered granite with kaolinized feldspars forms a thick regolith. The thickness of the massif is estimated to be 10 km. Radiometric methods give ages between 300 and 270 Ma, indicating a late Variscan postorogenic origin. The hydrological structure is related to the fault system of the granite massif. Part of the infiltrated rain water descends along fissures to a depth of up to 2 km, is warmed by the heat transmitted from the rocks, while leaching the surrounding rocks. Juvenile CO2 might contribute to the composition of the mineral water. Near the earth surface, carbonate precipitates as aragonite, forming the so-called Carlsbad sinter crust, as much as 8 meter thick, on the surface of granite.
- Stop 7: Environmetal damage around a Tertiary Coal Basin
We will experience the recovering environment of the North Bohemian industrial region, passing through the spruce die-back affected area of the Krusne hory Mts. near the Czech-German border and stop near vast open-pit coal mines. High atmospheric loads of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the 1970s and 1980s, were supplied by a cluster of eleven large coal-fired power plants. After desulphurization units were installed in all these power plants in the 1990s, atmospheric S deposition decreased by 90 %.
The North Bohemian Tertiary Basin forms an elongated depression extending over an area of 1400 km2 south of the Krusne hory Mts. The Eocene/Miocene volcano-sedimentary sequence was deposited mostly in lacustrine environment and is up to 500 meters thick. Two-thirds of the area are made up by a coal-bearing complex. In the center of the basin a single massive coal seam occurs, up to 30 m in thickness. The coal contains up to 3 % of sulfur. Coal mining in the late 19th century mostly used underground galleries, whereas the vast open-pit operations were started in the 1950s. Annual output steadily increased throughout the 20th century and peaked in the 1980s. Reclamation efforts are under way. Respiratory diseases are still common, and life expectancy relatively low.
- Stop 8: Hydrogeochemical monitoring in small forested catchments
Inspection of a site with one of the longest time-series of hydrogeochemical data in Europe. Data presentation on retreat of acidification, starting with Tom Paces's Nature paper (1985). Sulfur isotopes have been instrumental in following the dispersion pathways of pollutant S in upland ecosystems. Natural-abundance stable isotope studies have been complemented by activity measurements of cosmogenic 35S in the catchments. Calculation of input/output mass balances and isotope mass balances for environmentally relevant species (S, N, Pb, As) will be illustrated.
- Stop 9: Jezeří (Eisenberg) Castle
overlooking one of the largest open-pit coal mines. A 14th century castle was rebuilt into a fine Baroque Country House after 1696. The main building has an H-shaped groundplan. A unique theatre opened in 1802 under the Lobkowitzes. Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, and Hayden’s oratorium Creation of the World had their world premieres here. The Country House was confiscated during World War II, as Max Lobkowitz was ambassador of the Czechoslovak government to London. Nazis ran a concentration camp at Jezeří, staffed with SS, and a prison for high-ranking army officals of the Allies (Charles de Gaulle’s brother was held here). The whole structure suffered severely during the Communist rule, and has been returned to the state by the Lobkowitzes 20 years ago. A guided tour of both the recently restored and the still dilapidated interiors. A truly astonishing experience.
- Stop 4: Tajga Peat bog near Kladská.
Stop 10: The transferred decanal church in the city of Most
The Medieval Royal city of Most was built directly above sizeable reserves of brown coal. During the Communist era (1948-1989) the entire city center was torn down and relocated. Open-pit mining eradicated the whole community with one notable exception: The state authorities decided to salvage the unique late Gothic church of Assumption of Our Lady. The technically demanding project became a showcase of Communist care of the nation's cultural heritage and as such was hugely medialized.
The decanal church was built by after a great fire in 1515. The main nave received a gorgeous traceried rib vault. In the early 1970s, the entire edifice, with the exception of the main tower, was reinforced with steel braces and hydraulically lifted on tracks. In 1975, the whole church was slowly transferred to its new position on landscaped spoil. The distance between the two sites was 841 meters and the trip lasted 646 hours. In the course of the transfer, an automated regulation system issued over 375, 000 impulses for rectification of the position of supports. Intended to become a museum at the time of the transfer, the church now serves its original purpose. A fine art collection on display.
Stop 11: Castellated Rocks of Tisá (Natural Preserve ”Tiské stěny“)
The castellated rocks at Tisá were formed of sandstones near the northern margin of the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin. This shallow continental sea, the result of a world-wide transgression during Cenomanian, existed until Santonian, i.e., for roughly 10 million years. At the highest sea level, the basin extended over large parts of the Bohemian Massif. The Bohemian Cretaceous basin was situated on the periphery of the European platform linking the Tethys Ocean (today’s Alps and Carpathians) with an extensive platform sea in northwestern Europe. Sediments deposited in the Bohemian Cretaceous basin were mostly marlstones, however Tisá was one of the few areas where sandstones prevailed. The outcropping sandstones are Turonian in age. Tisá rocks are sought after by tourists for its unusual physiographical features displaying picturesque towering structures, which bear resemblance to a ruined castle. Dark canyons and long rock walls make the landscape even more like a fairyland. The relief is a result of several factors: the large thickness of the sandstone complexes, petrographic composition (90 % quartz grains) and erosion of primarily prismatic blocks. The erosion rates were higher along cracks leading to the formation of a number of battlement-like features. These are laced with collapsed blocks, forming narrow ground-level passages and scattered with smaller but morphologically equally distinct features: overhanging cliffs, cornices, cavities, windows, needle- and mushroom-like structures.
Return to the Václav Havel International Airport, Prague.
- Stop 10: The transferred decanal church in the city of Most