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50km Fahrradtour Gernsheim – Nierstein / Hessen – Rheinland Pfalz

Today it was time for one of the first big biketrips we’ve got planned for this year. As we’re both dutches we only like the flat so there’s not much hills we’ll be climbing. But we compensate by the distance we’re cycling.

So we started off from Gernsheim, took the ferry from Hessen to Rheinland-Pfalz, another Bundesland, and continued there on our trip.

What caught me most was the dutch landscape, as long as you didn’t see any hills in the background:

The road was flat, and we were cycling along the Rhine, including lines of trees next to us

To add on top, we cycled by a field filled with yellow flowers and Dutch Belted cows, calves and a bull. I know only of one field, near Gouda, the Netherlands, where they’ve got this rare breed, but here they’re present as well. I had to cycle back to take the picture, and Jr. never knew why I was smiling so much :)

Not much later our R6 route was apparently blocked so we had to take the kind-of-D-tour which went towards Guntersblum. So we got closer to the hills with the wineyards.

And so we got to the other side of the “Rheingraben”; our “earthquake valley“; continuing our trip over quite some bad roads, but at least they were heading in the right direction.

So not much later we headed towards the churches of Oppenheim, the Katharinnenkirche, which was visible throughout the village Oppenheim, which we were cycling through. We, at least I, had to wait until the clouds were gone and the church was showing it’s bright dark red colour in the sun.

We followed our road through Oppenheim, directly next to the river and before we knew it, we were already at the ferry.

The ferry just arrived, so we could jump on it straight away

We only had to wait a few minutes before we would cross the Rhine river, just in between the cargo ships crossing the trip.

So we crossed the Rhine once again near Nierstein / Oppenheim and we were back from Rheinland-Pfalz into Hessen.

The name of the little restaurant on the other side, in Hessen, did ring a bell: friends already mentioned this one. But we cycled on instead of making a break, we had another 30km to go.

The Ried, or maybe even better translated in Dutch: Riet. Everywhere in this area it was present. I guess the dutch would wonder why there are no Polders here. But at least there were dikes here to keep the water our in case of high water of the Rhine.

The view north towards Nierstein / Oppenheim, the river being very wide but not very deep as we could see from the track the ships took there.

Up north I could show Jr what it means when the river has got a ‘lazy long curve’.

The water goes fastest in the inner curve compared to the outer curve where the water goes slow, is very dirty, has got a lot of debris,

And .. yes.. attracts quite a lot of mosquitoes. The amount of flies we swallowed here was quite a lot. Even smiling wasn’t an option.

Maybe the road below the dike would have been an option, but it was the wind from behind that brought us up here.

While looking for a windfree place to have lunch, we came across these here. We were quite surprised to see these here in a quite bright area in the night skies.

Not much further we were able to see “our” hill, the Melibokus, over the fields.

We continued the R6 road and all of a sudden we were into the Ried. The road in between the fields and the river turned into a track through the forest, where the middle bit had turned into a yellow guideline.

And finally I could convince Jr. to stop for a lunchbreak, although it was already quite late

For the ones that know it, this is mistletoe, present all around us.

What we also heard but not saw, was this little creature; Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa

A bit further, behind a similar bush, we saw a fox and two deer, feeding on whatever they could find up there.

And finally, we could sit down and drink and eat something, in the middle of the Ried fields. Next to us in the trees we saw 2 Aegithalos caudatus, the long-tailed bushtit.

Not much later we were in the Kühkopf (cowhead) near one of our favorite restaurants, the Forsthaus Kühkopf. They have great cakes down there, as well as strawberry wine, chocolate with cream and raspberry-flushed icecream, Jrs favorite.

When we finally arrived at our staring point, it was 5 hours later and we had covered over 50km of cycling. Jr wasn’t the only one being surprised and proud about that :)

Earthquakes in the past week: #1: Europe!

Normally I don’t compare that much when it comes to ‘our’ local earthquakes compared to the “rest of the world”.
However, after yesterday’s M6.1 near Crete, Greece, I could not resist to quickly check.

Maybe it’s because of the enormous numbers of aftershocks around Crete, but well, Europe is the absolute #1 today – even after the numerous #icequakes from the Bardarbunga.

Number of #earthquakes in the past week:
* Euro-Med: 481
* Africa & Indian Ocean: 502 (incl. Europe)
* Pacific: 327
* North America: 152
* South America: 139
* Asia: 80

Source: EMSC-CSEM’s interactive map, very interesting to see it ‘growing’)

* Euro-Med: 481

* Africa & Indian Ocean: 502 (incl. Europe)

* Pacific: 327

* North America: 152

* South America: 139

* Asia: 80

March 17th 2015: More fireworks over North Europe (Aurora Borealis)

Just a few days before the upcoming solar eclipse on Friday morning, March 20th, Mother Nature had yet another nice surprise for us at hand.

Due to a massive CME (a Coronal Mass Ejection, where the sun spits out a lot of particles) directed towards the earth, many places in Northern Europe were hit by this stream of particles.

However, as we’re shielded by the magnetic field within and around the earth, the particles were bounced off in various directions. This bouncing of charged particles caused a beautiful colourful spectacle called Aurora Borealis, also known as Northern Lights.

From spaceweather an actual view could be found where to expect these beautiful colourful flames; around it’s peak it looked like this:
Aurora Forecast Northern Hemisphere

Also via the forecast was predicting an intense hammering of our planet by solar particles.

Down south, here near Darmstadt, the sky was too bright to be able to see much, and we were also too much down south. However, beautiful images were being captured (also from the USA).

Via Mikael Sjösten

Via Oliver Wright

And some more local images:

From Zwolle, The Netherlands, by Hans van Eijsden

From Friesland, The Netherlands, by Jeroen Horlings

From Terschelling, The Netherlands, by Albert Wester

It has been about 13,5 years ago I’ve seen polar lights glowing orange/greenish; I hope to be able to catch a bit more of it soon.

And the Darmstädter Erdbeben / earthquake swarm continues ..

Yesterday night, 15/03/2015 at around 04:08 we got struck by a M2.7 earthquake in Darmstadt, which I kindly enough received next morning via twitter as a reminder:

With the initial numbers, it looked like the epicenter was only 4km away:

However, after correction the epicenter returned to where we could expect this to happen: Mühltal again, a part of Nieder-Beerbach, just over the first ridge pushed up by the Rheingraben, on the edge of the yellow, pink and green areas:

No, I didn’t feel anything as I was vast asleep. Many people did feel it though, even woke up, and logged their responses via @JuskisErdbeben.

image via

based upon the ‘eye’witness reports, collected by Jens Skapski & Lukas Rentz for, the area where the quake was felt could be narrowed down pretty precise. My colleague who lives exactly at the epicenter did wake up and was not very pleased though with yet another earthquake.

On the WBB-Seismometer from the HED (Hessischen Erdbebendienstes), located in Darmstadt for the HLUG (Hessischen Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie), it did look quite impressive:

And even here the little aftershock is visible well, about 15 minutes later.

As I already predicted a friend last week: It has been too quiet since November. I saw little peaks in the seismograph already last week, which could lead up to something bigger again. And thus it did. Probably it decided it wasn’t finished yet, as on the 16th in the morning another quake was registered:

This one I did feel but I didn’t realize it was another earthquake, I thought it was just someone slamming the door.

What surprised me once again is that one can hear an earthquake. Not the sound of the building and furniture that moves, but the actual quake itself sounds over here frequently like a bang, sometimes starting with a loud roar (this can be heard in this video:

Earthquake (Erdbeben): Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany – 17.05.2014 from Mark Paul Abare, Jr. on Vimeo.

I read from some sources that gas was being released just before, during and after the earthquake, which makes sense. All we would need is just a few more places where this can be measured.

Here are the current recent earthquakes near Darmstadt until now:

* Earthquake near Darmstadt, March 30th (M3.2),
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, May 17th (M4.1)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, June 8th 2014 (M3.3)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, September 19th 2014 (M2.6)
* Earthquake near Darmstadt, October 29th 2014 (M3.6)

Which all adds up to the list of earthquakes here. It is still not getting less intense, less frequent:

Maps from top to bottom showing the amount and magnitude of earthquakes near Mühltal / Darmstadt since
- 2002 – 2015 (now)
- 2012 – 2015 (now)
- 2014 – 2015 (now)

And, in case you’re interested what happens right now: Live seismograph from WBB – Hessische Earthquake Service in Darmstadt:

Meteorite hits (or burns out) over southern Europe on March 15th

Just in between the earthquakes here; we also had a meteorite plunging towards earth. Unfortunately I didn’t see it, but my colleague did while he was fiddling with his bike outside. He mentioned he was stunned by the green light, the flashing, thought it was fireworks, then realized it was going way to slow.
Here are some recordings from dashcams which he recognized immediately; the colour and the flickering. Reports also say there was a bang, which could indicate the meteorite hit earth (but I presume the bang was because it fragmented above, visible in some of the videos).

From Tirol, Austria

From Mannheim, Germany

The New Millenium Observatory cam near Ulm, Germany

And via Spaceweather some beautiful images from the leftovers; including a curly tail:

Courtesy: Taken by Hans Hopf on March 15, 2015 near Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany

If you have seen this meteorite, please bring it back to it’s rightful owner. Or, maybe better; report it here:

And if you do not know the difference between a asteroid, comet, meteoroid, meteor or meteorite, check this blogpost