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The graduation tower of Bad Ksen (Germany)

its history and the formation of thornstone

Hans-Joachim Engelhardt & Lieselotte von Borstel
DBE TECHNOLOGY GmbH, D-31228 Peine, Germany

XX International Quo Vadis Sal Symposium

Bochnia Salt Mine
ul. Campi 15, 32-700 Bochnia, Poland
7 10 October 2015

Geology of the Thuringian Basin

Muschelkalk aquifer;
Rt Formation of the Upper Buntsandstein (Bunter sandstone) aquifuge.

Historical Summary

Discovery of low-concentrated brines (Mhlbrunnen)

1727 1731 Sinking of a 175 m deep shaft (lower shaft)

1731 1735 Sinking of the upper shaft.
In a depth of approx. 165 m, a 243 m long drift connects the shafts.
Construction of a waterwheel at the Saale river, a flatrod-system,
and the graduation tower on the Rechenberg (hill near the Saale river).

First bathers


First private bathhouse opened for the public.


Shaft sinking in Stafurt.

Beginning of large-scale underground salt mining.


End of salt production with the graduation tower.

Ksen had about 1,300 guests.

Center of Bad Ksen

Graduation tower Bad Ksen Section of a historic, undated postcard (around the
year 1930?).

Composition of the brine

Composition is virtually constant.

NaCl/(CaSO4+CaCO3) 10.0 14.7 (brines), 20.8 25.0 (seawater)
Seawater contains higher amounts of magnesium and potassium salts.

Economical salt production

reduction of wood or coal consumption
Graduation of the brine by solar evaporation
Climatic requirements for solar evaporation
The relative air humidity is lower than the water activity of the brine.
No formation of ice no freezing of the brine.
Target of the degree of evaporation: Virtually NaCl saturation.
NaCl saturation possibility of halite precipitation in the pipeline to the salt boilery.
Average air humidity of 70 %.
Time period of operation: about 230 days.
The amount of water evaporation (evaporation rate)
depends on the climatic conditions and the technical execution.

Climatic conditions that influence water evaporation are:


relative air humidity (difference between the saturated vapor pressure

and the actual existing vapor pressure),
wind velocity,
air temperature,
net solar radiation at the surface of evaporation,
to a low extent air pressure.

The Harz mountain range and the Thuringian Forest

protect the Saale-Unstrut-region.
1,600 hours of sunshine per year.

The amount of water evaporation (evaporation rate)

depends on the climatic conditions and the technical execution.
Geiseltalsee: Literature value 800 mm/a water evaporation.
According the Dalton's Law calculated values (Bad Ksen):
650 - 750 mm/230 d (flat water surface)
Increase of the brine surface due to the formation of drops.
Increase of the vapor pressure according the Kelvin equation (curvature effect):
The vapor pressure of a curved surface is higher than that of a flat surface.
Increase of the wind velocity with the height above ground.
The fall of the drops increases the air velocity on the surface of the drops.
The basins and the blackthorn walls can be protected against rainfall by a roof.

Nearly constant composition of the brine.

Carbonates and gypsum crystallize according their solubility in water.
Changes of the wheather conditions:
temperature, air pressure, relative air humidity, etc.
Changes of the operating conditions.
Variations of the evaporation rate and the degree of evaporation.
Rhythmic crystallization of the minerals (similar to a natural seawater basin)
Comparable anhydrite aggregates of the main anhydrite (Zechstein) are called
thornstone aggregates (cf. Hemmann 1968).

Hemmann, M. (1968) Zur Ausbildung und Genese des Leinesteinsalzes und Hauptanhydrits
im Ostteil des Subherzynen Beckens. Thesis, Math.-Naturwiss. Fak. Univ. Freiberg.

Transmitted light and incident light

Incident light (UV).

Annual production amounted to around 2.500 tons salt.

About 50,000 tons (m) of water evaporated.
Estimated evaporation rate (water) 0.65 m/230 d.
Necessary basin area: > 76,923 m.
Evaporation rate increases with the degree of evaporation (with water activity).
The bundles of the graduation tower form a surface area of about 7,500 square metres.
50,000 m water / 7,500 m = 6.7 m/230 d (evaporation rate per m).
6.7 m / 0.65 m; 76,923 m / 7,500 m.
More than ten times the evaporation rate of a brine basin.

Nowadays, graduation towers are

centres of recreation, technical monuments, tourist attractions,
and event locations.
Water evaporation cools the air and the microclimate with fresh,
salty aerosols is used for therapeutic inhalations.

Vogt, H. (1940) Lehrbuch der Bder- und Klimaheilkunde. Verlag J. Springer, Berlin.