On the “Travel Stones“ portal of the Focus Terra initiative at ETH Zürich, one can place information about geological finds from the wayside or from the field

The “Travel Stones“ portal of Focus Terra at ETH Zurich.

Children go through a phase with rocks long before they are in school, discovering them on the ground outside, picking them up, bringing them home, and trying to understand them. The “Travel Stones“ portal of Focus Terra at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich has come up with a similar approach to geology: Interested parties are invited to post information about finds from the wayside or from the field on the website.

It is about the type of rock, something about its history, a photo of the find site, and the find site with geographical coordinates.

One characteristic of the descriptions is that they are only a few sentences long, another is the reference to the finder.

As an example, first the text of Kerstin about the serpentinite she found in the village of Kloten in the Swiss Alps: “Finally vacations – a trip through Switzerland. After we had to watch the nice weather mostly from inside in the lockdown, we hoped for a lot of sun. But our first few days in Arosa couldn’t have been rainier! Since we had few views, we enjoyed the geology as we hiked – especially the dark hills of serpentinite that stood out against the white limestone.“

Then follows some geology: “This serpentinite is a remnant from the ocean that once lay between Central Europe and Italy and was closed during the formation of the Alps. During the mountain building, fragments of the ocean floor were transported to several 1000 meters above sea level. As part of this ocean floor, the serpentinites are witnesses to the tremendous forces that are continuously changing our planet to this day.“

Or as another example the text of Rob from the Netherlands about the “wind-abraded granite“: It is told that that part of the country was formed by the ice ages, that the glaciers provided the transport of huge chunks from Sweden and that later the wind gave the small fragments their present shape.

Some of the texts are available only in original languages.

The portal is one of the many projects of FocusTerra at ETH Zurich. The goal of this initiative is “to learn more about the complex processes within and on our planet In an inspiring environment and in easily understandable terms.”

Everyone is invited to participate in the Travel Stones. A YouTube video explains how to do it, and a form to fill in makes uploading easy. “The exhibition was inspired by the project ‘Nowhere – The Trace of Stones’ by Anna Sullivan.“ according to the webpage.

Travel Stones


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(22.03.2023, USA: 03.22.2023)