GEOTOPE: THE KAOLIN LAKE
Former open-cast mine with 10 hectares of water
Kaolin was formed in the late Cretaceous and Tertiary periods (lignite period) around 90 to 60 million years ago through the chemical weathering of quartz porphyry. This white clay is used as a raw material for producing household ceramics, porcelain and tiles, but also as an additive for paper, paint, varnish, rubber, plastic and much more.
It was mined here in two pits from 1901 to 1965. To process the raw kaolin, Freiherr von Schönberg commissioned the construction of a production plant with a slurry works, machine and boiler house, drying sheds and workshops. In 1906, a second kaolin plant was built by the „Hedwigsfreude“ trade union. This was later taken over by Schönberg. One plant was subsequently demolished and the two mines were merged in 1921. In 1946, the mine was nationalised (nationally owned enterprise – VEB).
In 1964, the development of another pit began south of the open-cast mine (behind today’s pedestrian bridge). However, as the overburden above the kaolin was too thick and the kaolin layer too thin, the plant was closed a year later. The building complex was turned into a plant for the production of mineral mixtures (additives for animal feed), which is still in production today.
The open-cast mine was recultivated and became flooded. Three bungalow settlements were built on the former spoil heaps. Today, the area is a local recreation area and the lake, which is up to 30 metres deep, is a popular fishing spot. It is interesting to note that at the „Hedwigsfreude“ bridge over the Kaolin Lake, a thin lignite seam is also embedded in the kaolin outcrop. This is a slightly glacially compressed outcrop of the lignite deposits of Gross- and Kleinzschepa.
▶ Type of geotope: outcrop
▶ Rock: Kaolin
▶ Geological period: Tertiary (glacially influenced)
Image below: Lignite outcrop north of the „Hedwigsfreude“ bridge over the Kaolin Lake