Werkbau Ruegen
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The history of the chalk from the island Rügen

As far as the history of chalk from the island Rügen in the northeastern part of the island Rügen, on the peninsula Jasmund is concerned, extensive chalk deposits can be found. Chalk itself is a natural, fine grained and white calciumcarbonate, which developed in the sea as a result of deposits of the shell residues of animals of earlier history, the so-called foraminiferals and cocoliths. These micro-organisms lived in the sea which covered the whole of Europe between Jurassic and Tertiary several million years ago. From the sedimented fragments of the lime housings which consisted of thin shells, calciumcarbonate developed as a result of the solidification; visible for everyone in the form of the chalk coast of Jasmund.

Chalk from the island Rügen is a Maastricht chalk for which the fine grain structure and the high calciumcarbonate content of at least 97 % are typical. The calciumcarbonate consists of typical calcite crystallites the form of which results from the former organic origin. These crystallites with a grain size of 0.3 - app. 3 µm usually have an isometric form and make microporous aggregates.

As mentioned at the beginning, the chalk industry of Rügen has a long tradition in the form of winning, washing, drying, and pulverizing. The foundation stone of the chalk industry on Rügen was the extensive chalk research work which already began in the first half of the 19th century and which was carried out by Friedrich von Hagenow, born in Langenfeld near Loitz in 1797. In 1832 he received the exclusive right of usufruct for the chalk pits near the Stubnitz. Since this point of time chalk has been won in open mining and by washing out unwanted admixtures such as flints, in the vernacular known as firestones, and the coarse constituents, known as coarse gravel. Of course, this technology seems to be rather easy but in those days it was a really tough job which moreover could only be carried out in the season. There was no such industrial utilization as we know it today. People were hardly aware of what to do with the natural product chalk.

"It was good for limework, but not sufficiently binding for masoning."

This is a quotation of Johann Jacob Grümke. Already in those days he stated:

"However, it would be advantageous for the inhabitants, if nature had created rock masses that could be used as stone pits, instead of chalk."

Based on the conditions of those days, the quantities produced and sold in the middle of the 19th century were surely considerable, but according to today's standards, they are hardly interesting. The center of the washed chalk fabrication was the village Sassnitz which had favorable winning conditions. The technology itself required a great deal of physical labor. Roped up elutriators had to knock out the raw material at a steep break-off wall using navvy picks; then they had to transport it to the agitator on trolleys. There the coarse firestone material was separated in large vats by adding water and moving irony hooks. The chalk dissolved in the water flew through the sedimentation channels, on the bottom of which fine impurities were deposited as chalk milk, also known as chalk pulp, into the sedimentation tanks. Here the cleaned chalk pulp deposited in a layer of 30 cm. After the discharge of the cleared water, a filling-up was carried out until the chalk finally reached a thickness of about 1 ½ meters. To accelerate the solidification of the deposited chalk, it was put into jugs or stamped.

The next working stage was to shake out the deposited material, which still had a moisture content of 30 - 35 %. This means that the heavy, curdled pulp was shoveled from the tanks to the cars. Then, formers transported it by means of push carts to the dry sheds and spread it out, formed into parts which had the size of shovels, on the lower rows. The formed parts had to be piled anew several times to finally dry during a storage time of about 4 weeks, obtaining a residual moisture of app. 5 %. With this the chalk was ready to be dispatched. Much larger quantities of chalk were won and sold as raw chalk in the beginning of the 20th century when the chalk industry developed. The focal point of this production were especially the pits of Jasmund and for this reason about one dozen excavators were already working before 1945. At this point of time the oldest pits at the east shore of Jasmund and near Lohme and the pits of Dumsevitz, Rosengarten, and Altkamp on Südrügen were no longer in operation.

The raw material from the pits of Jasmund was transported to Martinshafen by means of a chalk train and to the harbor of Sassnitz by means of a ropeway, to be shipped from there. Already in 1928, the two harbors transshipped considerable amounts of raw chalk. Additionally, important quantities were dispatched at Klein Stubben.

Bulk purchasers were the Portland cement factories in the delta area of the river Oder. In 1945 only very small amounts of washed chalk were produced. Mainly, it was transported by train to Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, to the area of the river Ruhr, and to Breslau and Stettin.

In 1928 about 500,000 tons of raw chalk from the pits of Jasmund were loaded in Martinshafen and in Sassnitz. In contrast the dispatch of the washed chalk produced was only 80,000 tons. And except for few approaches this amount was fabricated by pure manual operation.

The end of the Second World War temporarily brought the chalk industry to a standstill. However, the economy could not renounce this precious material and this resulted in the fact that after 1945, 19 chalk plants were in operation on the island Rügen. In 1946 the plants of the Stettiner Portlandzementfabrik, department Lancken, and the Stettiner Portlandzementfabrik, Kalk- und Kreidwerk Sassnitz were incorporated into the chalk plant owned by the state Mecklenburg and in 1948 the plants of the Pommersche Industrieverein, Werk Sagard and Werk Wittenfelde were brought together with the Volkseigene Kreidwerke Rügen. In 1949 the "Landeseigene Kreidewerk Land Mecklenburg" and the Pachtbetrieb Buddenhagen were affiliated to become Volkseigene Kreidewerk Rügen. Furthermore the Gemeindekreidewerk Küster Sassnitz was added in the year 1951. In 1954 another 7 single plants were assigned to the state-owned company and in 1957 the creation of the VEB Vereinigte Kreidewerke Rügen was accomplished by incorporating the Kreidewerk Garz, Sassnitz, and the Kreidewerk Funk & Radvan in Gummanz. The rising industrialization led additionally to a considerable extension of the ranges of application of chalk. In the form in which it was offered at this point of time it could no longer fulfill these requirements. For this reason, there was a need to develop and build up a technology which guaranteed chalk with residual moistures of about 0.5 % and a fineness at an upper limit of 63 µm. At that point of time, the quantities required came to 125,000 tons per year. In order to realize this industrial necessity, a new chalk plant was designed and built. In 1962, the test operation in the state-owned plant Kreidewerke Rügen started using an advanced and fully mechanized technology. The expenditure of time from the place of winning through to the packaging of the dried material was limited to a little more than 80 minutes.

In those days, the hard manual work at the wall was replaced by means of transport, which were state of the art at that point of time, such as the excavator UB 80; the transport and the conveyance of waste were carried out on rails.

Bigger chalk trolleys and excavators (UB 162-1) were put into use. Experimentally, 20 m³-trolleys normally used in the open mining of brown coal, transported waste after modifying the rails as required.

Depending on the conditions of the ground, heavy trucks took over the transport of waste and special excavators were used to lay the track panels. Despite the ups and downs of the production results of the individual years, mainly influenced by changing weather conditions, 185,000 tons of washed chalk and 55,000 tons of coarse gravel for the industry and the agriculture could be obtained per year, which in the light of the conditions of those days was enormous. The assignment of the Kreidewerk Rügen to superior institutions changed rather often. Sometimes we belonged to the board of the district Rostock, then to the association of the state-owned companies Bindebaustoffe Halle, afterwards to VVB Zement Dessau which was then renamed into the state-owned company Zementkombinat Dessau. In 1984 the juridical independence of our company was cancelled. The Kreidewerk Rügen was now assigned to the state-owned company Zementwerke Rüdersdorf, as Part 6 of the company.

The production-technical development in the chalk plant did not take place as fast and extensively as the administrative development, however, it brought along innovations, e. g. the system of the combined winning and pretreatment of chalk, known as "mobile washing device" (or in the vernacular called "The Drum").

Passing several stages, the mobile washing device became a stationary one. Raw chalk was "delivered" again.

In the true sense of the word "Die Wende", the turning point in the German history, was also a turning point for the chalk plant. The Rüdersdorfer Zementwerk was sold to the Readymix group, which meant that the chalk plant WAS separated out and became a Treuhand-company. The first rotary bucket excavators took over the conveyance of raw chalk in the open mining in Wittenfelde, the conveyance with mobile excavator and the rail transport were stopped.

On August 13th, 1993 the plant was privatized into Kreidewerk Rügen GmbH within the consolidated companies of Vereinigte Kreidewerke Dammann. This was the foundation stone for extensive investments of at present 40 million DM. A most advanced system for the production of chalk from winning to loading was erected. Raw chalk won with the aid of an additional rotary bucket excavator which is in the meantime moved from the open mining Promoisel with about 25 million tons of available raw chalk, gets to the plant via a conveyor system with a length of 2 km where it is processed using our new wet preparation technology to become the well-known product Rügener Schlämmkreide with different degrees of fineness. Accordingly the appliance purposes differ a lot.

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