13.04.2018 change 13.04.2018

Silesia/ Scientists will create a 3D model of the washing tip from the UNESCO list

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Researchers from the University of Silesia will use a special scanner to create a 3D model of the washing tip - one of the post-mining objects of Tarnowskie Góry, inscribed on the UNESCO`s World Heritage List last year.

The extensive, several-hectare rock heap, reaching 17 meters in height, created over the years of mining activity, has been gradually destroyed for years by quad and motorbike riders who do not respect prohibition signs. The objective of the research project is to determine to what extent their behaviour contributes to the erosion of the tip.

According to Grzegorz Rudnicki of the Tarnogóry Region Association (Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Ziemi Tarnogórskiej, SMZT), the project initiated by scientists from the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the University of Silesia should be completed in less than a year.

"The washing tip mapping is one of the elements of cooperation between the City Council of Tarnowskie Góry, SMZT and the University of Silesia in Katowice, as well as another stage of the world heritage management plan implemented since 2016, related to improving the safety of this object" - notes Rudnicki.

"The goal is to capture the issue of this object being damaged by illegal quad rides. It will be a comparative analysis of at least two scans" - explains Karolina Radwan from the Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia, who specialises in environmental threats engineering.

The top of the washing tip, inscribed on the UNESCO`s World Heritage List along with more than 20 other objects in Tarnowskie Góry, Bytom and Zbrosławice, can be reached on foot or by bicycle. It is strictly forbidden to ride motor vehicles on it, as numerous signs inform.

"Unfortunately, many people deliberately disregard these prohibitions and still treat this extraordinary place as a motocross track, not taking into account the issues related to the preservation of our heritage for future generations" - emphasises deputy head of SMZT, Zbigniew Pawlak.

Researchers will use a 3D scanner to investigate the progress of erosion of the washing tip slopes. "The device sends a laser beam that is reflected and captured by the scanner. The range exceeds 2 km. It can make a 3D model with an accuracy of a millimetre" - explains Mateusz Karcz from the Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia. Thanks to the device, scientists will obtain a "cloud" of points in space for processing. This will allow to create a model of the washing tip and capture even very small changes.

The mayor of Tarnowskie Góry, Arkadiusz Czech, emphasized that the UNESCO title is not only an appreciation of the uniqueness of the local heritage but, above all, an obligation to protect it and preserve it for future generations.

Czech pointed out that the project is just one of the activities aimed at investigating and protecting the washing tip. Even before the entry on the UNESCO`s list, the city began an educational campaign informing about the uniqueness of the washing tip. Two years ago, the municipality agreed with the police and city guards to send patrols to the area on weekends, and co-financed an off-road car for the police.

Even earlier, in 2006, the City Council established the Culture Park on the 6.77 hectare area of the washing tip. The document to that effect provides for the protection of this unique area, including keeping the washing tip together with the layer of produced soil and vegetation cover in an unchanged form.

The characteristic, light-brown washing tip, also referred to as the "Red Rock", is a large heap of waste rock in the place of the former ore treatment plant of the royal silver, lead and zinc mine Friedrich that was active until the beginning of the 20th century .

The washing tip comes from the 1830s; it significantly increased its size with the increase in zinc production in the years 1870-1920. The scale of the object indicates the size of mining operations in the Friedrich mine. The waste came from sorting and washing dolomites containing ore, from which lead, silver and zinc ores along with iron ore were separated - Rudnicki explains.

In the years 1882-87, in the period of the largest development of the mine, the annual production was from 20,000 to 30,000 tons of ore. Mining in Tarnowskie Góry was continued after 1870 mainly due to the growing demand for zinc ore, which was extracted in large quantities from the southern section of the mine. Production of zinc ore in Upper Silesia reached its peak in 1910, when it amounted to 250,000 tons of metallic zinc.

At the end of World War II, the washing tip was included in the defence system, the remains of which are gun bunkers. Currently, the facility serves as a viewpoint from which visitors can admire the panoramic view of Tarnowskie Góry. The washing tip is covered with rare galmana grasslands, which include plants resistant to high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil. (PAP)

author: Krzysztof Konopka

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