Eifel excursion report - Last week, some ten Dutch journalists, one Belgian journalist, some thirty young researchers and one excellent guide travelled through the German volcanic Eifel to learn about natural CO2 sources.26 May 2011
In May some ten Dutch journalists, one Belgian journalist, some thirty young researchers and one excellent guide travelled through the German volcanic Eifel to learn about natural CO2 sources. Besides the interesting topic ‘CO2 from geological origin', exchanging knowledge about CATO2 issues among researchers and with journalists was the main dish of this excursion.
Ronnie van Overmeeren, who studied volcanism and turned it into hobby during his professional career at TNO, guided the CATO excursion along many volcanic sites in a green and splendid Eifel. His stories and explanations about the geological history of the region made the small crowd in the crater-theatres listen in silence.
The Eifel hills show a paramount of geological activity. Craters of millions of year old lie next to younger remains of volcanic activity from less than 13,000 years ago. Spatter cones (the more traditionally-shaped type of volcano) lie next to the local ‘Maars', which are lakes in volcanic holes in the ground. And of course some natural CO2 wells were visited, being the direct link to the CATO research programme.
The Eifel vents some 0.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year into the air. Other than the CO2 in Dutch gas fields (sometimes up to 75%) which is of fossil origin, the Eifel's CO2 comes from volcanic activity in the earth's crust. "The Eifel obviously is not a good place to store CO2," says CATO programme director Jan Brouwer. "The situation in the Nederlands is quite different. But the Eifel shows that you should take any CO2 safety issues seriously. Which of course CATO does."
The young AIOs and trainees got to know each other and each other's work. Also for the visiting journalists, the excursion was an eye-opener, months after the hectic discussions about CO2 storage in Barendrecht or North of the Netherlands. Some articles already appeared in national newspapers, specific magazine articles are yet to be published.
The articles especially point out that the CATO programme has slightly changed directions, but it is continuing to look for scientific answers to social, economic and technical questions. However critical they still were on CCS in general, journalists especially liked the open communication by the CATO community. "And it also worked the other way around: the researchers liked communicating with the journalists," says Sander van Egmond, communication manager of CATO. "The excursion definitely decreased the distance between research and journalists, which will hopefully lead to some more mutual trust in the future."
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