October 14th, 2007

Permanent intolerable uncertainty

Potash Mountain

Thanks to Google Earth, I can now tell you that the photo I posted the other day of a mysterious mountain near Fulda is, in fact, a potash mine, the Kaliwerk Neuhof-Ellers, 12 km southwest of Fulda. You can see a satellite image of it here - the postash works are nearly as big as the town they border!

What I don't yet understand about potash mines is how they relate to this image. Is this a mountain being broken down into potash? Or is this a heap of potash mounded up from over a century of working a site 1000 feet underground.

(Potash is used as fertilizer, and to make soap, glass, and in, among other things, photography. Until the nineteenth century, the world's potash was usually formed as a tree byproduct. In nineteenth century, techniques for rendering it from potash-rich minerals came into use; now, nearly all of the world's potash is produced from minerals, with most of it being produced in Canada, Russia, and Belarus. Supposedly, in 1925, France and Germany (including the one near Fulda) produced 95% of the world's potash.