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Brown Coal Surface Mining and its Ecological and Social Consequences

Brown Coal – Land Use Change through Surface Mining

The example of the German Hambach surface mine, located close to Cologne, serves to explain in detail the formation and location of brown coal as well as the different mining methods.
In addition, the pupils compare and evaluate the development of different areas affected by surface mining. In doing so, they are supposed to get an idea of the relevance of brown coal surface mining for the German energy supply and to be able to assess the development after the recultivation.
In this teaching unit, diverse remote sensing data are being used ranging from optical satellite data like MODIS or LANDSAT to a digital terrain model. The pupils will explore these data sets with the help of small and intuitive tools acquiring knowledge of land use change via the topic of brown coal surface mining.

Time required
5 lessons
2: easy
Recommended Prior Knowledge



Roland Goetzke
Florian Thierfeldt


brown coal
resource utilisation
surface mining
terrain models


The pupils ought to be able to recognise changes in landscape due to brown coal surface mining with the help of satellite imagery.

The pupils have to explain formation, location and mining of brown coal.

The economic relevance of brown coal as well as its ecological and social consequences will be discussed.