, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 491-493
Date: 27 Mar 2009

Editors’ message: The housing crisis from underground—damage to a historic town by geothermal drillings through anhydrite, Staufen, Germany

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Geothermal energy can be used for heating, electric power generation and other applications (e.g. Seyboth et al. 2008). The confidence of the public in this technology is currently compromised by several bad examples where inappropriate implementation of geothermal installations has caused avoidable damage. A dramatic but instructive case is presented here. This article is a plea both for the reasonable use of geothermal energy and for more geologic and hydrogeologic competence and education in geothermics.

Connoisseurs of classical German literature know the historic town of Staufen (7,800 inhabitants; Fig. 1) as the town of Doctor Faust, immortalised by the eponymous drama written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). The town is currently suffering severe damage that began immediately following geothermal drillings in the city centre. Fig. 1

Location of the town of Staufen and impression of the historic town hall in the city centre

Staufen is located in the Upper Rhine Graben, wit ...