The Dilcher-Popa Field Laboratory is a private, joint
project of Mihai E. Popa (University of Bucharest) & David L. Dilcher
(Indiana University, member of the National Academy of Sciences), which
involves research, education and recreation in Bigar, in the fields
of Geology and Biology. The main idea of this project regards a small
field facility in the Almaj Mountains, where research, educational and
recreational activities can be undertaken.
The laboratory is in the Czech village of Bigar, Berzasca
Commune, Caras-Severin County, in the middle of the Almaj Mountains,
and in the middle of the Iron Gates Natural Park, the largest natural
park in Romania. The facilty is always open for graduate and undergraduate
students, for researchers, for tourists interested in Geology and Biology,
both Romanian and foreigners, and last but not least, for friends.
In 2005, Professor David L. Dilcher and myself decided
to co-participate in this project, so this house was bought in order
to accomplish these aims. The property, bought in 2006, includes the
house itself, a large shed, and a 1883 square meters of land, slowly
descending towards and including a segment of the Mosnic creek.
The Dilcher-Popa Field Laboratory
Address: 34, Dolacko Str., Bigar, Berzasca Commune, Caras-Severin County,
The Bigar village is a Czech village in the middle
of the Almaj Mountains, upstream of the Sirinia Valley, a strictly preserved
scientific site for botanical diversity. The Sirinia Valley shows flamboyant
geology, as the creek cuts the synclines and aticlines of the Jurassic
and Cretaceous limestones of the Sirinia Basin. The village is 17km
upstream of the confluence between the Sirinia and Danube Valleys. More
on Czech villages
of the Almaj Mountains
can be found online, as well as an excellent photographic
gallery of Bigar
by Ivo Dokoupil.
The Bigar village,Berzasca Commune, Caras-Severin
County, view towards NW. Click for a higher
The Almaj Mountains represent an exceptional area from
geological and paleontological (both paleobotanical and paleozoological)
points of view. Covering mainly the Sirinia Basin, the Almaj Mountains
imply a difficult geographical area, isolated and rough, as one of the
last true wild areas in Europe. It is also the place of the longest
anti-Communist guerilla in Eastern Europe, rooted only in the late sixties
by Securitate troops, due to isolation and to exuberant nature. The
isolation is a direct effect of the geology of these mountains, permitting
the preservation of rare natural heritage values, in terms of both biodiversity
The geological diversity of Almaj Mountains, as well
as that of the Iron Gates Natural Park in general, implies various terranes,
with sedimentary, magmatic and metamorphic rocks at their highest diversity.
This area is the perfect ground for field trips in Geology and Biology,
so the necessity of a field facility here became evident. This is why
the decision to buy a house in Bigar was taken, in order to accomodate
a field library, a desktop computer, a dissecting microscope, a reference
collection of rocks, minerals and fossils, among other basic research
and educational tools.
Occurrence of Bigar in Romania.
The Almaj Mountains host a wide range of occurrences for Mesozoic
and Paleozoic plants, many of them represented my small galleries
for coal, abandoned today. The Baia Noua mine, SE of Bigar, is one
of the last mines of Europe for Carboniferous coals. Mesozoic invertebrate
sites are also ubiquous, while a wide series of outcrops make possible
excellent research in sedimentology, structural geology, magmatic
and metamorphic petrology, and tectonics.
Photographs of field courses in Bigar: summer
of 2008, summer of 2009, summer
of 2010, the written log of summer 2010,
summer of 2011, summer
of 2013 and the written log of summer
2013, summer of 2014, summer
of 2015, summer of 2016, summer of 2017.