STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 87
GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, 55, 2, BRATISLAVA, APRIL 2004
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE TYPE AREA OF THE
GRUND FORMATION (MIDDLE MIOCENE, LOWER BADENIAN)
IN THE MOLASSE ZONE OF LOWER AUSTRIA
and PETER PERVESLER
Geological Survey of Austria, Rasumofskygasse 23, A-1031 Wien, Austria; firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Paleontology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Wien, Austria; email@example.com
(Manuscript received June 5, 2003; accepted in revised form December 16, 2003)
Abstract: Excavations in the type area of the Grund Formation (Middle Miocene, Lower Badenian) in Lower Austria
showed four different lithofacies. Sandy beds with typical vertically arranged sedimentological features like erosive
base, basal concentrations of coarse shell debris, mud-clasts and clast-horizons, normal graded beds, horizontal lamina-
tion of the upper plane bed, concentrations of plant and wood debris, asymmetrical ripples at the top, and synsedimentary
deformation structures point to storm-induced event deposits. The sands were mainly deposited as tabular to slightly
wedge-shaped sand-sheets; only extreme events produced channel-shaped sediment bodies. Pelitic layers at the top of
such event-strata represent fair-weather conditions. The basal shell debris mainly contains mixed, synchronous-
allochthonous, highly fragmented but determinable marine faunas from shallow to moderately deep environments. To-
gether with land snails and bones of terrestrial vertebrates bottom currents transported the shelly fauna from shallow-
marine to offshore areas. Paleocurrent data from groove marks, gastropod orientation, asymmetrical ripples and small
dunes point to a transport towards ESEENE, from a coastal area at the margin of the Bohemian Massif. The various
lithofacies clearly reflect a proximaldistal trend from the shoreface to the offshore area. The development from the
Skolithos to the proximal Cruziana ichnofacies to the proximalarchetypical Cruziana ichnofacies indicates an upward
deepening from middle shoreface to upper offshore environments. The role of the Early Badenian transgression versus
extreme storm events responsible for the proximaldistal trend and the lithological and ichnological development is
Key words: Neogene, Miocene, Molasse Zone, Grund Formation, storm deposits, ichnofacies.
Since the 19
century the Middle Miocene Grund Beds
(Grunder Schichten: Rolle 1859), north of Hollabrunn, in the
Molasse Zone of Lower Austria have been famous for their fos-
sil content. Especially their diverse and well preserved mollus-
can faunas led to numerous taxonomic studies (e.g. M. Hörnes
1851, 1870; M. Hörnes & Partsch 1856; R. Hoernes &
Auinger 18791891; Kautsky 1928, 1936, 1940; Sieber
1937a,b, 1947a,b, 1949, 1952, 1956, 1960; Schultz 2001). Al-
though the Grund Beds had considerable and country-wide
importance for Miocene stratigraphical correlations (history of
investigation cf. Rögl et al. 2002; Æoriæ et al. 2004) not much
detailed geological work was done until the end of the 20
tury. Geological mapping and investigations have been done by
Prinzinger (1852), E. Suess (1866), Vetters (1914), Stiny
(1928), Holy (1939), Grill (1947, 1958, 1960) and Weinhandl
(1953, 1954, 1957a,b, 1959). However no detailed sedimentologi-
cal and taphonomic studies have been carried out. New geologi-
cal mapping of map-sheets Retz, Hollabrunn and Hadres since
1990 (cf. Roetzel 1998; Roetzel et al. 1999a) revealed in detail
the occurrence of the Grund Formation (Roetzel et al. 1999b)
and its varying lithology. The lack of outcrops inhibited de-
tailed facies investigations and sedimentological studies so far.
Therefore in the summers of 1998 and 1999 two field cam-
paigns were organized by the Department of Paleontology of
the University of Vienna to study the sedimentology, paleon-
tology and ichnology of the Grund Formation in its type area
in artificial outcrops (e.g. Roetzel et al. 1999c). In 1998, about
900 m north of the village of Grund near the wine cellars, 5
trenches (section A, B, C, D, E) were excavated on the plots of
land numbers 896 and 894. In the next year, about 400 m to the
West and East of the wine cellars along the main road to Znoj-
mo, another 3 trenches (section F, G, H) were opened on plot of
land number 755 in a higher topographic position (Figs. 2, 3).
Altogether about 13 meters of predominantly sandy sedi-
ments of the Grund Formation could be studied. Contempo-
rary investigations on micro- and nannofossils (Cicha 1999;
Rögl et al. 2002; Æoriæ & vábenická 2004; Spezzaferri
2004), molluscs (Harzhauser et al. 1999; Pervesler & Zuschin
2002, 2004; Mandic 2004; Zuschin et al. 2001, 2002, 2004),
ichnofossils (Pervesler et al. 1998, 1999; Pervesler & Roetzel
2002; Pervesler & Uchman 2004) and vertebrates (Daxner-
Höck 2003; Daxner-Höck et al. 2004; Göhlich 2003; Miklas-
Tempfer 2003; Nagel 2003; Schultz 2003; Ziegler 2003) have
been carried out. This paper deals with sedimentological and
ichnological investigations and environmental reconstructions
in the type area of the Grund Formation.
In the Molasse Zone (Alpine-Carpathian Foredeep) of
Lower Austria, which is a part of the Central Paratethys, the
88 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
first marine transgression started during the Egerian (Late Oli-
gocene to Early Miocene). North of the Danube shallow-water
sediments associated with the Early Miocene marine trans-
gression (EggenburgianOttnangian) are confined, on the sur-
face, to the eastern margin of the Bohemian Massif in the sur-
roundings of Eggenburg. The following Karpatian transgression
in the uppermost Early Miocene led to sedimentation of the
Laa Formation, which has the largest regional surface distribu-
tion of Miocene sediments (Fig. 1).
Middle Miocene (Lower Badenian) marine sediments are
mainly restricted to the surroundings of Hollabrunn and
Krems. In the Hollabrunn area, they mostly overlie the
Karpatian, wheras in the Krems area they rest on Egerian and
Ottnangian sediments (Fig. 1).
The Grund Formation occurs in the Hollabrunn area; to-
wards the West it passes laterally into the Gaindorf Forma-
Recent geological and paleontological investigations of the
Grund Formation were carried out among others by Cicha
Fig. 1. Geological map of the Molasse Zone north of the Danube in Lower Austria (modified after Roetzel et al. 1999b).
(1999), Cicha & Rudolský (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997,
1998, 2000), Ètyroký (1996, 1997), Novák (2000), Roetzel
(2003a), and Stráník (1992, 2000).
The largest interconnected distribution area of the Grund For-
mation is the flat to slightly hilly landscape northwest to north-
east of Hollabrunn. There the type area of the Grund Formation
is situated between the villages Grund and Guntersdorf, just east
of the main road to Znojmo (Fig. 2), where a number of wine
cellars were built within the Grund Formation. A smaller occur-
rence of the Grund Formation exists south of Znojmo, close to
the Austrian-Czech border, in the vicinity of Unterretzbach and
Hnanice (cf. Roetzel et al. 1999a).
South of the main area of the Grund Formation, Sarmatian
marine to brackish sediments of the Ziersdorf Formation and
fluvial sediments of the Pannonian Hollabrunn-Mistelbach
Formation overlie the Grund Formation. To the East and West
the contact with the underlying Karpatian Laa Formation is
clearly concordant, whereas to the North a tectonic contact
can be assumed (cf. Fig. 1).
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 89
Fig. 2. Position of the sections from the excavations 1998 and 1999 in the type area at Grund.
The estimated total thickness of the Grund Formation is
about 450 m, the main portion of which does not crop out.
The OMV-drilling Roggendorf-1, about 5.5 km southeast of
Grund (Fig. 1; cf. Æoriæ & Rögl 2004) revealed the thickest
continuous section of Lower Badenian sediments of altogether
358 m. This section comprises the lower part of the Grund
Formation. The depth interval 2255 m reveals light brown to
greenish grey, silty to sandy, micaceous marly shales interca-
lated with grey, micaceous, mostly fine, sometimes medium to
coarse sands and gravels. Basal clastics with sandy gravels,
sandstones and conglomerates occur at 255 to 360 m depth.
The clast petrography comprises sandstone, limestone, dolo-
mite, quartz, crystalline rocks and chert.
It can be assumed that much of the Grund Formation, crop-
ping out at the surface, belongs to the upper part of the forma-
tion. Similarly to the drilling Roggendorf-1 they consist of 2
to 20 cm thick clayey to sandy and marly silt-beds, alternating
with fine- to medium-, rarely coarse-grained sand-beds in the
same range of thickness. Locally clayey silts with thin sandy
layers occur. Between Grund and Wullersdorf and north of the
villages of Guntersdorf, Kalladorf and Immendorf, at least
two, several tens of meters thick sandy intercalations occur.
They contain the famous, well-preserved molluscan fauna.
One of these sandy intercalations also occurs in the type area
of the Grund Formation.
In the northern- to northeasternmost part of the Grund For-
mation, west of Mailberg, upward thickening lenticular inter-
calations of biogenic limestones appear in the sandy and silty
sediments. These limestones form the hilltops of the Buch-
berg, Galgenberg, Haidberg, Steinberg and Blickenberg and
constitute a separate formation, called the Mailberg Formation
(cf. Prinzinger 1852; Vetters 1914; Stiny 1928; Sieber 1952;
Weinhandl 1953, 1957b; Ètyroký 1996, 1997; Novák 2000).
This formation is up to 25 m thick. Main biogenic components
are coralline algae, molluscs, balanids, foraminifers, bryozo-
ans, serpulids and sea urchin spines. Mainly thick-walled mol-
luscs are often concentrated in coquinas (Sieber 1952). Thin
pelitic layers within the limestones contain a rich and well-
preserved micro- and nannofauna, typical of the Lower Bade-
nian (Achuthan 1967).
To the west and southwest the Grund Formation passes into
a sandier to gravelly facies, called the Gaindorf Formation (cf.
Roetzel et al. 1999b). It is possible, that the Gaindorf Forma-
tion is connected to the south and southwest below younger
formations with Lower Badenian sediments in the Krems area.
The district south to southeast of Krems contains Lower Bade-
nian submarine delta conglomerates with pelitic intercalations
belonging to the Hollenburg-Karlstetten Formation (Grill
1957). In the distal part to the north and west, in the Krems
bight and the Wachau Valley, they interfinger with pelitic sed-
The Gaindorf Formation occurs in this area between Gain-
dorf and Mühlbach am Manhartsberg and in the Schmida Val-
ley between Ziersdorf and Sitzendorf an der Schmida. An arti-
ficial outcrop in the Gaindorf Formation at Mühlbach (cf.
Roetzel 2003b) allowed the correlation of terrestrial and ma-
rine biostratigraphy in the Middle Miocene Molasse Basin by
a fairly rich fossil assemblage (Harzhauser et al. 2003).
According to Daxner-Höck (2003) the rodent fauna of
Mühlbach is representative for the late mammal Zone MN5
and is definitely older than the Ries event, which is dated
roughly at about 14.9 Ma. This observation points to an abso-
lute age of the Gaindorf Formation of about 15.1 Ma, corre-
sponding to the top of the planktonic foraminiferal Zone M5b/
Mt5b (Rögl & Spezzaferri 2003).
A direct correlation of the Gaindorf Formation with the
Grund Formation is based upon foraminifers (Rögl et al.
2002; Rögl & Spezzaferri 2003; Spezzaferri 2004), ostracods
90 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
Fig. 3. Excavations at Grund-type area. Left side: excavation 1998, section B1-B2. Right side: excavation 1999, section F.
(Zorn 1999, 2003, 2004) and micro-mammals (Daxner-Höck
2003; Daxner-Höck et al. 2004) (cf. also Roetzel et al. 1999b;
Harzhauser et al. 2003).
According to these results and in correspondence with Papp
et al. (1978) the Grund Formation and the Gaindorf Formation
biostratigraphically belong to the Lower Lagenidae Zone of
the regional ecostratigraphical foraminiferal zonation. This
points to an Early Badenian age of the studied sediments, thus
correlatable to the Langhian of the international timescale (cf.
Rögl et al. 2002; Rögl & Spezzaferri 2003; Spezzaferri 2004;
Æoriæ & Rögl 2004).
About 13 m of predominantly sandy sediments of the Grund
Formation were studied in eight excavated sections (Figs. 3,
Quaternary sediments covered the Neogene sediments in all
sections. Because of a morphological depression, in sections
A to D this Quaternary cover was up to 3 m thick. Sections E
to H, situated at a higher elevation, mostly showed a thinner
Quaternary cover. The basal portions of these Quaternary sed-
iments mostly consist of fine to medium sands, sometimes
laminated or cryoturbated and with reworked Neogene mol-
luscs. The sandy material is reworked from the Neogene and
probably fluvial and eolian in origin. On top of these sands,
Quaternary loess and loam was deposited, which is capped by
the Holocene soil.
Four different lithofacies have been recognized in the Mi-
ocene sediments of the Grund Formation (Table 1). They will
be described in detail.
Fig. 4a. Legend to sections A to H (Fig. 4b4d).
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 91
Fig. 4b. Sections A, B1, and B2 from the type area of the Grund Formation at Grund (position cf. Fig. 2).
Fig. 4c. Sections C, D, and E from the type area of the Grund Formation at Grund (position cf. Fig. 2).
92 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
Fig. 4d. Sections F, G and H from the type area of the Grund Formation at Grund (position cf. Fig. 2).
Table 1: Main characteristics of the lithofacies in the type area of the Grund Formation.
60 to 120 cm thick, medium to fine sandy beds, normal graded, basal coquinas, mud-clasts. At the top
horizontal lamination (upper plane bed) and plant debris. Sometimes highly erosive lower bedding
planes and multiple intersecting of sandy beds, basal groove marks. Water escape structures, load-
structures and ball and pillow structures. Rarely pelitic layers, mostly as relics, laterally passing over
into layers of mud-clasts.
Trace fossils absent
20 to 45 cm thick, medium to fine sandy beds, normal graded. Shell-debris and mud-clasts finer-grained
than in A. Horizontal lamination (upper plane bed) and plant debris in the top portion of beds,
sometimes with asymmetrical ripples at the very top. Tabular to slightly wedge-shaped sand bodies.
Erosive structures rare. Thin pelitic layers frequent.
Monospecific bioturbation in sandy layers
close below pelitic layers (Asterosoma).
Steep shafts connect the Asterosoma
clusters from subsequent sendimentary
Frequent alternation of sands and silts. 20 to 50 cm thick, medium to fine sandy beds with horizontal
lamination. Normal grading, basal shell debris and mud-clasts less frequent than in A and B. Small
dunes or asymmetrical ripples at the top. Intercalated thick (5 to 20 cm) pelitic layers and beds with
horizontal lamination or undulatory bedding, sometimes thin sandy layers or asymmetrical ripples
inside. Bedding often destroyed by bioturbation.
Diverse trace fossil assemblage (Areni-
colites, Diplocraterion, Ophiomorpha,
Zoophycos, Saronichnus) starting from
pelitic beds downwards into sandy
sediments or spreading within the pelitic
layers (Thalassinoides, Scolicia)
Thick, massive clayey silt beds, few sandy layers and lenses.
No distinct structures visible but possibly
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 93
Fig. 5. Lithofacies A. (A) Fining-upward sandy bed with basal shell debris and erosive base. Note ball and pillow structures at the top (ar-
row). (B) Small channel-shaped sediment-body with shell debris of marine and terrestrial molluscs and mud-clasts (arrow). (C) Compos-
ite sand body consisting of multiple erosive channelized sand-beds. Note partly eroded pelitic layer at right side (arrow) and mud-clasts
at left side (arrows). (D) Densely packed, matrix-supported clast-horizon with shell debris in the matrix. (E) Synsedimentary deformation
structure below a pelitic layer close to an erosive margin.
Lithofacies A mostly consists of 60 to 120 cm thick sandy
beds with distinct normal grading of coarse-grained to medi-
um- or fine-grained sands and sharp, sometimes erosive bases
(Fig. 5A). Occasionally such sandy beds are multiply inter-
secting each other, only preserving the basal portion of the
normal graded beds and forming up to 50 cm thick composite
sediment bodies (Fig. 5C). Frequently coquinas occur at the
base of the normal graded beds, forming beds or lenses con-
taining a mixed allochthonous fauna, mainly of marine bi-
valves and gastropods and subordinately scaphopods (tusc
shells), chitons (polyplacophores), corals, crabs, serpulids,
balanids, bryozoans, echinids and different vertebrates
(Fig. 5A,B). In some shell beds additionally land snails and
bones of terrestrial vertebrates like rhinos, small carnivores
and micro mammals point to a terrestrial supply. According to
the terminology of Kidwell et al. (1986) the molluscan shells
are mostly orientated concordant to oblique and show a
densely packed, bioclastic-supported biofabric.
94 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
Fig. 6. Lithofacies B. (A) Fining-upward sandy beds with basal fine-grained shell debris and pelitic layers at the top. From the pelitic lay-
ers monospecific bioturbation of Asterosoma reaches downwards into sandy beds. (B) Small runnel filled with mud-clasts, cutting into a
series of fining-upward sandy beds. Subdivisions of the scale: 20 cm. (C) Form sets (arrows) of asymmetrical ripples at the top of hori-
zontally laminated sands.
Flat-shaped, angular to well-rounded mud-clasts also are
common in these beds (Fig. 5B,C,D). The clasts measure up
to 20 cm in diameter, may show internal lamination and bio-
turbation and are armed by shell debris. Outcrops in neigh-
bouring wine cellars occasionally show clasts up to 1.2 meter
in size, with internal bedding preserved. In some cases, these
clasts can form up to 40 cm thick, densely packed, but usually
still matrix-supported clast-horizons with a high amount of
shell debris in the matrix (Fig. 5D). The top and base of these
horizons are generally irregular and wavy and show snout-like
Most biogenic particles of the coquinas are highly fragment-
ed and show signs of abrasion and bio-erosion. Nevertheless,
they can be readily determined. Most of the fauna is synchro-
nous-allochthonous. Only a small portion, predominantly her-
bivorous gastropods from the eulittoral, show obviously strong
abrasion and striking limonitic staining, being most probably
heterochronous-allochthonous and reworked from Karpatian
deposits below (Harzhauser et al. in Roetzel et al. 1999c;
Zuschin et al. 2001, 2004). Analogous to the grain-size trend,
the shell-debris shows declining particle-size as well as particle-
density from base to top within the sandy beds (Fig. 5A).
The beds are often massive at the base and show horizontal
lamination towards the top. Concentrations of plant and wood
debris are frequently present in the top portion, which is
sometimes covered by thin, nearly non-bioturbated pelitic lay-
ers. In most cases, however, these layers are preserved only as
relics (Fig. 5C) or completely eroded. Occasionally they pass
laterally into a horizon of mud-clasts. In one case, small
groove marks, probably caused by dragged off fragments of
molluscs, were visible at the upper bedding plane of a pelitic
bed (Fig. 10). In rare cases a mud drape was deposited on an
erosive surface, before the next sandy bed was laid down.
In some cases, when pelitic layers overlie the sandy beds,
deformational structures like convolute bedding, ball and pil-
low structures, and water-escape structures (Fig. 5A) have
been observed. Below a thick pelitic sequence of lithofacies D
in section A (cf. Fig. 4b) the sands of lithofacies A show in-
tensive synsedimentary deformational structures, which most
likely can be interpreted as a combination of load- and water-
escape structures. Another case of synsedimentary deforma-
tion in sandy sediments below a pelitic layer, close to an ero-
sive margin, can be interpreted as folding and sliding due to
undercutting (Fig. 5E).
Due to the limited extent of the excavation trenches it is diffi-
cult to estimate the dimension of erosive depressions. However,
in neighbouring wine cellars channel-shaped sand bodies with
singular normal grading, at least 78 m wide and 0.51 m thick,
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 95
Fig. 7. Lithofacies C. (A) Alternation of horizontally laminated sandy beds and pelitic layers. Small cross-bedded dune (arrow) on top of
the lower sandy bed. (B) Zoophycos starting from thick pelitic bed and reaching downwards into horizontal laminated sand.
were observed. In an outcrop west of Nexenhof, a composite
channel-shaped sediment body was traceable for at least 100 m.
In lithofacies B the 20 to 45 cm thick sandy beds are much
thinner than in lithofacies A, but also show distinct normal
grading from coarse to medium or fine sands (Fig. 6A). Shell-
debris and mud-clasts at the base of the beds are finer-grained
than in lithofacies A and decline rapidly towards the top in
grain-size and density. The sandy beds usually show upper
plane bed horizontal lamination, but can also be massive in
their lower portion. Sometimes asymmetrical ripples at the top
of the beds, which may occasionally be developed as form
sets, indicate a reduction of current velocity at the end of the
depositional event (Fig. 6C). The sandy beds are covered by
thin (13 cm) pelitic layers in nearly all cases (Fig. 6A). A
dense, but monospecific bioturbation (Asterosoma) reaches
3 cm downwards from these pelitic layers into the sandy beds
(Fig. 6A, Fig. 12). In neighbouring wine cellars the thickness
of these sandy beds and pelitic layers is laterally very stable.
The sand bodies are mostly tabular, sometimes slightly
wedge-shaped. In rare cases, small and narrow runnels, 60 to
80 cm wide and 10 to 25 cm deep, with erosive base and filled
with mud-clasts, cut into the sandy beds (Fig. 6B). In a three-
dimensional outcrop, the long axis of such a runnel had a
NWSE orientation. Lithofacies B is the predominate type in
the wine cellars in the type area.
Significant for lithofacies C is a frequent alternation of
sandy and pelitic beds and strong bioturbation originating
from the latter. Like lithofacies B, it contains horizontally
laminated, 20 to 50 cm thick, coarse to fine sandy beds (Fig.
7A), but fining-upward, small mud-clasts, and plant debris at
the top are less frequent than in lithofacies A and B. Beds
without basal shell debris can also occur. Rarely asymmetrical
ripples and small dunes with low-angle, sigmoidal foresets
were recognized at the top of sandy beds (Fig. 7A). In contrast
to lithofacies A and B, the pelitic layers and beds are much
thicker and more frequent. Besides that they show frequent al-
ternation with sandy beds. Sometimes the 5 to 20 cm thick
pelitic beds show horizontal lamination or undulatory bed-
ding, rarely with thin sandy layers or lenses of asymmetrical
ripples. In most cases the bedding is nearly completely de-
stroyed by intense bioturbation. Starting from these pelitic
layers a diverse trace fossil community reaches down into the
sandy beds (Fig. 7B). Diplocraterion, Ophiomorpha, Areni-
colites and Zoophycos are very frequent structures. Scolicia
and Thalassinoides can be observed in thicker pelitic layers.
As an exclusively autochthonous inhabitant of these beds the
chemosymbiotic burrowing bivalve Thyasira michelottii oc-
curs (Harzhauser et al. 1999; Zuschin et al. 2001; Pervesler &
Zuschin 2002, 2004). The Thyasira-shells are sometimes con-
nected with deep shafts, but in most cases with ventral probes
from the Saronichnus abeli type.
Lithofacies D was recognized only once in section A (cf.
Fig. 4b). It consists of at least 1.5 m, mostly massive, possibly
thoroughly bioturbated clayey silts with only a few sandy lay-
ers and lenses. At its base this pelitic package and the sandy
sediment below were strongly affected by synsedimentary de-
formational structures, which most likely can be interpreted as
a combination of load- and water-escape structures. No dis-
tinct bioturbation was visible in these pelites.
Interrelation of lithofacies
In the excavated sections of 1998 and 1999 (Fig. 4bd) the
recognized lithofacies show distinct successions in a vertical
direction (Fig. 8). In the lower sections A to E (Fig. 4bc) the
lithofacies A to C consequently follow one another from base
to top. Only in section A exceptionally lithofacies D follows
above lithofacies A. Section B proves that lithofacies A is also
present in a lateral position to lithofacies D. Another lateral
change of lithofacies A to B can be recognized between sec-
tions B2 and C. A lateral change from lithofacies B to C oc-
curs between sections D and E. In sections F to H the basal
portions of the profiles belong to lithofacies BC, whereby
96 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
Fig. 8. Interrelation of lithofacies in sections A to H (A to D litho-
facies of the Grund Formation; Q Quaternary sediments).
Fig. 9. Results of grain-size analysis of samples from the excavation
Grund plotted in a ternary sand (2 mm63 µm) silt (63 µm2 µm)
clay (< 2 µm) diagram (after Füchtbauer 1959 and Müller 1961).
Fig. 10. Pelitic surface with groove marks (arrows) reflecting the
paleocurrent direction from West (lower left) to East (upper right).
the lower parts of sections G and H lithologically resemble
lithofacies B and the upper parts show more characteristics of
lithofacies C. Section E reveals lithofacies A on top of lithofa-
cies C, the first of which taking a position laterally to lithofa-
cies BC in section F. In sections F and H, as in section E,
lithofacies BC is overlain by lithofacies A, whereas in sec-
tion G a transitional lithofacies AB is present on the top (cf.
Summarizing these observations it can be stated that there is
a threefold, vertical succession of lithofacies A to C, but later-
al shifts and transitional types of lithofacies are also evident
From the excavation at Grund the grain size of 70 samples
was analysed by sieving and sedigraph-analysis.
The sandy sediments of lithofacies A to C have nearly simi-
lar grain size distribution. Generally they can be classified as
medium to fine sands with a mean between 2.14 and 3.90 Phi
(Fig. 9). Rarely silty fine sands or gravelly and coarse sands
occur and particles of coarse sand- or fine gravel-size are ex-
clusively biogenic in origin.
The pelitic sediments show larger differences from clayey-
silty sand, clayey silt-sand and sand-silt-clay to sandy clay-
silt, sandy silt-clay and silt-clay (Fig. 9). The content of silt
and clay is quite the same, but the content of sand strongly
varies. The mean varies between 5.00 and 10.23 Phi.
Most of the pelitic layers of lithofacies A have a lower con-
tent of sand-sized particles than the pelites of lithofacies B
and C. The sorting of the pelites is generally very bad to ex-
tremely bad. The high portion of sand in pelites of lithofacies
B and C is most probably due to the admixture of sand by bio-
The pelitic samples of lithofacies D show similar grain-size
distributions as the other pelites, but they contain the highest
amounts of silt among all samples (Fig. 9).
Meaningful data for paleocurrent analysis are rare in the
outcrops at Grund. In one case in section F, the upper bedding
plane of a pelitic bed displayed small, parallel-arranged
groove marks (Fig. 10). Most probably these were caused by
fragments of molluscan shells being dragged over the mud-
surface by strong currents. The orientation of these groove
marks in a WNWESE-direction (Fig. 11) roughly corre-
sponds to the dip-direction of the foresets of a single asym-
metrical current ripple (080/10) in a sandy bed directly above.
The long-axis of the gastropod Turritella in the lower por-
tion of a bipartite coquina of the same section (Fig. 4d, at
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 97
Fig. 11. Paleocurrent data from groove marks and long axis from Turritella in section F. Arrows show current direction, dotted area: stan-
2.9 m in section F) were orientated roughly parallel to the
groove marks (Fig. 11 Turritella 1). The orientation of Tur-
ritella in the upper part of the coquina (Fig. 4d, at 3.2 m in
section F) pointed to a current direction from SW (Fig. 11
The orientation of the groove marks and Turritella 1 rough-
ly matches the foreset direction of a few small asymmetrical
current ripples (R
: 22.5 cm, R
: 1516 cm) in section G,
dipping towards SSE (140/15, 145/20, 150/18). The long axis
of a small runnel in section C (Fig. 6B) also displayed a NW
Data from the foreset direction of small asymmetrical cur-
rent ripples (R
: 1.51.8 cm, R
: 1112 cm) and dunes in sec-
tions D and E (015/20, 040/20, 060/10) point to a transport
from SW to NE, analogous to that deduced for Turritella 2.
Considering all these data a transport from approximately
WNWWSW towards ESEENE can be assumed.
Trace fossils from the Skolithos and the Cruziana ichnofa-
cies dominate the Grund Formation in the investigated sec-
tions, but traces typical of the Zoophycos ichnofacies were
The Skolithos ichnofacies in Grund was found in sections G
and H. Both occurrences are intercalations within lithofacies
A or AB and related to high-energy events. The Skolithos
ichnofacies contains the trace fossils Ophiomorpha, Diplocra-
terion and Arenicolites all of them being typical of higher en-
ergy environments. These vertical structures represent a post-
event community and are related to opportunistic colonization
of the storm beds. Arenicolites occurs in different environ-
ments, but is typical of shallow-marine settings (Crimes
1977). Diplocraterion is common in event beds, where it doc-
uments the opportunistic post-event colonization (Frey &
Goldring 1992). Ophiomorpha nodosa produced mostly by
callianassid shrimps is one of the most common shallow-ma-
rine trace fossils. It typically occurs in the Skolithos ichnofa-
cies, but also in deeper shelf tempestites (Frey 1990; Frey &
Skolithos to proximal Cruziana ichnofacies
In the sections C and D Asterosoma was documented in the
lithofacies B, in section F, G and H in a transitional type of
lithofacies BC. The trace makers of Asterosoma settled the
transitional zone between the Skolithos and the proximal Cru-
ziana ichnofacies during short periods of quiet conditions. As-
terosoma is interpreted as a selective-feeding burrow of a
worm (Pemberton et al. 2001). The main portions of the clus-
ters are located in the sands directly below the overlying pelit-
ic layers. Steep shafts connect the clusters from subsequent
sedimentary sand-pelite successions and are interpreted as
equilibrium-structures (Fig. 12). Asterosoma occurs in the up-
per lower shoreface in soft substrates.
The archetypical Cruziana ichnofacies in the Grund Forma-
tion was recognized in the sections E, F and H and corre-
sponds mostly to the lithofacies C, or to a transitional type of
lithofacies BC. The archetypical Cruziana ichnofacies oc-
curs in more distal storm deposits and contains trace fossils
from the Cruziana ichnofacies as well as additional elements
from the Zoophycos ichnofacies.
Mostly horizontal components of the Cruziana ichnofacies
are the trace fossils Scolicia and Thalassinoides representing
fair-weather conditions. These structures were constructed in
thick semi-consolidated mud layers and mostly truncated by
later erosion. The chemosymbiotic structures Saronichnus
(produced by the chemosymbiotic bivalve Thyasira michelot-
tii) and Zoophycos are a record of trophic competition that
pressures trace makers to deeper and more complex feeding
than simple deposit feeding (Pervesler & Uchman 2004). The
horizontal and chemosymbiotic trace fossils represent the resi-
98 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
Fig. 12. Several subsequent generations of Asterosoma connected
by steep shafts interpreted as equilibrium-structures. Lithofacies B
in section C.
Interpretation and conclusions
The lithology and sedimentary structures of lithofacies A
document a rapid alternation of deposition and erosion and a
high amount of reworking. Especially the well-developed nor-
mal grading in thick sandy beds points to short-term, high-en-
ergy current events followed by rapid deceleration of current
velocity. The basal concentration, fining-upward, and declin-
ing density of coarse shell debris in single beds support this
interpretation. Rapid alternation of erosion and deposition is
also demonstrated by the frequent occurrence of highly ero-
sive, channel-shaped lower bedding planes of sandy beds, dis-
playing a relief of up to half a meter deep. Continuous out-
crops in wine cellars show channel-shaped sediment bodies
up to 78 m wide and 0.51 m thick. However, a still larger
outcrop near the type area exhibited a composite, channel-
shaped sediment body with a length of at least 100 m. This
sediment body can be interpreted as a multi-storey filling of a
shallow submarine channel.
Synsedimentary deformation structures caused by dewater-
ing, such as water-escape structures, convolute bedding and
ball and pillow structures, also indicate quick deposition of
the sands above beds with such structures and generally high
sediment input. Also the groove marks on the surface of a pel-
itic bed, most probably caused by fragments of molluscan
shells, which were dragged over the mud-surface by strong
currents, reflect the high transport energy.
Horizontal lamination mostly in the upper part of sandy
beds is due to sediment transport under conditions of the up-
per-flow regime, causing lamination of the upper plane bed.
Concentrations of plant and wood debris at the top of such beds,
sometimes overlain by small asymmetrical ripples, indicate a
rapid decrease of current velocity after high-energy events.
Rare, thin pelitic layers between the thick sandy beds reflect
deposition during low energy conditions (fair-weather paus-
es). The nearly complete absence of bioturbation in pelitic lay-
ers points to only short-time intervals of mud deposition.
However, these layers are mostly preserved as relics, which is
demonstrated by the frequent lateral passing into horizons of
Clast-horizons with densely packed but usually still matrix-
supported mud-clasts, irregular wavy top and base and snout-
like lateral boundaries indicate transport as debris flows. Ob-
served clast-sizes up to more than 1 meter reflect high matrix
strength of these debris flows. Investigations of the foramin-
iferal fauna of such mud-clasts prove their origin and rework-
ing from synchronous Badenian sediments (pers. comm. F.
The mixed allochthonous fauna of the basal shell debris ho-
rizons is indicative of a marine, shallow to moderately deep,
sub-littoral, soft bottom environment (Harzhauser et al. in Ro-
etzel et al. 1999c; Zuschin et al. 2001, 2004).
In lithofacies B the fining-upward sandy beds are still a
clear reference to episodic, short-term, high-energy deposi-
tional events. But decreasing thickness of the beds, smaller
size of the biogenic components and only rare occurrence of
beds with an erosive base clearly reflect a decline of transport-
energy compared to lithofacies A. Horizontal lamination of
the sandy beds indicates sediment transport under conditions
of the upper-flow regime, analogous to lithofacies A. The re-
duction of the current velocity towards the top of the sandy
beds again is signified by the concentration of plant debris,
but also by asymmetrical ripples at the top of the beds. The
sandy beds are predominantly tabular to slightly wedge-
shaped, sheet-like bodies, which could be traced in wine cel-
lars for several tens of meters. Frequently occurring, several
cm-thick pelitic layers at the top of sandy beds contain a
monospecific bioturbation of Asterosoma trace makers, which
point to relatively longer calm periods of pelitic sedimenta-
tion between numerous subsequent events providing the
coarser sediments. Equilibrium structures connect several
subsequent Asterosoma clusters indicating that the Asteroso-
ma producers could survive the events and settle close below
the new seabottom-surface. Periods of at least several weeks
or months between the events can be assumed for a new gen-
eration of trace makers to bioturbate the sediments in the ob-
A further decrease of the hydrodynamic energy level is re-
flected by the lithology and ichnofacies of lithofacies C. This
is primarily expressed by an increasing thickness of the pelitic
beds. Quick, short-term deposition of sandy beds is less fre-
quent than in lithofacies A and B. Fining-upward successions
are mostly lacking within the sandy beds, but horizontal lami-
nation of the upper plane bed is still frequent. Asymmetrical
ripples and small dunes at the top of sandy beds are more fre-
quent, indicating rapid decline of current velocity during dep-
Long periods of benthic recovery after events of physical
disturbances led to an increase of bioturbation rate, burrowing
depth and trace fossil diversity. The variegated trace fossil
community is rich in individuals and is characterized by de-
posit feeders (Scolicia) and chemosymbiotic strategies
The most complex Zoophycos trace fossil systems are com-
posed of planar helical spreite structures, which in their lower
part change into numerous Rhizocorallium-like long lobes.
The upper, helical part is interpreted as a deposit-feeding
STORM-INDUCED EVENT DEPOSITS IN THE AREA OF GRUND FORMATION 99
structure, the lobes as sulphide wells for chemosymbiotic bac-
teria. The steep and deep lobes were probably produced in an-
oxic sediment. The spreite laminae in the lobes were produced
when the trace maker exploited the sediment to obtain the
Compared with lithofacies A to C the massive pelitic litho-
facies D shows a clearly different lithology. With the excep-
tion of a few thin sandy layers and lenses the pelites are very
uniform, showing no bedding or distinct bioturbation struc-
tures. However, it can be speculated, that the massive struc-
ture of this pelite is not of primary origin, but that it is due to
thorough bioturbation. Synsedimentary deformation struc-
tures at the base, mostly load-structures and water-escape
structures, affect both the pelites and the underlying sands and
are due to the sediment load of the pelites.
Lithofacies A and B are closely related, reflecting sedimen-
tation during short-term intervals of high-energy events with a
rapidly declining current velocity in a shallow-marine, sub-lit-
toral environment. Most probably the observed event strata
can be attributed to storms.
Typical features of storm-generated sandy beds, given, for
example, by Aigner & Reineck (1982), Johnson & Baldwin
(1996: p. 248) and Wanless et al. (1988) are 1. sharp erosive
base; 2. basal lag of mud-clasts, shells, plant debris and/or
rock fragments; 3. normal graded beds (reflecting deposition
from suspension); 4. horizontal or low-angle lamination,
which, in three dimensional outcrops, can turn out to be a
hummocky-type cross-stratification (deposition from suspen-
sion pulse); 5. wave-ripple cross-lamination (abating or post-
storm bedload movement); 6. a mud blanket at the top; 7.
post-event burrowed interval. Most of these characteristics,
part of which are similarly developed in Bouma-sequences of
turbidite beds (Aigner & Reineck 1982; Nelson 1982), are
present in lithofacies A and B. During such storm events
strong erosion and reworking by offshore directed bottom cur-
rents takes place in nearshore areas (Allen 1982, p. 471 ff.)
and sand is transported offshore (Gadow & Reineck 1969). As
the current velocity increases, the sea floor is eroded, but as
the current wanes, the sediment is deposited as a graded bed
(cf. Niedoroda et al. 1989; Swift & Thorne 1991). Fining-up-
ward and erosively bounded beds with horizontal lamination
of the upper plane bed and ripples at the top are typical fea-
tures of storm (cf. Nelson 1982; Johnson & Baldwin 1996: p.
249; Rice 1984). The parallel to low angle lamination of the
sandy beds reflects the shooting flow conditions of the upper-
flow regime during storms. The overlying asymmetrical rip-
ples or small dunes reflect rapid decrease of transport capacity
during waning storms and display a good tool for the recon-
struction of the transport direction of the wind induced bottom
current (Allen 1982).
The paleocurrent data at Grund point to current directions
from WNWWSW towards ESEENE. As shown by the
molluscan assemblage of the shell-debris horizons, the sedi-
ments were transported from nearshore to offshore areas, oc-
casionally with biogenic material from terrestrial sources be-
ing involved. These observations correspond to the
paleogeographical model, which assumes a coastal area of the
Molasse-sea along the margin of the Bohemian Massif, west
The highly erosive bases of sandy beds in lithofacies A in-
dicate a high amount of sediment cannibalism. The surviving
beds are the truncated basal portions of extreme-event depos-
its. Pelitic low-energy deposits of fair-weather conditions are
thin or even reworked as mud-clasts. These features point to a
proximal environment on the upper shoreface (Swift et al.
1991: p. 100).
In lithofacies B the graded sandy beds rarely show an ero-
sive base and they are regularly separated from each other by
mud intercalations. Therefore they are interpreted as single-
event beds. According to Swift et al. (1991: p. 101) the pres-
ervation of such pelitic layers is indicative of a distal environ-
ment on the lower shoreface and inner shelf, where the mud
caps, deposited during the last stage of waning storm flow,
survive through the accumulation process. In the offshore ar-
eas the storm layers were normally deposited as tabular to
slightly wedge-shaped sand-sheets, only extreme event beds
show a channel-like geometry.
Abrasion and fragmentation of molluscan shells in the basal
coquinas indicate wave influence in a shallow-marine envi-
ronment, however their graded appearance suggests that the
final transport and deposition of the skeletal elements is due to
short-term, high-energy events such as storm flows (cf. Für-
sich & Oschmann 1993). The characteristics of the shell con-
centrations of lithofacies A, like signs of transport, a sharp
erosive base and grading are comparable with those described
by Fürsich (1995) for proximal tempestites. In lithofacies B
the smaller size of shell-debris components points to distal
tempestites (cf. Fürsich 1995).
The nearly complete absence of bioturbation within the sur-
viving mud-layers of lithofacies A implies a short recurrence
time of storm events, whereas the monospecific bioturbation
of Asterosoma in lithofacies B can be interpreted as an indica-
tion for relatively long-lasting fair-weather periods and/or a
more distal environment.
Lithofacies C is still influenced by storms, however, the
lesser thickness of sandy storm beds and much thicker, highly
bioturbated pelitic beds point to a deeper and hydrodynami-
cally quieter environment. The larger colonization windows
allowed the construction of complex trace fossils like Zoophy-
cos. In Upper Pleistocene and recent sediments, Zoophycos
occurs at depths below 1000 m (Löwemark & Schäfer 2003).
The Zoophycos from the Grund Formation is one of the shal-
lowest (upper offshorelower shoreface) occurrences of this
ichnogenus after the Jurassic (Olivero 2003).
The predominance of horizontal lamination but without grad-
ing of the sandy beds is also an indication of a more distal envi-
ronment, where the energy of storm flows is less effective.
Lithofacies C is connected with the regionally predominant
lithofacies of the Grund Formation, which generally consists
of clayey to sandy and marly, frequently intensively biotur-
bated silts, alternating with fine to medium sands in intervals
of 2 to 20 cm. Such a distal lithofacies type, quite similar to
lithofacies D in section A, appears, for example, west of Grund
at the Windmühlberg, in a slightly higher position than in the
type area. The mud-dominated lithofacies D in section A can
probably be interpreted as a local relic of this muddy facies,
which is still widespread in the neighbourhood of the sandy
facies at Grund.
100 ROETZEL and PERVESLER
At first sight the lithological succession from lithofacies A
to B and C to D would imply a development from a proximal
to a distal marine environment (cf. Aigner & Reineck 1982)
typical for a transgressive system. However, a threefold repe-
tition of these lithofacies was met in the excavated sections
and also a lateral change and transitional types of lithofacies
are evident. Therefore it can be assumed that not only the
transgression of the Early Badenian sea towards the West,
onto the Bohemian Massif is responsible for that proximal
distal trend and the lithological and ichnological develop-
ment. Autocyclic driving forces, like extreme storm events,
also additionally influenced the lithological development in
the Grund Formation. The distribution of the trace fossil as-
semblages seem to support this interpretation. Lateral and ver-
tical changes of hydrodynamic energy seems to be the main
factor influencing the development and distribution of the dif-
ferent trace fossil assemblages in the Grund Formation (Per-
vesler & Uchmann 2004). The frequency of sedimentary
events and the period of recovery between subsequent events,
providing colonization windows of different size, controlled
the diversity and intensity of the trace fossil distribution.
From mapping in the distribution-area of the Grund Forma-
tion a belt-like distribution of a sandy facies in a direction
from WSW to ENE can be recognized clearly on the surface.
This observation is also confirmed by a number of drillings
(cf. drilling Roggendorf-1: Æoriæ & Rögl 2004; but also the
drillings at Immendorf and Gottlhof: cf. Fig. 1). That sandy
facies within the Grund Formation (including the type area at
Grund) can be regarded as an exceptionally thick, sand-rich
intercalation of extreme-event deposits, among a number of
analogous intercalations within a generally mud-dominated
Acknowledgments: Project 13743-BIO (Temporal and spa-
tial changes of microfossil associations and ichnofacies in the
Austrian marine Miocene) and Project P 13745-BIO (Evolu-
tion Versus Migration: Changes in Austrian marine Miocene
Molluscan Paleocommunities) of the Austrian Science Fund
and the Department of Palaeontology at the University of
Vienna supported this study. For their help during the excava-
tions we thank Barbara Becker, Hans Behawetz , Harald
Bichler, Gudrun Daxner-Höck, Hubert Domanski, Anton
Englert, Manfred Fritz, Sigrid Gmoser, Alexander Hodac,
Nadja Kavcik, Markus Lebmann, Martina Marinelli, Tom
Masselter, Franz Mayer, Gerhard Reiner, Fred Rögl, Manfred
Schmitzberger, Johann Stutz, Thomas Suttner, Petra Tempfer
and Franz Topka. For help with the evaluation of paleocurrent
data we thank Manfred Schmitzberger and Johann
Palaeontology). For discussion and critical remarks we thank
Hans Georg Krenmayr (Geological Survey Vienna), Martin
Zuschin (University Vienna, Department of Paleontology)
and Fred Rögl (Museum of Natural History, Vienna). For the
review of the manuscript we thank Nicolaas Molenaar
(Lyngby, Denmark), Tadeusz Peryt (Warszawa, Poland) and
Szczepan Porêbski (Krakow, Poland). Thomas Suttner (Uni-
versity of Vienna, Department of Paleontology) and Jacek
Ruthner (Geological Survey Vienna) did parts of the graphical
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