GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, FEBRUARY 2007, 58, 1, 103—104
ERLÄUTERUNGEN ZUR STRATIGRAPHISCHEN TABELLE VON
DEUTSCHLAND 2005 (ESTD 2005)
Explanations to Stratigraphic Table of Germany 2005
Newsletters on Stratigraphy Vol. 41, No. 1—3. Gebrüder Borntraeger, Berlin—Stuttgart 2005, 405 pp.
Price: 280 EUR.
In order to prepare a new, refined edition of the International Stratigraphic Guide, the International Commission on
Stratigraphy concentrated its effort on the re-definition of national stratigraphic codes. In the framework of the Geologi-
cal Stratigraphical Sections and Points Programme, this work is associated with searching for international and regional
key sections. Until the International Geological Congress in Oslo (2008), all 88 GSSP points should be defined.
In the context of this research programme, the stratigraphic revision of classical Phanerozoic profiles and areas is espe-
cially invited. Germany was the area, where the classical studies of Alberti, von Buch, Frech, Geinitz, Geyer, Quenstedt,
Schindewolf, Strombeck, and many other founders of stratigraphy as a scientific discipline were done. From this point of
view, the recent book edited by Manfred Menning & Andreas Hendrich in Newsletters on Stratigraphy (41: Explana-
tions to Stratigraphic Table of Germany, 2005) deserves special interest.
This book has been compiled due to the common effort of 88 authors from 38 institutions. It consists of 28 chapters
dealing with problems of stratigraphic study of individual Phanerozoic time slices in Germany. The explanations are ac-
companied by numerous sketches and tables on 405 pages of the text, and by 16 coloured tables in the appendix. In
spite of the unifying effort of the editors, individual chapters substantionally differ one from another in style, method
and in approach to the subject of study. In fact, the text chapters could be grouped into five parts (Teminological Intro-
duction, Early Paleozoic to Pennsylvanian, Permian and Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, Cenozoic).
Two introductory chapters were written by M. Menning (together with F.F. Steininger). They deal with the trends in
German stratigraphy, schools and concepts, development of terminology, and stratigraphical knowledge as a whole in
the last three years (since 2002, when the first concept of a new stratigraphical scale was published). Since that time, the
Devonian, Triassic and Late Jurassic tables have considerably changed. In the community of German stratigraphers,
there is still some oposition to Salvador’s and Hedberg’s concepts. Moreover, the German Cambrian, Ordovician, Devo-
nian, Carboniferous and Permian divisions differ from the Global Time Scale of Harland & Ogg. Although an agreement
was reached that the terms “Thuringian”, “Saxonian” and “Autunian” are unclear and not recommended for futher use, a
judgement that the terms “Buntsandstein”, “Muschelkalk” or the “Keuper” should be considered as “obsolete and termi-
nologically incorrect” is still a matter of debate. A new lithostratigraphical (?) term “Folge” has been introduced. Lutz et
al. (1999) defined this term as “the time section (more-or-less equal to the formation), limited by quasi-isochronous sur-
faces of different origin”. However, the meaning of this term is varying in the use of different authors.
Early Paleozoic and Carboniferous stratigraphical problems are discussed by 21 authors in the five following chapters.
Their text is written in old routine style, in which the mixing of lithostratigraphical and chronostratigraphical terms and
the use of jargon (“deutsche Proterozoikum”, “Profil des Neoproterozoikum”, “Existenz von Kambrium”,“sibirische
Unterkambrium”,“deutsche Kambrium”,“Fazies des deutschen Devon”,“Graptolithen-Schiefern überlagern das Silur”...) is
frequent. The authors suggest the term “Silesium” for Pennsylvanian, despite of its base lies deeper than the top of the Mis-
sissippian. They designate the thickness in meters of Mississippian stages, and of the “Sedimentary Silesian” as well (thus
in the meaning of lithostratigraphic units!).
The following eight chapters form part of the most important contribution of the book. They deal with Permian and
Triassic stratigraphical problems. In spite of the long history of problems with the diachronism of biostratigraphical in-
dicators, many troubles with the correlation (called here the “Paternoster-Stratigraphie”), the German sequence starting
with the Rothliegend up to the Keuper deposits is one of the best studied European Phanerozoic sequences now and it
evokes many interesting thoughts. The Permian to Triassic infilling of the Mid European Basin should be the most com-
plete and one of the most continuous Pm/Tr sequences (37 Myr) anywhere. The Pm/Tr boundary should be indicated by
microsferuls in the Calvőrde Folge. What a pity that the tables illustrating the division, structure and correlation of the
sequences are arranged not very systematically, being placed rather far from the text…
The term “Folge” in use of these authors is close to cyclostratigraphic unit. In Rothliegendes and Zechstein, they repre-
sent “Sohlbankzyklen 1. Ordnung” – megacycles with duration of 0.5—2 Myr, (consisting of Milankovich long eccentrici-
ty cycles), which are recorded as rock bodies limited by “quasi-isochronous” surfaces (“sie begrenzen Abfolgen von
Schichten, die, wenn auch nicht exakt gleichzeitig, so doch innerhalb einer bestimmen Zeitscheibe abgelagert wurden”).
In Muschelkalk, the “Folgen” have the character of “quasi-isochronous” formations. These formations were situated cen-
trally in the basin: they were neighbours of typical diachronous formations along the basin marginal parts. The allostratig-
raphy of the Muschelkalk is based on the marker horizons called here the “Leitbänke” or “Leitflächen” ( = time reference or
The Keuper Group contains more than thirty lithostratigraphic units. The “Folgen” in the Keuper are allostratigraphic
units – the definition of their boundaries should be focused not on the facies changes, but on the marker horizons,
which, according to sedimentological indicators, are supposed to represent isochronous surfaces. It is noteworthy that
the rock record represents less than 50 % of the time in these sequences. Therefore, both formation and “Folge” represent
different but complementary views on the same rock pile, and their boundaries may cross over one another.
In summary, the “Dyas to Rhaetian” sequence should be represented by 33 “quasi-isochronous Folgen” (with a dura-
tion of 0.4 to 3.5 Myr) consisting of 230 eccentricity cycles. Rotliegende precession 20 kyr cycles are grouped into ec-
centricity 100 kyr cycles, 400 kyr “long-eccentricity” cycles and these form 2.8 Myr long “Folgen” (Parchim-, Mirow-,
Dethlingen-, Hannover-, Zechstein-Folge). The 58 Buntsandstein cycles (duration of 6 Myr) have a short eccentricity
(100 kyr) character. The Lower Muschelkalk (2.8 Myr) comprises twenty eight short eccentricity – parasequences, the
Middle Muschelkalk (1.2 Myr) consists of 13 cycles, the Upper one (1.6 Myr) of 14—16 cycles. The Keuper com-
prises 40 cycles separated by 6 large gaps (the largest one, called the “Altkimmerische Haupdiskordanz” lasted 12 Myr).
The Keuper resembles the Rotliegende Group – they both lasted up to 40 Myr (twice as long as the Muschelkalk, Bunt-
sandstein and Zechstein groups together), with frequent gaps. The Norian and Visean represent the longest stages of the
whole Phanerozoic history. However, the Keuper sedimentary record (consisting of 40 cycles with sedimentary rate of
30—40 mm/kyr) contains more than 20 gaps (0.5 to 12 Myr long) and paleosoils.
Three chapters are devoted to the Jurassic stratigraphy. New chronostratigraphic data show that the Late Jurassic lasted
15 Myr (Kimmeridgian 6.5 Myr, Oxfordian 4 Myr, Tithonian 4 Myr). The authors stress chronical problems with the identi-
fication of boundaries (Rhaetian Sandstone vs. Hettangian Psilonotus Sandstone, Toarcian-Aalenian “Posidonienschiefer”,
Tithonian-lower Berriasian Purbeck Facies). Classical terms like Liassic, Dogger and Malm have a provisional status only.
They are rather equivalent to lithostratigraphic terms Ith-, Hildesheim- and Herford Group in northern Germany. In southern
Germany, names like “Schwarzer-, Brauner-, Weisser Jura Gruppe” are proposed. However, these designations are not con-
cordant with the international terminology and are mixed with other jargon-like expressions in the text (Süddeutscher
Jura, globaler Jura). The use of formal lithostratigraphic terminology is also wrong in several examples (Angulatenton Fm,
Angulatensandstein Fm, Grypheensandstein Fm, Numismalismergel Fm, Ostreenkalk Fm, Psilonotenton Fm, etc.).
The Cretaceous lithostratigraphic units contain many local names without modern re-definitions. Moreover, they are
not hierarchically arranged. Formalized unit names occur in several regions (Lower Saxonia) only. Jargon expressions
are frequent (überwiegend in Schriebkreide Fazies entwickelte Oberkreide, Kreide von Norddeutschland, Sächsische
Kreide, süddeutsche Kreide, alpinen Kreide). The stratigraphy is based on classical biostratigraphy; the description of
sediments mostly lacks any sequence- or cyclostratigraphic interpretation. Three megasequences are recognized (Berria-
sian to Lower Albian, middle Albian to Lower Coniacian and middle Coniacian to Maastrichtian) and interpreted as a
consequence of the Alpine tectonism.
The remaining nine chapters deal with Tertiary (including Quaternary) stratigraphy. They discuss sequences of partial
basins (Lower and Upper Rhine Valley, north-western, eastern and southern Germany, Hessian Depression, Mainz Basin,
Alpine units). Although many local developments exist, two principal sedimentary megacycles have developed due to
the Alpine orogenesis (Paleocene—Lower Eocene and Oligocene—Upper Neogene). It is only a pity that the authors keep
a descriptive approach (lithological and stratigraphical description with paleogeographical implications) and sequence
stratigraphic, climatic and cyclostratigraphic aspects are only mentioned.
In spite of a few weak points, the book is very important contribution to international discussion on modern trends in
the Phanerozoic stratigraphy. The authors expressed a (modest) purpose of the Stratigraphical Table to serve as a stable
basis for German Basin stratigraphy for at least five to ten years. I am convinced that this task has been succesfully ful-
filled and that their common work documents the admirable progress in German stratigraphical reasearch.
Jozef Michalík, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava