GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, AUGUST 2008, 59, 4, 307—317
Accumulation and preservation of sediment on shallow
ramps are controlled by eustatic sea level, subsidence, the
hydrodynamic regime of the system, and the ramp morphol-
ogy. Consequently, lateral and stratigraphic facies changes
are a common feature, and sediment accumulation rate is
highly variable through time. Sea-level fluctuations of dif-
ferent amplitudes and frequencies play an important role for
shallow ramp systems and are recorded in a hierarchical
stacking of depositional sequences.
Depositional sequences are defined as stratigraphic units
comprising a succession of genetically related strata
(Mitchum et al. 1977) and based on seismic stratigraphy,
Vail et al. (1977) introduced the term first-, second-, and third-
order sequences with durations of 200—300 Myr, 10—80 Myr,
and 1—10 Myr, respectively. Later, when sequence analysis
was first applied to outcrops, the detection of small-scale se-
quences enabled a higher time resolution. Thus, Vail et al.
(1991) distinguished six orders of depositional sequences,
lasting from tens of millions of years to a few ten-thousand
years, with third-order sequences spanning a time interval of
0.5—3 Myr (Haq et al. 1987). Such third-order sequences are
usually called sequences or depositional sequences. Howev-
er, there is still a controversial discussion on the origin and
duration of third-order sequences. While first- and second-
order sequences are seen to be related to tectonic and tec-
tono-eustatic changes and fourth-, fifth- and sixth-order se-
quences are explained by climatically driven sea-level
fluctuations in the Milankovitch frequency band, third-order
Correlation of Tethyan and Peri-Tethyan long-term and
high-frequency eustatic signals (Anisian, Middle Triassic)
ANNETTE E. GÖTZ
and ÁKOS TÖRÖK
Darmstadt University of Technology, Institute of Applied Geosciences, Schnittspahnstr. 9, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany;
Department of Construction Materials and Engineering Geology, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Sztoczek út. 2,
H-1521 Budapest, Hungary; email@example.com
(Manuscript received September 17, 2007; accepted in revised form February 1, 2008)
Abstract: During Anisian times, broad ramp systems developed on the northwestern Tethys shelf and in the adjacent
Peri-Tethyan realm. In both paleogeographical settings carbonate series display characteristic cyclic patterns, reflecting
long-term and high-frequency eustatic sea-level changes. Facies successions recognized within the small-scale sedi-
mentary cycles document a rapid transgressive phase followed by a prolonged highstand phase. The erosional base of
these deposits is interpreted as a sequence boundary. Transgressive deposits are characterized by bioclastic limestones
with reworked lithoclasts. Bioturbated mudstones represent the highstand deposits. Sedimentation of laminated mud-
stones is documented during the late highstand phase. Maximum flooding is recognized by thin condensed marly layers
at the top of bioclastic beds. Such meter-scale sedimentary cycles are the basic stratigraphic building blocks of the
Anisian series of Hungary and Germany, representing ramp deposits of the proximal Tethys shelf and the northern Peri-
Tethys Basin, respectively. Comparison of both depositional environments leads to a better understanding of cyclic
sedimentation of shallow-water carbonates and controlling factors. Eustatic signals of different scales are analysed and
used for correlation of sedimentary series between different paleogeographical settings.
Key words: Anisian, Germany, Hungary, Peri-Tethys Basin, NW Tethys shelf, sedimentary cycles, carbonate ramps.
sequences are discussed as resulting from a combination of
tectonic and glacio-eustatic changes (Vail et al. 1991). Addi-
tionally, changes in intraplate stress (Cloetingh 1988) as well
as a combination of plate rifting and convergence superim-
posed on second-order volume changes of mid-ocean ridges
(Miall 1990) are under discussion causing third-order cyclic-
ity. Finally, Strasser et al. (2000) suggested the formation of
third-order depositional sequences, at least within a passive-
margin setting such as the northern margin of the Tethys
Ocean, being related to the 400,000 year eccentricity cycle
of the Earth’s orbit.
Hierarchical stacked cyclic patterns are well documented
in the Anisian (Middle Triassic) carbonate series studied in
Germany and Hungary (Fig. 1) and enable a detailed analy-
sis of eustatic signals used for long-distance correlation.
Sedimentary cycles were first described from the Anisian
Muschelkalk series of NW Germany by Fiege (1938). Later,
Schüller (1967) and Schulz (1972) published sections from
Lower Saxony and N Hesse and interpreted small-scale fa-
cies successions as shallowing-upward cycles. A first se-
quence-stratigraphic interpretation of meter-scale cycles rec-
ognized in Lower Muschelkalk sections from Central
Germany was published by Götz (1996). Middle Triassic
third-order depositional sequences (sensu Vail et al. 1991) of
the eastern part of the Germanic Basin, and corresponding
sedimentary deposits of the Alpine realm, were addressed in
the works of Szulc (1999, 2000).
In S Hungary, Middle Triassic ramp deposits of the Mecsek
Mountains show characteristic facies successions, related to
large-scale sea-level changes at the scale of third-order cy-
GÖTZ and TÖRÖK
Fig. 1. Stratigraphy, lithology and sedimentary features of the Upper Buntsandstein and Muschelkalk in Germany (Hesse) and Hungary (Mec-
sek Mountains). M.M. – Middle Muschelkalk. Arrows mark the Anisian interval studied. Legend: 1 – sandstones, 2 – dolomites, 3 –
limestones, 4 – oolitic limestones, 5 – nodular limestones, 6 – flaser-bedded limestones, 7 – marly dolomites, 8 – evaporites, 9 – silt-
stones, 10 – cross-bedding, 11 – hummocky cross-stratification, 12 – current ripple cross-lamination, 13 – parallel lamination, 14 – un-
dulating lamination in evaporites, 15 – bioturbation, 16 – slumps, 17 – chicken wire structures, 18 – dolomitic mottling, 19 – gutter casts,
20 – dessication cracks, 21 – current ripples, 22 – ooids, 23 – evaporite pseudomorphs, 24 – bioclasts, 25 – crinoids, 26 – brachiopods.
CORRELATION OF TETHYAN AND PERI-TETHYAN EUSTATIC SIGNALS (ANISIAN, MIDDLE TRIASSIC)
clicity (Török 1998, 2000). A correlation of these Tethyan
sequences with those described from the Peri-Tethys Basin
was first published by Török (2000). New biostratigraphic
data (Götz et al. 2003; Ruckwied et al., in prep.) enable a
more precise correlation of Anisian sequences of these two
different paleogeographical settings. The composition and
preservation of small-scale sequences within this ramp sys-
tem is addressed by the present study for the first time.
A detailed description of the sedimentary facies and pa-
lynofacies of the sections in Central Germany and S Hunga-
ry is found in Török (1993, 1998), Götz (1996), Götz &
Feist-Burkhardt (1999) and Götz et al. (2003).
During Anisian times, Central Europe was subdivided into
two major depositional areas: The northwestern Tethys shelf
and the semi-enclosed Peri-Tethys Basin (Germanic Basin)
that was connected with the Tethys Ocean via gate ways in
the South (Fig. 2). Broad ramp systems developed along the
Tethys shelf and in the adjacent Peri-Tethys Basin. Today
outcrops in the Northern Calcareous Alps (Rüffer 1995), the
Western Carpathians (Michalík et al. 1992), the Dolomites
(Zühlke 2000) and southern Hungary (Török 1998) docu-
ment the evolution of such ramps in the northwestern Tethy-
an shelf area (Dercourt et al. 2000). Muschelkalk sections
described from the Netherlands (Pöppelreiter 2002), Central
Germany (Götz & Feist-Burkhardt 1999; Rameil et al. 2000)
and Poland (Szulc 2000; Kedzierski 2002) display the Ani-
sian ramp morphology along a NW-SE cross-section in the
In Central Germany and S Hungary (Mecsek Mts), the Ani-
sian ramp deposits are mud-dominated (Götz 1996; Török
1998). The major lithofacies type is bioturbated mudstone, the
so-called “Wellenkalk”. Bioclastic marker beds and fossil-rich
units are used for lithostratigraphic subdivision (Fig. 1). Bios-
tratigraphy is based on conodonts (Kozur 1974; Götz 1995;
Kovács & Rálisch-Felgenhauer 2005; Ruckwied et al., in
prep.), palynomorphs (Mädler 1964; Barabás-Stuhl 1993;
Götz et al. 2003; Ruckwied et al., in prep.) and crinoids (Hag-
dorn & Głuchowski 1993; Hagdorn et al. 1997).
Cyclic stacking patterns and eustatic evolution
The Anisian deposits of the Peri-Tethys Basin document
the evolution of a NW-SE striking homoclinal ramp system
Fig. 2. Paleogeography of the Middle Triassic, modified after Szulc (2000) and Haas (2001), based on data by Ziegler (1982) and Mostler (1993).
GÖTZ and TÖRÖK
with a characteristic lateral facies distribution of lagoonal
marls and inner ramp peritidal dolomites, bioclastic mid-
ramp grain-/packstones and outer ramp mudstones (Lukas
1991; Götz 1996; Pöppelreiter 2002). The stratigraphic se-
ries is build up of bioturbated mudstones and bioclastic beds,
showing characteristic deepening-shallowing trends. The
basal mudstones of the Anisian (Lower Wellenkalk, Wellen-
kalk 1 Member) overlay the Upper Buntsandstein (Röt) silt-
stones and become marlstones up section. A some meters
thick marly interval in the middle part of the Lower Wellen-
kalk is overlain by bioturbated mudstones and platy mud-
stones with bioclastic grainstones (Oolithbank Member) on
top. The succeeding bioturbated mudstone package (Middle
Wellenkalk, Wellenkalk 2 Member) is overlain by brachio-
pod grain-/packstones (Terebratelbank Member). A third
platy mudstone series (Upper Wellenkalk, Wellenkalk 3
Member) with bioclastic peloid-grainstones (Schaumkalk-
bank Member) terminates the Lower Muschelkalk carbonate
series. The biostratigraphic framework of the carbonate se-
ries studied is based on conodonts (Götz 1995; Narkiewicz
1999), indicating a Bithynian to early Illyrian age. Thus, the
correlation of the Anisian Tethyan and Peri-Tethyan series is
very precise and enables a high time resolution. The strati-
graphic stacking of these sediments displays the long-term
eustatic history of the Peri-Tethyan realm with two major
flooding phases (Fig. 3). The first transgressive phase during
the Bithynian is recognized in the Lower Wellenkalk
(Wellenkalk 1 Member) mudstones with maximum flooding
in the uppermost part of this member, documented by a mar-
ly interval with numerous hardgrounds. Bioclastic grain-
stones of the Oolithbank Member represent the highstand de-
posits. The next transgressive pulse occurred within the
Pelsonian (Wellenkalk 2 Member) and culminated with the
deposition of thick brachiopod shell beds (Terebratelbank
Member) representing the most pronounced Anisian flood-
ing phase recognized over the whole Peri-Tethys Basin (Szulc
1999). Mudstones of the Upper Wellenkalk (Wellenkalk 3
Member) are interpreted as early highstand deposits. Pro-
grading shoal deposits of the uppermost Lower Muschelkalk
(Schaumkalkbank Member) are a characteristic sedimentary
feature of the late highstand phase.
Characteristic meter-scale facies successions build small-
scale sequences. These are the basic stratigraphic blocks of
the third-order depositional sequences (Götz & Feist-
Burkhardt 1999), and represent simple sequences sensu Vail
et al. (1991) and small-scale sequences after Strasser et al.
(1999), respectively. Götz (1996) interpreted these cycles as
high-frequency cycles that display orbital induced high-fre-
quency sea-level changes during Anisian times (Götz 2002,
2004). Stacked small-scale sequences form characteristic
sets of 3 to 4 sequences (Rameil et al. 2000; Kedzierski
2002) that are characteristic features of the third-order depo-
sitional sequences described by Aigner & Bachmann (1992)
and Szulc (1999).
Depending on the position within the ramp system, sedi-
mentary cycles show a spatially different development of fa-
cies successions. Deposits of the proximal ramp in the west-
ern part of the Peri-Tethys Basin show asymmetrical
sequences (Götz 1994, 1996; Rameil et al. 2000; Götz &
Wertel 2002). Bioclastic beds with reworked hardground
pebbles represent the transgressive phase. Since pebbles
were reworked during transgression, the hardground may
correspond to the sequence boundary. Bioturbated and lami-
nated mudstones are interpreted as highstand deposits
(Fig. 4). Maximum flooding is recognized by thin condensed
marly layers at the top of bioclastic beds. Lowstand deposits
are not recorded so that the transgressive surfaces at the base
of bioclastic beds directly overlie the sequence boundaries or
even erode it away (Götz 1996; Rameil et al. 2000). Re-
worked lithoclasts at the base of bioclastic beds derive from
mudstones or hardgrounds below these beds; they may be
completely reworked or are partially eroded. These erosional
(ravinement) surfaces are developed within the entire basin
and are used for basin-wide high-resolution correlation (Pöp-
pelreiter 2002; Götz 2004; Fig. 5).
Deposits of the distal ramp are represented by nodular and
platy mudstones and crinoidal wackestones/packstones,
showing symmetrical cycle patterns (Kedzierski 2002;
Fig. 3. Third-order depositional sequences of the Anisian in Central
Germany and Southern Hungary. Abbreviations: sb – sequence
boundary, TSd – transgressive deposits, mfz – maximum flood-
ing zone, eHSd – early highstand deposits, lHSd – late highstand
deposits. M.M. – Middle Muschelkalk.
CORRELATION OF TETHYAN AND PERI-TETHYAN EUSTATIC SIGNALS (ANISIAN, MIDDLE TRIASSIC)
Fig. 4. Small-scale sequences within the Lower Muschelkalk series (lower Jena Formation) of Central Germany and within the lower Lapis
Formation of Southern Hungary (Mecsek Mountains). Both cycles represent characteristic small-scale facies successions of proximal ramp
deposits. Abbreviations: sb – sequence boundary, TSd – transgressive deposits, mfz – maximum flooding zone, eHSd – early high-
stand deposits, lHSd – late highstand deposits. Scale 30 cm.
Fig. 5. Correlation of small-scale sequences of the Lower Muschelkalk ramp system (Peri-Tethys Basin), modified after Pöppelreiter
(2002). Grey line – sequence boundary, dashed line – maximum flooding.
GÖTZ and TÖRÖK
Fig. 5). Highly proximal sedimentary series are character-
ized by small-scale sequences built of dolomitic mudstones
and red marlstones of the lagoonal and inner ramp setting.
These sediments represent highstand deposits. Due to perma-
nent reworking, transgressive deposits are recorded by a peb-
ble lag (Pöppelreiter 2002; Fig. 5).
Cyclic patterns change in space and time. The superimpo-
sition of high-frequency and long-term sea-level changes is
stratigraphically documented by different thicknesses and
changing shallowing-up patterns. Within the long-term
transgression aggradational sedimentary successions and in-
creasing thickness of cycles are observed. Phases of maxi-
mum flooding are characterized by starvation, documented
in basin-wide deposition of condensed, organic-rich marls
and amalgamated brachiopod and crinoid shell beds with nu-
merous firmgrounds and hardgrounds. In the Peri-Tethys Ba-
sin the upper part of the Lower Wellenkalk and the Terebra-
tel Beds represent these phases (Fig. 3). Long-term highstand
deposits show shallowing-up facies successions and increas-
ing thickness of cycles. In addition, dolomitic mudstones are
characteristic features of the highstand phase (Götz 2002). In
the Peri-Tethys Basin the Oolith Beds and Schaumkalk Beds
represent these periods. Both units are shallowing-up sedi-
ment bodies, reflecting phases of regression during the late
highstand. In these stratigraphical units emersion surfaces
were described from the southeastern part of the basin, repre-
senting sequence boundaries (Szulc 1999, 2000).
The number of small-scale sequences described from the
Lower Muschelkalk (Bithynian-early Illyrian) series of the
Peri-Tethys Basin is relatively constant (E Netherlands: 16
(Pöppelreiter 2002); Hesse, W Thuringia and Lower Franco-
ny: 20 (Kramm 1994; Götz 1994; Götz & Feist-Burkhardt
1999; Götz & Wertel 2002); E Thuringia and Brandenburg:
21 (Rameil et al. 2000; Kedzierski 2002); and S Poland: 23
(Kedzierski 2002)). Small-scale sequences described from
carbonate series of the proximal ramp (E Netherlands) are
commonly incomplete successions or not recorded at all.
Distal sections (Poland) show the most complete sedimenta-
ry series with the highest number of cycles. Considering that
the Lower Muschelkalk was deposited within 2 to 3 million
years (Harland et al. 1990; Gradstein et al. 1995; Menning
1995; Hardenbol et al. 1998; Ogg 2004; Menning et al.
2005), the small-scale cycles may represent the short orbital
eccentricity cycle of 100,000 years. Stacked small-scale se-
quences forming sets of 3 to 4 sequences (Rameil et al.
2000) may be interpreted as reflecting the eustatic signal re-
lated to the 400,000 year eccentricity cycle.
The Mid-Triassic ramp system of S Hungary displays a
characteristic lateral facies distribution of coastal sabkhas,
inner ramp peritidal dolomites, shoal deposits and lagoonal
marls, storm to fair-weather influenced mid-ramp carbon-
ates, proximal to distal shell beds and low-energy outer ramp
deposits (Török 1998). The stratigraphic stacking of these fa-
cies units records long-term sea-level changes at a third-or-
der scale (Török 2000).
The earliest sediments of the ramp system are greenish-red
siltstones (Patacs Siltstone, Fig. 1) with pseudomorphs of an-
hydrite after gypsum, desiccation cracks, bird’s eye structures
and ripple marks indicating a peritidal setting. Phyllopods re-
flect a hypersaline environment, while lingulid brachiopods
are indicators of restricted marine influence. Sporomorphs in-
dicate an early Anisian age for the Patacs Siltstone (Barabás-
Stuhl 1993; Barabás & Barabás-Stuhl 2005). The succeeding
anhydrite and gypsum layers (Magyarürög Anhydrite) are arid
tidal flat, that is sabkha deposits (Török 1998) that are over-
lain by dolomitized peritidal carbonates (Hetvehely Dolo-
mite). The next unit of the deepening-upward succession con-
sists of bituminous limestones (Viganvár Limestone) with
bivalve coquinas (Szente 1997) interpreted as storm influ-
enced, temporarily anaerobic to dysaerobic mid-ramp deposits
(Török 1998). The overlying dolomitized calcarenites (ooid
packstones) of the Rókahegy Dolomite represent small car-
bonate sand bars of an inner ramp setting.
Anisian mid- and outer ramp deposits are characterized by
flaser-bedded limestones and marlstones (Lapis Limestone)
with numerous coquinas (tempestites) and hummocky cross-
laminated calcisiltite beds, indicating permanent storm activ-
ity. In the Mecsek Mountains the deepest facies are repre-
sented by brachiopod beds (Zuhánya Limestone), displaying
outer ramp deposits (Török 1993). Open marine conditions
are indicated by the presence of ammonites and conodonts
(Kovács & Rálisch-Felgenhauer 2005) as well as maximum
abundance of marine acritarchs (Götz et al. 2003). A
Bithynian-Pelsonian age for these beds is based on crinoids
(Hagdorn et al. 1997) and palynomorphs (Götz et al. 2003).
The Lapis Limestone corresponds to the lower and middle
part of the German Lower Muschelkalk (lower Jena Forma-
tion; Török 2000); the lower Zuhánya Limestone represents
a stratigraphical equivalent of the German Terebratelbank
Member (Götz et al. 2003; Fig. 3).
In the upper Anisian (Illyrian) significant spatial differences
occur in the grade of dolomitization and facies development.
In the western Mecsek Mountains, carbonates are extensively
dolomitized (Csukma Dolomite). These beds formed in the su-
pratidal to peritidal zone of the inner ramp. In the central part
of the Mecsek Mountains limestones with intercalated beds of
ooid-crinoid packstones/grainstones prevail (Kozár Lime-
stone). These sediments are considered to be reworked crinoi-
dal bioherms and ooid shoals and may mark a lowering of the
wave base due to relative sea-level fall (Török 1998).
Small-scale sequences are well documented within inner
and shallow mid-ramp deposits. During transgression, bio-
clastic limestones were deposited. A thin clay horizon on top
of these bioclastic beds marks the phase of maximum flood-
ing. Sequence boundaries are recognized by the erosional
base of transgressive deposits, showing reworked lithoclasts.
As in siliciclastic systems, these surfaces may display ra-
vinement surfaces. Calcareous marls characterize the early
highstand phase, whereas late highstand deposits are repre-
sented by calcareous marls with intercalating platy lime-
stones (Fig. 4).
The characteristic feature of high-frequency cycles within
outer ramp deposits (Zuhánya Limestone) is a succession of
limestone beds and calcareous marls. A thick limestone unit
at the base of the cycle represents the transgressive phase,
whereas the following nodular limestone-marl alternation is
interpreted as highstand deposits (Fig. 6). Bioturbated mud-
stones occur during the early highstand phase, whereas late
CORRELATION OF TETHYAN AND PERI-TETHYAN EUSTATIC SIGNALS (ANISIAN, MIDDLE TRIASSIC)
highstand deposits are characterized by massive limestone
beds with thin marly layers.
The described sedimentary features clearly express a cy-
clic sedimentation related to relative sea-level changes. The
long-term eustatic signals are also recognized by characteris-
tic palynofacies patterns and stable isotope signatures. In
both settings, the semi-closed Peri-Tethys Basin and the
open Tethys shelf, two striking plankton peaks occur in the
Bithynian and Pelsonian, respectively. Within these strati-
graphic intervals the
C values reach two local maxima
(Fig. 7) and are interpreted as displaying the most open ma-
rine conditions during major transgression phases, which, in
terms of sequence stratigraphy, represent maximum flood-
ing. The coinciding trends in
C values and relative abun-
dance and diversity of acritarchs support this interpretation
(cf. discussion in Feist-Burkhardt et al. 2008). Furthermore,
similar trends are recognized in Anisian series of Poland and
Switzerland (Szulc 2000; Götz et al. 2005; Feist-Burkhardt
et al. 2008). Therefore, organic facies proves to be a power-
ful correlation tool in sequence stratigraphic interpretation
and correlation of different paleogeographical settings.
Fig. 6. High-frequency cycle within the Zuhánya Limestone Forma-
tion of Southern Hungary (Mecsek Mountains), representing the
small-scale facies succession of outer ramp deposits. Abbrevia-
tions: sb – sequence boundary, TSd – transgressive deposits,
mfz – maximum flooding zone, eHSd – early highstand deposits,
lHSd – late highstand deposits.
Fig. 7. Relative abundance of marine plankton and
C-signatures within the Anisian of Southern Hungary (reference sections Bükkösd, Orfü,
Kozár) and Central Germany (reference section Ringgau) and sequence stratigraphic interpretation. Abbreviations: sb – sequence boundary, TSd
– transgressive deposits, mfz – maximum flooding zone, eHSd – early highstand deposits, lHSd – late highstand deposits, Fm – formation.
GÖTZ and TÖRÖK
Short-term fluctuations in sea level are well documented
in small-scale sequences. The cyclic pattern is depending on
the particular ramp position, namely inner, mid or outer
ramp setting. High-frequency cycles are traceable along the
ramp systems studied using distinct erosional and flooding
surfaces (Fig. 5). Similar small-scale successions recorded in
carbonate series of both an open proximal shelf and an epeir-
ic setting enable a high-resolution correlation.
The Anisian carbonate series of the Northern Calcareous
Alps (Fig. 8) represent the Tethyan shelf area composed
mainly of pure calcareous homoclinal ramp deposits of the
Steinalm Formation and strongly bioturbated shelf deposits
of the Virgloria Formation, the latter consisting of carbon-
ates with a low clastic content. In late Anisian (Pelsonian/Il-
lyrian) times, the clastic input gradually diminished and fi-
nally disappeared, resulting in the predominance of the
Steinalm Formation with respect to the Virgloria Formation
(Rüffer 1995; Rüffer & Bechstädt 1998). The Steinalm For-
mation comprises mud-dominated inner to outer ramp de-
posits. In this environment, characterized by unstable muddy
substrate, reef-building organisms were completely absent.
Neither reef-builders nor high-energy shoals were present
during Anisian times. Tempestites were intercalated with
typically mud-supported carbonates, especially during the fi-
nal (Illyrian) stage of the homoclinal ramp.
During Pelsonian times, a major transgression gave rise to
open marine pelagic conditions.
The resulting deposits (Hallstatt Formation) occur
throughout the Alpine shelf, mainly in the southern and east-
ernmost parts of the depositional area of the Northern Cal-
careous Alps (Mandl 1984, 1996; Rüffer 1995).
Within the Anisian series, transgressive surfaces character-
ized by crinoidal wackestones are the most prominent signa-
tures. After a decrease in particles, the late transgressive and
early highstand deposits comprise crinoids, fecal pellets, and
brachiopods. Mid-ramp microbial packstones and inner ramp
stromatolites are characteristic of the late highstand phase.
Due to the low depositional relief, third-order sea-level fluc-
tuations caused extensive lateral shifts in facies, but did not
change the mechanism of sediment production, reworking
and transportation. The lack of erosional surfaces and su-
pratidal facies in most areas of the Northern Calcareous Alps
hinders the detection of sequence boundaries and lowstand
deposits, respectively. However, based on conodont data the
depositional sequences A3 and A4 detected in the western
Northern Calcareous Alps (Rüffer & Zühlke 1995) are corre-
Fig. 8. Correlation of Anisian third-order depositional sequences of the Peri-Tethys Basin and Tethys shelf. Abbreviations: NCA – North-
ern Calcareous Alps, CSA – Central Southern Alps (Dolomites), L.M. – Lower Muschelkalk, Fm – Formation, C. Fm – Contrin For-
mation, sb – sequence boundary, TSd – transgressive deposits, mfz – maximum flooding zone, HSd – highstand deposits. Compiled
after Rüffer (1995), Zühlke (2000), Götz et al. (2003, 2005), Feist-Burkhardt et al. (2008) and this study.
CORRELATION OF TETHYAN AND PERI-TETHYAN EUSTATIC SIGNALS (ANISIAN, MIDDLE TRIASSIC)
latable with the two third-order depositional sequences of the
Lower Muschelkalk of the Peri-Tethyan realm.
In the Western Carpathians, the Anisian Geldek Member
of the Vysoká Formation documents the evolution of a mud-
dominated homoclinal ramp system with most open marine
conditions during the Pelsonian (Michalík 1992). Conodonts
serve as age-diagnostic index fossils and will enable a pre-
cise correlation for sequence stratigraphic interpretation, not
available for this depositional series yet.
In the Southern Alps, marked facies variations in time and
space, as well as differential subsidence/uplift characterize
the Anisian basin development in this part of the NW Tethyan
shelf area (Zühlke 2000). As a result of these variations, the
basin fill includes a large number of lithostratigraphic units.
In the eastern Southern Alps and parts of the central South-
ern Alps, carbonate-evaporite ramps of the Lower Sarl and
Lusnizza Formations (Fig. 8) conformably overlie the Early
Triassic Werfen Formation. Further to the W, the Lower Sarl
Formation was erosionally truncated or did not develop at
all. The western and southern Dolomites (central Southern
Alps, CSA) were the site of several large structural highs
with a long-term depositional gap, which lasted until the ear-
ly Pelsonian or the early Illyrian. In the eastern and central
Southern Alps, carbonate ramps of the Lower Sarl and Olang
Formations persisted until the late Bithynian and earliest
Pelsonian, respectively. Around the Bithynian/Pelsonian
boundary, the basin architecture in the central Southern Alps
changed completely. Partitioning of the basin into structural
highs/lows became distinct and the depocentres moved to
the W. In the late Pelsonian, homoclinal and distally steep-
ened carbonate ramps of the Upper Sarl Formation devel-
oped. Coeval structural lows feature dysaerobic to oxic basi-
nal deposition with interbedded turbidites (Dont Formation)
shed from adjacent structural highs.
In the central Southern Alps, late Pelsonian carbonate ramps
of the Upper Sarl Formation are bounded by an erosional un-
conformity or a disconformity. In the Illyrian characteristic fa-
cies transitions between distally steepened carbonate ramps
(Contrin Formation) and narrow marine inlets (Moena Forma-
tion) or regional basins (Ambata Formation) are recognized.
The two third-order depositional sequences An3 and An4 of
Bithynian-early Illyrian age described from the central South-
ern Alps (Rüffer & Zühlke 1995) correspond to the Lower
Muschelkalk sequences of the Peri-Tethys Basin.
The Anisian depositional series from Southern Hungary
and Central Germany represent shallow marine carbonates of
two different paleogeographical settings: the proximal shelf
of the Tethys Ocean and its northern Peri-Tethyan realm.
Both settings are mud-dominated with reworked material
due to periodical storm activity. Storms were more severe in
the open shelf position than in the semi-closed setting, which
is documented in the different development and quantity of
Sea-level changes are clearly recorded. Characteristic fa-
cies successions as well as palynofacies and stable isotope
signatures document third-order cyclicity, and small-scale
sequences can be interpreted as having formed through high-
frequency sea-level changes in tune with orbital cycles. The
detected cyclic patterns are very similar in both settings and
therefore enable a high-resolution long-distance correlation
of large-scale sequences.
The sedimentary organic matter and isotopic signals of the
Anisian successions of the gate ways connecting the semi-
closed Germanic Basin and the open Tethys shelf were stud-
ied (Götz et al. 2005; Feist-Burkhardt et al. 2007) and they
match the signals from the S Hungarian depositional series.
The most open marine facies occurs in the Pelsonian, reflect-
ing a major flooding phase in the NW Tethyan shelf domain
(major flooding surface 237.05 Ma of Haq et al. 1987) and
its northern peripheral basin. Two third-order depositional
sequences are detected in the two different paleogeographi-
cal settings studied (Fig. 8) and are traceable along the entire
NW Tethyan realm (Rüffer & Zühlke 1995; Hardenbol et al.
1998; Szulc 2000; Götz et al. 2003). The detected eustatic
signals were also described from the Northern Calcareous
Alps (Rüffer 1995) and the Southern Alps (Zühlke 2000) and
are therefore interpreted as over-regional signatures of the
northern Tethys margins and adjacent basins. However, re-
gional tectonically events cannot be excluded for the Middle
Triassic and the interpretation of solely climatically driven
fluctuation of sea level resulting in characteristic cyclic pat-
terns within the sedimentary record during the Anisian still
has to be done carefully. In many cases there are also tecton-
ic changes controlling accommodation, and/or sea-floor
spreading influencing long-term sea-level changes. There-
fore, further studies on sedimentary cycle patterns of differ-
ent scales and in different settings are needed.
Acknowledgments: This study was supported by the Deu-
tsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (Project GO 761/1-1)
and the Hungarian Science Foundation (Project OTKA
T 037652). We acknowledge the very thorough and con-
structive reviews of János Haas (Budapest), Jozef Michalík
(Bratislava) and André Strasser (Fribourg) which greatly im-
proved the manuscript.
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