International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 8, pp 2627–2651 | Cite as

Three-dimensional geological modeling supports a revised Burdigalian chronostratigraphy in the North Alpine Foreland Basin

  • Felix Hofmayer
  • Uwe Kirscher
  • Karin Sant
  • Wout Krijgsman
  • Thomas Fritzer
  • Dietmar Jung
  • Vinzenz Weissbrodt
  • Bettina ReichenbacherEmail author
Original Paper


Precise age data are a basic prerequisite for the correlation of a sedimentary succession with the Global Time Scale, which in turn allows one to place its biotic and other data in a global context. In the North Alpine Foreland Basin (NAFB), a patchy distribution of outcrops and uncertainties in the correlation of strata have led to conflicting age models, in particular for deposits of lower Miocene (Burdigalian) age. Here, we present a new three-dimensional geological model of the SE German sector of the NAFB, covering an area of 13,200 km2, which helps to resolve the discrepancies. The dataset comprises lithostratigraphic information from 150 boreholes, supplemented by magnetostratigraphic data from six outcrops. Computer-based 3D modeling was conducted with the open source software QGIS for a 500-m-thick succession comprising units of the Upper Marine Molasse, the brackish Oncophora Fm and the Upper Freshwater Molasse. The results provide new insights pertaining to (1) the isochrony of strata, (2) subsidence, and (3) synsedimentary tectonics. The new data permit us to reliably place the outcrops within the regional lithostratigraphic scheme, thus enabling a new correlation of their magnetic polarities with the Global Time Scale. On this basis, we propose a revised age model for the middle and upper Burdigalian strata in the eastern part of the NAFB, which is supported by previously reported 87Sr/86Sr age data. The model indicates that the succession is substantially—up to 0.8 Ma—younger than earlier publications have suggested. Furthermore, it implies that the two synsedimentary tectonic events discerned may both be related to the large-scale tectonic movements that affected the NAFB during the late Burdigalian.


S-German Molasse Basin Ottnangian–Karpatian 3D model Stratigraphy Tectonics Sr-isotope ages 



For providing access to drilling sites and well samples, we are grateful to the engineering companies Müller and Hereth GmbH (Simbach, Germany), with special thanks to Michael Schmid and Dr. Marcus Scholz, and to Piewak and Partner GmbH (Füssing, Germany), with special thanks to Manfred Piewak. We thank Dr. Martina Pippèrr (LMU Munich, Germany), Dr. Alexander Rocholl (GFZ Potsdam, Germany) and Prof. Dr. Valerian Bachtadse (LMU Munich) for precious comments and discussion. For discussions on 3D modeling and stratigraphic issues, we thank Dr. Robert Pamer (LfU, Augsburg, Germany), Dr. Kai Zosseder (TU Munich, Germany), Ulrich Haas and Martin Herz (both LfU, Hof, Germany). We are grateful to Johannes Großmann (LfU, Augsburg, Germany) for providing new results on the Wolfach Fault. We are indebted to Marija Ivanovic (LfU, Augsburg, Germany) for her invaluable assistance with sample processing and microfossil picking of the Füssing -TH 1 samples. For help in identifying fossils, we thank Inda Brinkmann (Lund University, Sweden), Dr. Werner Schwarzhans (Hamburg, Germany) and Dr. Mathias Harzhauser (Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria). The manuscript benefited greatly from the constructive comments of the reviewers Prof. Dr. P. Grunert (Univ. Köln, Germany) and Dr. Ch. Rupp (GBA Wien, Austria), and from the critical reading of Dr. P. Hardy (Düsseldorf, Germany). Finally, we acknowledge the students and lecturers involved in the Master’s program in Geobiology and Paleobiology at LMU, who provided a stimulating environment for this work.

Supplementary material

531_2019_1780_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 24 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth- and Environmental Sciences, Palaeontology and GeobiologyLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany
  2. 2.Geological Survey of AustriaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesEberhard Karls University TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Paleomagnetic Laboratory “Fort Hoofddijk”, Department of Earth SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt, Dienststelle AugsburgAugsburgGermany
  6. 6.Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt, Dienststelle HofHof/SaaleGermany
  7. 7.Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, GeophysicsLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany

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