Otolith-based age determination of mid-Burdigalian marine sediments in the North Alpine Foreland Basin


Authors: Teschner C, Reichenbacher B

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 92, issue 2; pages: 143 - 152; Received 1 January 2017; Accepted in revised form 5 May 2017; Online 27 June 2017

Keywords: Sr isotopes, fossil otoliths, biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, Central Paratethys, Upper Marine Molasse,

full text (PDF, 1.48 MB)

Export to RIS



Precise age constraints are rare for the Oligocene to Miocene sediments in the North Alpine Foreland Basin, also referred to as Molasse Basin. This is mainly due to the lack of index fossils, absence of continuous outcrops and scarcity of radiometrically datable rocks. In this study, we applied the Sr isotope dating technique to fossil teleost fish otoliths to determine absolute ages for Lower Miocene (mid-Burdigalian, lower Ottnangian) marine sediments. The fossil otoliths from the marine genera Diaphus and Coelorinchus used in our analysis were recovered from the Neuhofen Beds in the SE German Molasse Basin. For the first time, leaching experiments were conducted on different otolith fractions to extract the ambient 87Sr/86Sr seawater signal. Based on the latest version of the evolution curve for the 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the global ocean, our new data suggest an age of 17.1 ± 0.3 Ma, which is at least 0.6 m.y. younger than hitherto assumed for the Neuhofen Beds based on biostratigraphy and lithostratigraphic correlations. We suggest that strong riverine inputs could account for this shift in the Sr isotope signal to younger ages.


ABDUL AZIZ, H., BÖHME, M., ROCHOLL, A., PRIETO, J., WIJBRANS, J.R., BACHTADSE, V. & ULBIG, A. 2010. Integrated stratigraphy and 40Ar/39Ar chronology of the early to middle Miocene Upper Freshwater Molasse in western Bavaria (Germany). International Journal of Earth Sciences 99, 1859-1886.View article

ALLEN, P.A., MANGE-RAJETZKY, M. & MATTER, A. 1985. Dynamic palaeogeography of the open Burdigalian seaway, Swiss Molasse Basin. Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae 78, 351-381.

BAYON, G., GERMAN, C.R., BOELLA, R.M., MILTON, J.A., TAYLOR, R.N. & NESBITT, R.W. 2002. An improved method for extracting marine sediment fractions and its application to Sr and Nd isotopic analysis. Chemical Geology 187, 179-199.View article

BRYANT, J.D., JONES, D.S. & MUELLER, P.A. 1995. Influence of Freshwater Flux on 87Sr/86Sr Chronostratigraphy in Marginal Marine Environments and Dating of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Faunas. Journal of Paleontology 69, 1-6.View article

BRZOBOHATÝ, R., KALVODA, J., FRÝDA, J. & ERBAN, V. 2016. Strontium isotope record of the Hygophum hygomii otoliths from the European middle Miocene. Geobios 49(5), 349-354.View article

CICHA, I., SENEŠ, J. & TEJKAL, J. 1967. M3 (Karpatien). Die Karpatische Serie und ihr Stratotypus. Chronostratigraphie und Neostratotypen, Miozän der Zentralen Paratethys, 1, 1-312.

COHEN, D.M., INADA, T., IWAMOTO, T. & SCIALABBA, N. 1990. Gadiform fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cods, hakes, grenadiers and other gadiform fishes known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125(10), 442.

DEPAOLO, D.J. 1986. Detailed record of the Neogene Sr isotopic evolution of seawater from DSDP Site 590B. Geology 14, 103-106.View article

DOPPLER, G., HEISSIG, K. & REICHENBACHER, B. 2005. Zur Gliederung des Tertiärs im süddeutschen Molassebecken. Newsletters on Stratigraphy 41, 359-375.View article

FRIELING, D., PIPPERR, M., SCHNEIDER, S. & REICHENBACHER, B. 2009. Sedimentology and stratigraphy at the rocky coast of the upper Burdigalian Molasse Sea: a case study from Gurlan near Passau (SE Germany). Facies 55, 47-62.View article

GRADSTEIN, F.M., OGG, J.G., SCHMITZ, M. & OGG, G.M. (eds) The Geologic Time Scale 2012. 1176 pp. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

GRUNERT, P., AUER, G., HARZHAUSER, M. & PILLER, W.E. 2015. Stratigraphic constraints for the upper Oligocene to lower Miocene Puchkirchen Group (North Alpine Foreland Basin, Central Paratethys). Newsletters on Stratigraphy 48(1), 111-133.View article

GRUNERT, P., HINSCH, R., SACHSENHOFER, R.F., BECHTEL, A., ĆORIĆ, S., HARZHAUSER, M., PILLER, W.E. & SPERL, H. 2013. Early Burdigalian infill of the Puchkirchen trough (North Alpine Foreland Basin, Central Paratethys): facies development and sequence stratigraphy. Marine and Petroleum Geology 39,164-186.View article

HAGN, H., MALZ, H., MARTINI, E., WEISS, W. & WITT, W. 1981. Miozäne Vorland-Molasse Niederbayerns und Kreide von Regensburg. Exkursion G. Geologica Bavarica 82, 263-286.

HOLMDEN, C., CREASER, R.A. & MUEHLENBACHS, K. 1997. Paleosalinities in ancient brackish water systems determined by 87Sr/86Sr ratios in carbonate fossils: A case study from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 61, 2105-2118.View article

HORWITZ, E.P., CHIARIZIA, R. & DIETZ, M.L. 1992. A novel strontium-selective extraction chromatographic resin. Solvent Extraction Ion Exchange 10, 313-336. View article

HOWARTH, R.J. & MCARTHUR, J.M. 2003. SIS LOOK-UP TABLE, Version 4: 08/03. - Received by personal communication.

HULLEY, P.A. 1986. Myctophidae, 282-321. In SMITH, M.M. & HEEMSTRA, P.C. (eds) Smiths’ sea fishes. Springer Verlag, Berlin.

INGRAM, B.L. & SLOAN, D. 1992. Strontium isotopic composition of estuarine sediments as paleosalinity-paleoclimate indicator. Science 255, 68-72.View article

JANZ, H.V. & VENNEMANN, T.W. 2005. Isotopic composition (O, C, Sr, and Nd) and trace element ratios (Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca) of Miocene marine and brackish ostracods from North Alpine Foreland deposits (Germany and Austria) as indicators for palaeoclimate. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 225, 216-247.View article

JONES, C.E., JENKYNS, H.C. & HESSELBO, S.P. 1994. Strontium isotopes in Early Jurassic seawater. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 58, 1285-1301.View article

KENNEDY, B.P., BLUM, J.D., FOLT, C.L. & NISLOW, K.H. 2000. Using natural strontium isotopic signatures as fish markers: methodology and application. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57, 2280-2292.View article

KENNEDY, B.P., KLAUE, A., BLUM, J.D., FOLT, C.L. & NISLOW, K.H. 2002. Reconstructing the lives of fish using Sr isotopes in otoliths. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 59, 925-929.View article

KOCSIS, L., VENNEMANN, T.W., HEGNER, E., FONTIGNIE, D. & TÜTKEN, T. 2009. Constraints on Miocene oceanography and climate in the Western and Central Paratethys: O-, Sr-, and Nd-isotope compositions of marine fish and mammal remains. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 271, 117-129.View article

KUHLEMANN, J. & KEMPF, O. 2002. Post-Eocene evolution of the North Alpine Foreland Basin and its response to Alpine tectonics. Sedimentary Geology 152, 45-78.View article

LEMCKE, K. 1985. Flußfracht von Ur-Main und Ur-Naab in der Schweiz und im deutschen Molassebecken. Bulletin der Vereinigung Schweizerischer Petroleum-Geologen und -Ingenieure, 51, 13-21.

LEMCKE, K. 1988. Geologie von Bayern. - I. Teil: Das bayerische Alpenvorland vor der Eiszeit - Erdgeschichte, Bau, Bodenschätze. 175 pp. E. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

LIEW, T.C. & HOFMANN, A.W. 1988. Precambrian crustal components, plutonic associations, plates environments of the Hercynian Fold Belt of central Europe: indications from a Nd and Sr isotopic study. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 98, 129-138.View article

MCARTHUR, J.M., HOWARTH, R.J. & SHIELDS, G.A. 2012. Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy, 127-144. In GRADSTEIN, F.M., OGG, J.G., SCHMITZ, M. & OGG, G.M. (eds) The Geologic Time Scale 2012. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

PALMER, M.R. & EDMOND, J.M. 1989. The strontium isotope budget of the modern ocean. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 92, 11-26.View article

PAPP, A., RÖGL, F. & SENEŠ, J. (eds) 1973. Miozän M2 Ottnangien. Die Innviertler, Salgotatjaner, Bantapusztaer Schichtengruppe und die Rzehakia Formation, Chronostratigraphie und Neostratotypen, Miozän der zentralen Paratethys. 841 pp. Slovenská Akadémia Vied, Bratislava.

PAWELLEK, F., FRAUENSTEIN, F. & VEIZER, J. 2001. Hydrochemistry and isotope geochemistry of the Danube River. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 66, 3839-3854.View article

PILLER, W.E., HARZHAUSER, M., & MANDIC, O. 2007. Miocene Central Paratethys stratigraphy - current status and future directions. Stratigraphy 4, 151-168.

PIPPERR, M. 2011. Characterisation of Ottnangian palaeoenvironments in the North Alpine Foreland Basin using benthic foraminifera - a review on the Upper Marine Molasse of Southern Germany. Marine Micropaleontology 79, 80-99.View article

PIPPERR, M. & REICHENBACHER, B. 2009 Biostratigraphy and paleoecology of benthic foraminifera from the Eggenburgian “Ortenburger Meeressande” of southeastern Germany (Early Miocene, Paratethys). Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 254, 41-61.View article

PIPPERR, M. & REICHENBACHER, B. 2010. Foraminifera from the borehole Altdorf (SE Germany): Proxies for Ottnangian (early Miocene) palaeoenvironments of the Central Paratethys. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 289, 62-80.View article

PIPPERR, M. & REICHENBACHER, B. 2017. Late Early Miocene palaeoenvironmental changes in the North Alpine Foreland Basin. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 468, 485-502.View article

PIPPERR, M., REICHENBACHER, B., KIRSCHER, U., SANT, K, HANEBECK, H. (in press). The middle Burdigalian in the North Alpine Foreland Basin (Bavaria, SE Germany) - A lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic re-evaluation. Newsletter Stratigraphy.

PIPPERR, M., REICHENBACHER, B., WITT, W. & ROCHOLL, A. 2007. The Middle and Upper Ottnangian of the Simssee area (SE Germany): micropalaeontology, biostratigraphy and chronostratigraphy. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 245, 353-378.View article

POPPER, A.N. 1976. Ultrastructure of the auditory regions in the inner ear of the lake whitefish. Science 192, 1020-1023.View article

POPPER, A.N., RAMCHARITAR, J. & CAMPANA, S.E. 2005. Why otoliths? Insights from inner ear physiology and fisheries biology. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 497-504.View article

QING, H., BARNES, C.R., BUHL, D. & VEIZER, J. 1998. The strontium isotopic composition of Ordovician and Silurian brachiopods and conodonts: relationships to geological events and implications for coeval seawater, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 62, 1721-1733.View article

REICHENBACHER, B., KRIJGSMAN, W., LATASTER, Y., PIPPERR, M., VAN BAAK, C.G.G., CHANG, L., KÄLIN, D., JOST, J., DOPPLER, G., JUNG, D., PRIETO, J., ABDUL AZIZ, H., BÖHME, M., GARNISH, J., KIRSCHER, U. & BACHTADSE, V. 2013. A new magnetostratigraphic framework for the Lower Miocene (Burdigalian/Ottnangian, Karpatian) in the North Alpine Foreland Basin. Swiss Journal of Geoscience 106, 309-334.View article

REINHARDT, E.G., FITTON, R.J. & SCHWARCZ, H.P. 2003. Isotopic (Sr, O, C) indicators of salinity and taphonomy in marginal marine environments. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 33, 262-272.View article

ROETZEL, R., DE LEEUW, A., MANDIC, O., MARTON, E., NEHYBA, S., KUIPER, K., SCHOLGER, R. & WIMMER-FREY, I. 2014. Lower Miocene (upper Burdigalian, Karpatian) volcanic ash-fall at the south-eastern margin of the Bohemian Massif in Austria - New evidence from 40Ar/39Ar-dating, palaeomagnetic, geochemical and mineralogical investigations. Austrian Journal of Earth Sciences 107, 2-22.

SANT, K., KIRSCHER, U., REICHENBACHER, B., PIPPERR, M., JUNG, D., DOPPLER, G. & KRIJGSMAN, W. 2017. Late Burdigalian sea retreat from the North Alpine Foreland Basin: new magnetostratigraphic age constraints. Global and Planetary Change 152, 38-50.View article

STEIGER, R.H. & JÄGER, E. 1977. Subcommission on geochronology: convention on the use of decay constants in geo- and cosmochronology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 36, 359-362.View article

STEININGER, F., RÖGL, F. & MARTINI, E. 1976. Current Oligocene/Miocene biostratigraphic concept of the Central Paratethys (Middle Europe). Newsletters on Stratigraphy 4, 174-202.View article

VENNEMANN, T.W. & HEGNER, E. 1998. Oxygen, strontium and neodymium isotope composition of shark teeth as a proxy for the palaeoceanography and palaeoclimatology of the Miocene northern Alpine Paratethys. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 142, 107-121.View article

VENNEMANN, T.W., HEGNER, E., CLIFF, G. & BENZ, G.W. 2001. Isotopic composition of recent shark teeth as a proxy for environmental conditions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 65, 1583-1599.View article

WALTHER, B.D. & THORROLD, S.R. 2006. Water, not food, contributes the majority of strontium and barium deposited in the otoliths of a marine fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 311, 125-130.View article

WENGER, W.F. 1987. Die Foraminiferen des Miozäns der bayerischen Molasse und ihre stratigraphische sowie paläogeographische Auswertung. Zitteliana 16, 173-340.

WITT, W. 1967. Ostracoden der bayerischen Molasse (unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Cytherinae, Leptocytherinae, Trachyleberidinae, Hemicytherinae und Cytherettinae). Geologica Bavarica 57, 1-120