High resolution stratigraphy of the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary interval in the Gresten Klippenbelt (Austria)
The key objective of investigation of hemipelagic sediments from the Gresten Klippenbelt (Blassenstein Formation, Ultrahelvetic paleogeographic realm) was to shed light on environmental changes around the Jurassic-Cretaceous (J/K) boundary on the northern margin of the Penninic Ocean. This boundary is well exposed in a newly discovered site at Nutzhof. Around the critical interval including the boundary, this new outcrop bears a rich microplanktonic assemblage characterized by typical J/K (Tithonian/Berriasian) boundary faunas. The Nutzhof section is located in the Gresten Klippenbelt (Lower Austria) tectonically wedged into the deep-water sediments of the Rhenodanubian Flysch Zone. In Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous time the Penninic Ocean was a side tract of the proto-North Atlantic Oceanic System, intercalated between the European and the Austroalpine plates. Its opening started during the Early Jurassic, induced by sea floor spreading, followed by Jurassic-Early Cretaceous deepening of the depositional area of the Gresten Klippenbelt. These tectonically induced paleogeographic changes are mirrored in the lithology and microfauna that record a deepening of the depositional environment from Tithonian to Berriasian sediments of the Blassenstein Formation at Nutzhof. The main lithological change is observed in the Upper Tithonian Crassicollaria Zone, in Chron M20N, whereas the J/K boundary can be precisely fixed at the Crassicollaria-Calpionella boundary, within Chron M19n.2n. The lithological turnover of the deposition from more siliciclastic pelagic marl-limestone cycles into deep-water pelagic limestones is correlated with the deepening of the southern edge of the European continent at this time. Within the Gresten Klippenbelt Unit, this transition is reflected by the lithostratigraphic boundary between siliciclastic-bearing marl-limestone sedimentation in the uppermost Jurassic and lowermost Cretaceous limestone formation, both within the Blassenstein Formation. The cephalopod fauna (ammonites, belemnites, aptychi) and crinoids from the Blassenstein Formation, correlated with calcareous microfossil and nannofossil data combined with isotope and paleomagnetic data, indicate the Tithonian to middle Berriasian (Hybonoticeras hybonotum Zone up to the Subthurmannia occitanica Zone; M17r-M21r). The succession of the Nutzhof section thus represents deposition of a duration of approximately 7 Myr (ca. 150-143 Ma). The deposition of the limestone, marly limestone and marls in this interval occurred during tectonically unstable conditions reflected by common allodapic material. Along with the integrated biostratigraphic, geochemical and isotopic analysis, the susceptibility and gamma-ray measurements were powerful stratigraphic tools and important for the interpretation of the paleogeographic setting. Two reverse magneto-subzones, Kysuca and Brodno, were detected within magnetozones M20n and M19n, respectively.