Facies, palaeogeography and stratigraphy of the lower Miocene Traisen Formation and Wildendürnbach Formation (former “Oncophora Beds”) in the Molasse Zone of Lower Austria

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A detailed study of OMV wells throughout the Lower Austrian Molasse Basin demonstrates the existence of a distinct and synchronous upper Ottnangian (lower Miocene) stratigraphic signal, the Calcite Minimum Interval (CMI). It corresponds to the depositional phase of the Rzehakia Lake System. This signal is interpreted to be of chronostratigraphic importance as an expression of palaeoclimate and related sea-level change. It is represented by the brackish Traisen Formation, which crops out south of the Danube. The Traisen Formation correlates with sands and shales in OMV wells to the north, termed Wildendürnbach Formation. However, the CMI underlies a marine unit, the so-called “Oncophora Beds” (also known as Rzehakia Beds) as reported from OMV wells in the north at the border to the Czech Republic. We demonstrate that these former “Oncophora Beds” are younger, i.e. of Karpatian age, than originally assumed. Therefore, these deposits cannot be correlated to the late Ottnangian Traisen Formation. This may solve the problem of contradicting interpretations concerning the depositional environment of both units, which were correlated to each other in the past. As no Rzehakia bivalves (formerly Oncophora) are described from these former “Oncophora Beds”, we recommend to avoid using the term for these turbiditic sands. Instead, we attribute these deposits to the fully marine Karpatian Laa Formation. These new findings, which are in accordance with published data from the Czech Republic, indicate two (in time and space) independent sedimentary systems and sand deposition centres for the Traisen Formation and the massive sands attributed as “Oncophora Beds” around Wildendürnbach. A late Ottnangian system in the south delivered the material of the Traisen Formation from the Alps and a Karpatian system delivered the clastic material of the massive sands of the Laa Formation from the east.

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