Paleogeography of the Upper Rhine Graben (URG) and the Swiss Molasse Basin (SMB) from Eocene to Pliocene

Berger, Jean-Pierre ; Reichenbacher, Bettina ; Becker, Damien ; Grimm, Matthias ; Grimm, Kirsten ; Picot, Laurent ; Storni, Andrea ; Pirkenseer, Claudius ; Derer, Christian ; Schaefer, Andreas

In: International Journal of Earth Sciences, 2005, vol. 94, no. 4, p. 697-710

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    Twenty paleogeographic maps are presented for Middle Eocene (Lutetian) to Late Pliocene times according to the stratigraphical data given in the companion paper by Berger et al. this volume. Following a first lacustrine-continental sedimentation during the Middle Eocene, two and locally three Rupelian transgressive events were identified with the first corresponding with the Early Rupelian Middle Pechelbronn beds and the second and third with the Late Rupelian ≪ Serie Grise ≫ (Fischschiefer and equivalents). During the Early Rupelian (Middle Pechelbronn beds), a connection between North Sea and URG is clearly demonstrated, but a general connection between North Sea, URG and Paratethys, via the Alpine sea, is proposed, but not proved, during the late Rupelian. Whereas in the southern URG, a major hiatus spans Early Aquitanian to Pliocene times, Early and Middle Miocene marine, brackish and freshwater facies occur in the northern URG and in the Molasse Basin (OMM, OSM); however, no marine connections between these basins could be demonstrated during this time. After the deposition of the molasse series, a very complex drainage pattern developed during the Late Miocene and Pliocene, with a clear connection to the Bresse Graben during the Piacenzian (Sundgau gravels). During the Late Miocene, Pliocene and Quaternary sedimentation persisted in the northern URG with hardly any interruptions. The present drainage pattern of the Rhine river (from Alpine area to the lower Rhine Embayment) was not established before the Early Pleistocene