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System Series Stage Age (Ma) European lithostratigraphy
Jurassic Lower Hettangian younger Lias
Triassic Upper Rhaetian 199.6–203.6
Keuper
Norian 203.6–216.5
Carnian 216.5–228.7
Middle Ladinian 228.7–237.0
Muschelkalk
Anisian 237.0–245.9
Bunter or Buntsandstein
Lower Olenekian 245.9–249.5
Induan 249.5–251.0
Permian Lopingian Changhsingian older
Zechstein
Major lithostratigraphic units of northwest Europe with the
ICS's geologic timescale of the Triassic.[1]

The Keuper is a lithostratigraphic unit (a sequence of rock strata) in the subsurface of large parts of west and central Europe. The Keuper consists of dolostone, shales or claystones and evaporites that were deposited during the Middle and Late Triassic epochs (about 30 million years ago). The Keuper lies on top of the Muschelkalk and under the predominantly Lower Jurassic Lias or other Early Jurassic strata.

The Keuper forms, together with the Muschelkalk and the Buntsandstein the Germanic Trias Group, a characteristic sequence of rock strata that gave the Triassic its name.

Contents

Exposure

The Upper Triassic is well exposed in Swabia, Franconia, Alsace and Lorraine and Luxembourg; it extends from Basel on the east side of the Rhine into Hanover, and through England into Scotland and north-east Ireland; it appears flanking the central plateau of France and in the Pyrenees and Sardinia.

In south Sweden the lower portion contains coalbearing strata, as in the Himalayas, Japan, Tibet, Burma, eastern Siberia and in Spitsbergen. The upper portion of the Karoo Supergroup of South Africa and part of the Otapiri stage of New Zealand are probably of Rhaetian age.

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Germany

In Germany and adjacent parts of western and central Europe the Keuper is divided into three groups;

  • Upper Keuper
The upper part of this division is often a grey dolomite known as the Grenz dolomite; the impure coal beds Lettenko/ileare aggregated towards the base. The upper Keuper, Rhaetic or Avicula contorta zone in Germany is mainly sandy with dark grey shales and marls; it is seldom more than 25 metres thick. The sandstones are used for building purposes at Bayreuth, Culmbach and Bamberg. In Swabia and the Wesergebirge are several bone-beds, thicker than those in the middle Keuper, which contain a rich assemblage of fossil remains of fish, reptiles and the mammalian teeth of Microlestes antiquus and Triglyptzas Fraasi. The name "Rhaetic" is derived from the Rhaetic Alps where the beds are well developed; they occur also in central France, the Pyrenees and England. In South Tirol and the Judic. arian Mountains the Rhaetic is represented by the Kossenei beds. In the Alpine region the presence of coral beds gives rise to the so-called Lithodendron Kalk.
  • Hauptkeuper or Gipskeuper, the middle
The middle division is thicker than either of the others (at Göttingen, 450 metres); it consists of a marly series below, grey, red and green marls, with gypsum and dolomite—this is the gypskeuper in its restricted sense. The higher part of the series is sandy, hence called the Steinmergel; it is comparatively free from gypsum. To this division belong the Myophoria beds (M. Raibliana) with galena in places; the Estheria beds (E. laxilesta); the Schelfsandstein, used as a building-stone; the Lehrherg and Berg-gyps beds; Semionotus beds (S. Bergen) with building-stone of Coburg; and the Burgand Stubensandstein.
  • Kohlenkeuper or Lettenkohle, the lower
The lower division consists mainly of grey clays and schieferletten with white, grey and brightly colored sandstone and dolomitic limestone.

The salt, which is associated with gypsum, is exploited in south Germany at Dreuze, Pettoncourt, as well as in Vie in the Lorraine region of France. A 4-metre coal is found on this horizon in the Erzgebirge on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, and another, 2 metres thick, has been mined in Upper Silesia, now in Poland.

Great Britain

In Great Britain the Keuper contains the following subdivisions:

  • Rhaetic or Penarth
Grey, red and green marls, black shales, and so-called white has (10-150 ft.). Upper Keuper marl, red and grey marls and shales with rock salt (800-3000 ft.). As in Germany, there are one or more bone beds in the English Rhaetic with a similar assemblage of fossils.
  • Lower Keuper
Sandstone, marls and thin sandstones at the top, red and white sandstones (including the so-called waterstones) below, with breccias and conglomerates at the base (150-250 ft.).
  • Basal conglomerate
A shore or scree breccia derived from local materials; it is well developed in the Mendip district. The rocksalt beds vary from 1 in. to 100 ft. in thickness; they are extensively worked (mined and pumped) in Cheshire, Middlesbrough and Antrim.

The Keuper covers a large area in the Midlands and around the flanks of the Pennine range; it reaches southward to the Devonshire coast, eastward into Yorkshire and northwestward into north Ireland and south Scotland. In the white has the upper hard limestone is known as the sun bed or Jew stone; at the base is the Cotham or landscape marble.

Fossils

The Keuper is not rich in fossils; the principal plants are cypresslike conifers (Walchia, Voltzia) and a few calamites with such forms as Equisetum arenaceum and Pterophyllum jaegeri, Avicula contorta, Protocardium rhaeticum, Terebratula gregaria, Myophoria costata, M. goldfassi and Lingula tenuessima, Anoplophoria lettica may be mentioned among the invertebrates. Fishes include Ceratodus, Hybodus and Lepidotus.

Labyrinthodonts represented by the footprints of Cheirotherium and the bones of Labyrinthodon, Mastodonsaurus and Capitosaurus. Among the reptiles are Hyperodapedon, Palaeosaurus, Zanclodon, Nothosaurus and Belodon. The first fossil mammals also make their appearance at this time.

References

  1. ^ Gradstein et al. (2004)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KEUPER, in geology the third or uppermost subdivision of the Triassic system. The name is a local miners' term of German origin; it corresponds to the French marnes irisees. The formation is well exposed in Swabia, Franconia, Alsace and Lorraine and Luxemburg; it extends from Basel on the east side of the Rhine into Hanover, and northwards it spreads into Sweden and through England into Scotland and north-east Ireland; it appears flanking the central plateau of France and in the Pyrenees and Sardinia. In the German region it is usual to divide the Keuper into three groups, the Rhaetic or upper Keuper, the middle, Hauptkeuper or gypskeuper, and the lower, Kohlenkeuper or Lettenkohle. In Germany the lower division consists mainly of grey clays and schieferletten with white, grey and brightly coloured sandstone and dolomitic limestone. The upper part of this division is often a grey dolomite known as the Grenz dolomite; the impure coal beds - Lettenkohle - are aggregated towards the base. The middle division is thicker than either of the others (at Gottingen, 450 metres); it consists of a marly series below, grey, red and green marls with gypsum and dolomite - this is the gypskeuper in its restricted sense. The higher part of the series is sandy, hence called the Steinmergel; it is comparatively free from gypsum. To this division belong the Myophoria beds (M. Raibliana) with galena in places; the Estheria beds (E. laxitesta); the Schelfsandstein, used as a building-stone; the Lehrberg and Berg-gyps beds; Semionotus beds (S. Bergeri) with building-stone of Coburg; and the Burgand Stubensandstein. The salt,which is associated with gypsum, is exploited in south Germany at Dreuze, Pettoncourt, Vie in Lorraine and Wimpfen on the Neckar. A 2-metre coal is found on this horizon in the Erzgebirge, and another, 2 metres thick, has been mined in Upper Silesia. The upper Keuper, Rhaetic or Avicula contorta zone in Germany is mainly sandy with dark grey shales and marls; it is seldom more than 25 metres thick. The sandstones are used for building purposes at Bayreuth, Culmbach and Bamberg. In Swabia and the Wesergebirge are several "bone-beds," thicker than those in the middle Keuper, which contain a rich assemblage of fossil remains of fish, reptiles and the mammalian teeth of Microlestes antiquus and Triglyptus Fraasi. The name Rhaetic is derived from the Rhaetic Alps where the beds are well developed; they occur also in central France, the Pyrenees and England. In S.Tirol and the Judicarian Mountains the Rhaetic is represented by the Kossener beds. In the Alpine region the presence of coral beds gives rise to the so-called "Lithodendron Kalk." In Great Britain the Keuper contains the following subdivisions: Rhaetic or Penarth beds, grey, red and green marls, black shales and so-called "white lias" (ro-150 ft.). Upper Keuper marl, red and grey marls and shales with gypsum and 1 Miller's Artillery Regimental History; see also H. G. Farmer, op. cit., p. 22; illustration 1702, p. 26.

2 Memoirs of the Royal Artillery. rock salt (800-3000 ft.). Lower Keuper sandstone, marls and thin sandstones at the top, red and white sandstones (including the so-called "waterstones") below, with breccias and conglomerates at the base (150-250 ft.). The basal or "dolomitic conglomerate" is a shore or scree breccia derived from local materials; it is well developed in the Mendip district. The rocksalt beds vary from 1 in. to 100 ft. in thickness; they are extensively worked (mined and pumped) in Cheshire, Middlesbrough and Antrim. The Keuper covers a large area in the midlands and around the flanks of the Pennine range; it reaches southward to the Devonshire coast, eastward into Yorkshire and northwestward into north Ireland and south Scotland. As in Germany, there are one or more "bone beds" in the English Rhaetic with a similar assemblage of fossils. In the "white has" the upper hard limestone is known as the "sun bed" or "Jew stone"; at the base is the Cotham or landscape marble.

Representatives of the Rhaetic are found in south Sweden, where the lower portion contains workable coals, in the Himalayas, Japan, Tibet, Burma, eastern Siberia and in Spitzbergen. The upper portion of the Karroo beds of South Africa and part of the Otapiri series of New Zealand are probably of Rhaetic age.

The Keuper is not rich in fossils; the principal plants are cypresslike conifers (Walchia, Voltzia) and a few calamites with such forms as Equisetum arenaceum and Pterophyllum Jaegeri, Avicula contorta, Protocardium rhaeticum, Terebratula gregarsa, Myophoria costata, M. Goldfassi and Lingula tenuessima, Anoplophoria lettica may be mentioned among the invertebrates. Fishes include Ceratodus, Hybodus and Lepidotus. Labyrinthodonts represented by the footprints of Cheirotherium and the bones of Labyrinthodon, Mastodonsaurus and Capitosaurus. Among the reptiles are Hyperodapedon, Palaeosaurus, Zanclodon, Nothosaurus and Belodon. Microlestes, the earliest known mammalian genus, has already been mentioned.

See also the article TRIASSIC SYSTEM. (J. A. H.)


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