, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 177–194 | Cite as

Isopollen maps as a tool for the reconstruction of a coastal swamp from the Middle Eocene at Helmstedt (Northern Germany)

  • Olaf Klaus Lenz
  • Walter Riegel


In the Middle Eocene lignite bearing succession at Helmstedt, isopollen maps have been constructed from a thin, highly carbonaceous horizon in the interbed between two seams of the Wulfersdorf member. During mining progress this carbonaceous band could be traced in the mine high wall over an area of 2 km by 0.5 km and is considered to represent an isochronous horizon. 28 samples were collected and analyzed.

On the basis of the isopollen maps it is possible, to distinguish between allochthonous and autochthonous elements. Ultimately, by comparison of the maps individual plant associations and environmental conditions may be recognized. In case of the carbonaceous horizon of the Wulfersdorf seam group a coastal swamp succession can be traced from a mangrove fringe through a brackish marsh and a freshwater marsh to a mire forest. The distribution of mangrove elements likeRhizophora, Avicennia andNypa in this horizon clearly shows that the shoreline was to the northwest and advanced from there inland to the southeast. A fourth element,Psilodiporites iszkaszentgyoergyi, is restricted in distribution and closely associated with the other known mangrove types and therefore considered here to be a part of the mangrove fringe. Behind the mangrove zone, pollen of Restionaceae and Sparganiaceae as well as fern spores are more abundant than elsewhere in the Wulfersdorf seam section suggesting that a reed-like vegetation with fern and aquatic herbs developed here under rather wet conditions. A hammocky distribution of corresponding plants is indicated by the isopollen map of palms likeArecipites spp. and other elements. The main peat forming vegetation, however, was a mire forest dominated by Fagaceae alternating with a Betulaceae dominated forest including Myricaceae and Juglandaceae.


Palynology Isopollen Maps Palaeoecology Lignites Germany Middle Eocene 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Assemien, P. (1969): Pollens fossile de Rhizophora à Bougé (Basse Vallée du Sénégal).—Pollen et Spores,11/1, 73–81, ParisBechler, A. and Beug, H.-J. (1987): Isopollen maps for 18000 years B. P. of the Atlantic offshore of Northwest Africa: evidence for paleowind circulation.—Paleoceanography,2, 561–582, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. Blasco, F. (1977): Outlines of ecology, botany and forestry of the mangals of the Indian subcontinent—In: Chapman, V. J. (ed.): Ecosystems of the world.—Vol. 1: Wet coastal ecosystems, 241–260, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulter, M.C. and Hubbard, R.N.L.B. (1982): Objective paleoecological and biostratigraphic interpretation of Tertiary palynological data by multivariate statistical analysis. Palynology,6, 55–68, AustinGoogle Scholar
  4. Bullwinkel, V. (1996): Fazies und Sedimentologie der Begleitder Wulfersdorfer Flözgruppe (Mittel-Eozän, Tagebau Helmstedt), Oberes Zwischenmittel und Hangendes.—Unpubl. Dipl.-Arb., Univ. Göttingen 106 p., GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  5. Cavagnetto, C. and Anadón, P. (1995): Une mangrove complexe dans le Bartonien du bassin de le l'Ebre (Ne de l'Espagne).— Palaeontographica, Abt. B,236, 147–165, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  6. Daubenmire, R., (1978): Plant geography, with special reference to North America.—1–338. New York (Academic Press)Google Scholar
  7. Dupont, L. M. and Hooghiemstra, H. (1989): The Saharan-Sahelian boundary during the Brunhes chron.—Acta Bot. Neerl.,38/4, 405–415, Oxford (Blackwell)Google Scholar
  8. Frederiksen, N. O. (1985): Review of Early Tertiary Sporomorph Palaeoecology.—Am. Ass. Stratigr. Palynol., Contrib. Ser,15, 1–92, DallasGoogle Scholar
  9. Frederiksen, N. O., Wiggins, V. D., Ferguson, I. K., Dransfield, J. and Ager, C. M. (1985): Distribution, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, and botanical affinity of the eocene pollen genusDiporoconia n. gen.—Palynology,9, 37–60, Austin.Google Scholar
  10. Gauch, H. G. (1982): Multivariate analysis in community ecology. —Seiten fehlen. New York (Cambr. Univ. Press)Google Scholar
  11. Gebka, M., Mosbrugger, V., Schilling, H.-D. and Utescher, T. (1999): Regional-scale palaeoclimate modelling on soft proxy-data basis—an example from the Upper Miocene of the Lower Rhine Embayment.—Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,152, 3–4, 225–258, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hammer-Schiemann, G. (1998): Palynologische Untersuchungen zur Fazies und Ökologie der Unterflözgruppe im Tagebau Schöningen (Untereozän, Helmstedt, Bez. Braunschweig).— Unpubl. Thesis, Univ. Göttingen, 146 p., GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  13. Haseldonckx, P. (1972): The presence ofNypa palms in Europe: A solved problem.—Geologie en Mijnbow,51, 645–650, Leiden.Google Scholar
  14. Heywood, V. H. (1982): Blütenpflanzen der Welt—####Google Scholar
  15. Huntley, B. and Birks, H. J. B. (1983): An atlas of past and present pollen maps for Europe: 0–13.000 years ago.—667 p., Cambridge (Cambridge Univ. Press)Google Scholar
  16. Krutzsch, W., Blumenstengel, H., Kiesel, Y. and Rüffle, L. (1992): Paläobotanische Klimagliederung des Alttertiärs (Mitteleozän bis Oberoligozän) in Mitteldeutschland und das Problem der Verknüpfung mariner und kontinentaler Gliederungen (klassische Biostratigraphie—paläobotanisch-ökologische Klimastratigraphie—Evolutionsstratigraphie der Vertebraten). —N. Jb. Geol. Paläont., Abh.,186, H. 1/2, 137–253, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  17. Lenz, O. K. (2000): Paläoökologie eines Küstenmoores aus dem Eozän Mitteleuropas am Beispiel der Wulfersdorfer Flöze und deren Begleitschichten (Helmstedter Oberflözgruppe, Tagebau Helmstedt).—Doctoral diss., Univ. Göttingen, 228 p., Göttingen Published: Scholar
  18. Lietzow, A., Paul, J., Ritzkowski, S and Schmidt, B. (1990): Marine Ingressionen in der eozänen Halle-Helmstedter Bucht als Anzeiger für Meeresspiegelschwankungen.—Nachr. dt. geol. Gesell.,43, 138–139, Hannover.Google Scholar
  19. Lietzow, A. (1991): Das Paläogen des Tagebaus Schöningen, Baufeld Esbeck bei Helmstedt (östliches Niedersachsen).—Unpubl. Dipl.-Arb., Univ. Göttingen, 104 p., Göttingen.Google Scholar
  20. Look, E. R. (1984): Geologie und Bergbau im Braunschweiger Land.—Ber. naturhist. Gesell. Hannover,127:1–467, Hannover.Google Scholar
  21. Mai, H. D. (1995): Tertiäre Vegetationsgeschichte Europas.— 691 p., Jena, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  22. Manger, G. (1952): Der Zusammenhang von Salztektonik und Braunkohlenbildung bei der Entstehung der Helmstedter Braunkohlenlagerstätten.—Mitt. Geol. Staatsinst. Hamburg,21, 7–45, Hamburg.Google Scholar
  23. Mosbrugger, V (1995): New methods and approaches in Tertiary palaeoenvironmental research.—Abh. Staatl. Mus. f. Min. u. Geol. Dresden,41, 41–52, DresdenGoogle Scholar
  24. Muller, J. (1959): Palynology of Recent Orinoco Delta and shelf sediments.—Micropaleontolgy,5, 1–32, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Muller, J. and Caratini, C. (1977): Pollen ofRhizophora as a guide fossil.—Pollen et Spores,19, 361–389, ParisGoogle Scholar
  26. Pflug, H. (1952): Palynologie und Stratigraphie der Braunkohlen von Helmstedt.—Paläont. Zeitschr.,26, 112–137, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  27. Pflug, H. (1986): Palyno-Stratigraphie des Eozän/Oligozän im Raum von Helmstedt, in Nordhessen und im südlichen Anschlußbereich.—In: Tobien, H. (ed.): Nordwestdeutschland im Tertiär. —Beitr. z. Reg. Geol. Erde,18, 576–582, Berlin, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  28. Platt, W.J., Schwartz, M. W. (1992): Temperate hardwood forests. —In: Myers, R.L. and Ewel, J.J. (eds.): Ecosystems of Florida, 194–229, Orlando (University of Central Florida Press)Google Scholar
  29. Ralska-Jasiewiczowa, M. (1983): Isopollen maps for Poland: 0–1000 years B.P..—New Phytol.,94, 133–175, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Richards, P. W. (1996): The tropical rain forest. An ecological study.—2nd ed., 1–575, Cambridge (University Press)Google Scholar
  31. Riegel, W. (1965): Palynology of environments of peat formation in southwestern Florida.—Diss. Pennsylvania State Univ., 189 p., State Park.Google Scholar
  32. Riegel, W., Bode, T., Hammer, J., Hammer-Schiemann, G., Lenz, O. K. and Wilde, V. (1999): The palaeoecology of the Lower and Middle Eocene at Helmstedt, northern Germany—A study in contrasts.—Acta Palaeobot. Suppl. 2, 349–358, Proceedings 5th EPPC, CracowGoogle Scholar
  33. Steenis, C. G. G. J. van (1962): The land-bridge theory in botany. —Blumea,11/2, 237–372, Leiden.Google Scholar
  34. Thomson, P. W. (1950): Grundsätzliches zur tertiären Pollen-und Sporenmikrostratigraphie auf Grund der Untersuchung des Hauptflözes der rheinischen Braunkohle in Liblar, Neurath, Fortuna und Brühl.—Geol. Jb.,65, 113–126, HannoverGoogle Scholar
  35. Walther, H. and Zetter, R. (1993): Zur Entwicklung der paläogenen Fagaceen Mitteleuropas.—Palaeontographica, Abt. B,230, 183–194, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  36. Wilkening, W. and Adler, R. E. (1981): Exkursion B11: Montangeologie des Braunkohlentagebaus Helmstedt.—133. Hauptversammlung d. Deutschen Geol. Ges., Clausthal 1981, 155–171, ClausthalGoogle Scholar
  37. Willard, D. A., Weimer, L. M. and Riegel, W. L. (2001): Pollen assemblages as paleoenvironmental proxies in the Florida Everglades.—Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol.,113, 213–235, Amsterdam.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ziegler, P. A. (1990): Geological atlas of western and central Europe.—Shell Internationale Petroleum Maatschapping B. V., 239 p., Den HaagGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Institut für Palaentologie, Universitat Erlangen 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Klaus Lenz
    • 1
  • Walter Riegel
    • 1
  1. 1.Göttinger Zentrum GeowissenschaftenUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

Personalised recommendations