U–Pb ages of magmatic and detrital zircon of the Döhlen Basin: geological history of a Permian strike-slip basin in the Elbe Zone (Germany)

  • J. ZiegerEmail author
  • L. Bittner
  • A. Gärtner
  • M. Hofmann
  • A. Gerdes
  • L. Marko
  • U. Linnemann
Original Paper


The post-orogenic evolution of Variscan Central Europe is characterized by the formation of numerous basins. The early Permian Döhlen Basin is located in the Elbe Zone (Germany) and is bordered by metamorphic rocks of the Erzgebirge and numerous Variscan magmatic complexes. The NW–SE-oriented basin is evidence for a major rearrangement of stress fields during the post-Variscan reactivation of fault zones in Central Europe. Eleven samples of magmatic rocks and sediments have been analyzed with respect to their U–Th–Pb isotope ratios and geochemical composition. Of three magmatic samples (two tuffs, one trachyandesite), we analyzed 170 zircon grains. The Unkersdorf Tuff of the Unkersdorf Formation gave an age of 294 ± 3 Ma (Upper Asselian to Sakmarian), whereas a trachyandesite of the same formation was dated at 293 ± 5 Ma (Lower Artinskian to Lower Asselian). The Wachtelberg Ignimbrite (Upper Bannewitz Formation) showed an age of 286 ± 4 Ma (Artinskian to Lower Kungurian). As the first study, we also analyzed 984 detrital zircon grains of nine Late Paleozoic Central European sandstone and conglomerate samples of the Niederhäslich Formation and the Bannewitz Formation with respect to their U–Pb age composition. All sediments but two yielded two distinct age groups between 295 and 340 Ma and 530–750 Ma, as well as a minor amount of Precambrian zircon ages. Geochemical data points to an active margin setting with developing strike-slip basins. The data suggests a c. 10 Ma lasting basin formation during the second culmination of volcano-tectonic activity with basic to intermediate melts. The second youngest formation (Niederhäslich Formation) consists predominantly of pre-Permian basement material, which implies only minor volcanic activity and erosion from adjacent basement blocks. On the contrary, the uppermost and youngest Bannewitz Formation features strong evidence for volcanic activity in the neighboring area of the basin. The present study strongly suggests a rapid basin development and further shows how the evolution of the Döhlen Basin is proof for several post-Variscan tectonic reactivation phases in Sakmarian and Lower Kungurian of Central Europe. Finally, our results exemplarily show how basin evolution may be characterized by radiometric data of detrital zircon grains.


Döhlen Basin U–Pb–Th geochronology Zircon Pyroclastic rocks Variscides 



The authors thank R Krause for helpful assist during the laboratory work. The constructive comments and suggestions by R Rößler, F Breitkreuz and A von Quadt greatly helped to improve the manuscript. In addition, the authors would like to thank Prof. Wolf-Christian Dullo for his editorial work and help.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Geologische Vereinigung e.V. (GV) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of Mineralogy and Geology, Department of GeochronologySenckenberg Natural History Collections DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of GeographyTechnical University DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Agronomy and Nutritional Sciences, Soil BiogeochemistryMartin-Luther University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  4. 4.Department of Geoscience, MineralogyGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany

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