, 63:1 | Cite as

The soda lake—mesosaline halite lake transition in the Ries impact crater basin (drilling Löpsingen 2012, Miocene, southern Germany)

  • Gernot ArpEmail author
  • Bent T. Hansen
  • Andreas Pack
  • Andreas Reimer
  • Burkhard C. Schmidt
  • Klaus Simon
  • Dietmar Jung
Original Article


Lacustrine sediments of impact craters form valuable climate archives, although chemical evolution and changes in the catchment area potentially superimpose, distort, or obliterate primary climate signals. The 15 Ma Nördlinger Ries in southern Germany, one of the most intensively studied terrestrial impact structures, harbors a well-preserved but controversially interpreted lacustrine sedimentary fill. While earlier studies proposed a climate-driven development from a playa to a mesosaline soda lake (Units A and B), which then decreased in salinity (Units C and D), new investigations suggest a chemical evolution from a playa and soda lake (Units A–C) to a mesosaline halite lake (Unit D), which then turned into a hypersaline halite lake, until an outlet formed. However, problems in the stratigraphic correlation of basin center and margin sediments impeded the recognition of the hypothetical soda to halite lake transition to date. A new drilling in the central crater now provides a solution for the problem. Unit C still comprises analcime-rich dolomite marl with reversely correlated δ13C and δ18O values, thereby reflecting a shallow, highly alkaline, saline meromictic lake (Na–Mg–CO3–SO4). In turn, Unit D is characterized by a change to cycles composed of lignite, diatomite, claystone, marl, and limestone. Gypsum pseudomorphs at the cycle tops indicate saline lake water (Na–Mg–Cl–SO4) with increased Ca2+ concentrations. Reworked, previously aragonitic, green algal tubes prove that early parts of Unit D sediments formed contemporaneously to basin margin green algal bioherms, contrary to previous assumptions. Therefore, the change from a highly alkaline soda lake to a mesosaline halite lake reflects increasing influx of waters from the Bunte Breccia into the lake, while suevite-derived weathering solutions decreased. Low-salinity conditions during Unit D are temporary phases during lake-level rise at the beginning of short-term cycles, whereas stable oxygen isotope ratios indicate meso- to hypersaline conditions at cycle tops. However, the long-term increase in salinity leading to continuous hypersaline conditions is only preserved in carbonates at the crater rim.


Paleoenvironment Ries impact crater Soda lake Isotopes Geochemistry Sedimentary cycles 



The authors would like to thank Alexander Nützel BSPG for providing the original notes of Richard Höfling’s Nördlingen 1973 drill core description, and Richard Höfling for his permit to use his notes. We thank Wolfgang Dröse for SEM sample preparation. Cuttings were provided by BauGrund Süd Gesellschaft für Geothermie mbH drilling company. We are indebted to the employer of the drilling for permission to use samples and drill data for this paleolimnological study. We thank Maurice Tucker and Julian Andrews for their constructive and helpful reviews.

Supplementary material

10347_2016_483_MOESM1_ESM.xls (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 30 kb)
10347_2016_483_MOESM2_ESM.ppt (439 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PPT 439 kb)
10347_2016_483_MOESM3_ESM.xls (28 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (XLS 28 kb)
10347_2016_483_MOESM4_ESM.jpg (1.3 mb)
Metric measurements of ostracod valves from 66 and 50 m depth in comparison with the data obtained from Strandesia risgoviensis (Sieber) by Janz (1995). Left: Strandesia cf. risgoviensis (Sieber), right valve, external view. Löpsingen 50 m depth, basis of Unit D. Right: SEM micrographs of Strandesia risgoviensis (Sieber), external and internal view, Belzheim, from Janz (1995, pl.1/3-4). (JPEG 1372 kb)
10347_2016_483_MOESM5_ESM.jpg (1.6 mb)
Cross-plot of total rock Sr and MgCO3 contents in carbonates from the drilling Löpsingen. Note co-variation between Sr and MgCO3 in dolomicrites and micrites indicating that Sr is bound to the dolomite phase. Only the Cladophorites tube calcite shows exceptionally high Sr values pointing to a primary aragonitic composition. (JPEG 1679 kb)
10347_2016_483_MOESM6_ESM.jpg (1.6 mb)
Cross-plot of δ18O and MgCO3 content in carbonates of the drilling Löpsingen. Note co-variation of δ18O and MgCO3 [mole % in carbonate phase] in dolomicrites and dolomite-containing micrites (Lop 37) suggesting that the co-variation slope largely reflects mixed analysis of the two mineral phases, dolomite and calcite. (JPEG 1656 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gernot Arp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bent T. Hansen
    • 1
  • Andreas Pack
    • 1
  • Andreas Reimer
    • 1
  • Burkhard C. Schmidt
    • 1
  • Klaus Simon
    • 1
  • Dietmar Jung
    • 2
  1. 1.Geowissenschaftliches ZentrumGeorg-August-Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Bayerisches Landesamt für UmweltHof/SaaleGermany

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