Field Trip 1

Pulses of Neotethys-Rifting in the Permo-Mesozoic of the Dolomites

Rainer Brandner, Alfred Gruber, Corrado Morelli

Field trip guide (pdf)



The Dolomites have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List because of their value in terms of landscape and geology. Amongst geologists they are famous for their seismic-scale outcrops. They record varied and tectonically controlled sequences of sedimentary and volcanic rocks in basinal and platform/reefal facies realms. The Dolomites are the type locality of facies heteropy (Mojsisovics, 1879) and also provide a model region to learn and discuss sequence stratigraphy. It is also one of the few regions of the world, where one can walk along tourist paths from basin to platform.

Day 1: The field trip crosses the Etsch Valley between Meran and Bozen, where volcanic rocks of the Lower Permian Athesian Volcanic Group are well exposed. The excursion provides insights into a complex volcano-tectonic system which developed in an extensive geodynamic context including the formation of multiple calderas.

Day 2: The day is dedicated to the famous Frötschbach-section with a typical Southalpine Triassic development. Discussion in the field will focus on the long-lasting aberrant environment after the end-Permian mass extinction, the reorganisation of plate tectonics in the Anisian and controversial interpretations about the violent tectono-magmatic event in the upper Ladinian. Seiser Alm and Schlern impressively show a well preserved palaeoslope. We walk along the palaeoslope on the tourist path from the basin to the top of the platform (Schlernhaus hut).

Day 3: Crossing the platform toward the East, we will see well preserved topset facies with interfingering of lagoonal facies and reef plate (“coral garden”), as well as Upper Ladinian and Carnian karstification and local soil sections with bean ore. The last mega-outcrop of the excursion is the impressive palaeoslope section from the Rosszähne carbonate platform down to the Mahlknechtwall toe of the slope. Sea-level or tectonically forced cycles show the interfingering of prograding reef tongues with Cipit bolders and terrigenous volcaniclastic sandstones and conglomerates derived from a volcanic island in the SE.

Physical requirements:

Moderate mountain hike with whole day walks (interrupted by outcrop descriptions) in Alpine terrain. 

Complete hiking gear required, warm and waterproof clothing recommended. A “hut sleeping bag” (i.e. a thin sleeping bag liner) is required for the night at the Schlernhaus mountain hut.

By bus, from and to Innsbruck

1st night Hotel Bad Ratzes, 2nd night Schlernhaus (mountain hut, 2457m)

Number of participants:
minimum 15, maximum 30

23.09.2016  8:00 . Innsbruck, Bus parking area behind SOWI building

25.09.2016 evening.  Innsbruck, Bus parking area behind SOWI building

270 € (including bus transfer from/to Innsbruck, accommodation, half board)