Saxonian Cretaceous Basin
Startigraphy of the Elbsandsteingebirge
The palaeogeography, depositional environments and integrated stratigraphy of the Saxonian
Cretaceous (Elbtal Group, Cenomanian to Coniacian) are described formation-wise following the
current lithostratigraphy, and the succession is placed in a regional context. The Elbtal Group formed
in a narrow strait between the Mid-European Island in the southwest and the Lausitz Block in the
northeast (Westsudetic or Lusatian Island). During the Late Cretaceous period, the Elbtal Group was
situated in an important intermediate position between the temperate Boreal in the north and the
Tethyan warm water areas in the south, and it shows a strong relationships in terms of litho- and
biofacies to contemporaneous deposits and faunas of the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin. Lithologically,
the Elbtal Group consists of marine sandstones, calcareous siltstones (Pläner), marl and marly
limestones which are in part very rich in fossils. The overall sequence describes a transgressive–
regressive megacycle with maximum flooding in the late Middle Turonian. Although sedimentation
allegedly persisted into the later part of the Late Cretaceous, the youngest strata preserved today date
into the Middle Coniacian. The rich fauna of the Cenomanian to Coniacian stages form the basis of the
present fossil compendium.
Correlation of the Lower Turonian in Saxony on the base of borehole desriptions.
Facies correlation of the Lower Turonian in Saxony.
Kaiserkrone point with view of the Schrammstein Massif
The Kaiserkrone is situated NW of Schöna close to the Bahnhofsstraße, that proceeds
down to the Elbe valley and left-elbian train stations of Schmilka-Hirschmühle and Schöna.
Upper Postelwitz Formation (Sandstones c1 – c3) and Schrammstein Formation
(Sandstones d and e); at the Kaiserkrone only up to Sandstone d (lower part), at
Schrammsteinblick up to Sandstone e.
Upper Turonian and (at Schrammsteinblick) Lower Coniacian.
Geomorphology and lithostratigraphy of the Saxonian Switzerland.
view from the northern peak of the
Kaiserkrone towards the Schrammstein Massif with indication of sandstone units, marker beds and formations.
schematic cross-section from the Kaiserkrone to the Großer Winterberg.
γ3 horizon at the Kaiserkrone.
Modified after Wilmsen & Niebuhr 2014)
The Kaiserkrone is a typically small scaled table mountain of the Elbsandsteingebirge
that is strongly eroded. Its peak subdivides into three single peaks orientated by NNW/SSE striking
joint sets, giving the peak a crown-like shape from a distance. The Kaiserkrone has an elevation of
354 m and it is easier to climb than the directly southern Zirkelstein (384 m). Further, the northern
peak provides a remarkable view of the Schrammstein-Winterberg area where Lamprecht (1928,
1934) elaborated the classical formation of the rear Saxonian Switzerland and the subdivision into
sandstones a to e (Fig. 1a). Besides, the wood covered hillside of the Kaiserkrone consist of the Upper
Postelwitz Formation (sandstone c1 – c3), where the top (“crown”) comprises thick bedded, coarse-
grained sandstones of the sandstone d of the Lower Schrammstein Formation, which also contain
portions of fine gravel (Fig. 1b). Note the distinctive marker horizon γ3 that is situated between
sandstone c3 of the Upper Postelwitz Formation and the sandstone d of the Lower Schrammstein
Formation (Fig. 1c), composed of a fine-grained matrix which is less cemented and forms distinctive
gaps or caves due to the erosive propagation (note the granular material “Krümelsand”). Many places
exhibit alum weathering with its characteristic "Eating wounds", which are recognizable by the fresh,
yellowish color of the sandstones. At the level of the γ3 horizon, a circular path leads around the three
Distal – proximal correlation of the Strehlen Limestone (lower Strehlen Formation, mid-Upper Turonian)
with the Zeichen Clay (facies transition zone) and the γ3 horizon (Saxonian Switzerland) at the base of the
Schrammstein Formation as a result of a maximum flooding zone; TST = transgressive systems tract, HST =
highstand systems tract. Strehlen section after Tröger & Wolf (1960).
peaks of the Kaiserkrone. From the northern summit, the Postelwitz formation can be recognized very
nicely at the remaining “Postelwitz quarries” in the geological profile at the slope of the Elbe river
(especially sandstone a1 – a3, that were excavated as „Postaer Sandstein“; Fig. 1a). The
Schrammstein Massif is formed by approximately 50 - 60 m high, perpendicular rock walls of the
sandstone d of the Lower Schrammstein Formation above the γ3 horizon. About 20 m below the
peaks occurs another gap (δ2 horizon), which delineates the sandstone e of the Schrammstein
Formation (Fig. 1a), more often visible through the overgrown parts. The δ2 horizon comprises an
approximately 4 m thick interval of thin-bedded, bioturbate fine-grained sandstones. The sandstone e
reaches at least a thickness of 80 m at the Great Winterberg; while approximately 20 m are remaining
at the Schrammsteine that form the top of the summit range. Only a few mountains tops of the
Elbsandsteingebirge such as the Lilienstein and the Pfaffenstein have kept remains of the sandstone
The stratigraphic boundary between the Postelwitz and the Schrammstein Formation
constitutes a significant Upper Turonian marker horizon: the γ3 horizon is representing a major
transgressive event (well sorted, fine-grained marine quartz arenites) that correlates with the Strehlen
and Weinböhlaer Limestone of the basin profiles of the Dresden area, and in addition with the
Hyphantoceras event and the Zeichen Clay in the facies transition area (Seifert 1955, Voigt 1994,
Tröger & Wejda 1997, Janetschke & Wilmsen 2014, Fig. 2). The coarse-grained sandstones of the
lower Schrammstein Formation mainly consist of quartz (with partly reddish color) but exhibit a poorly
textural maturity (poorly sorting and roundness). Regarding the depositional environment, a coastal
facies together with short transport of the detritus from the Lusatian Block can be observed. High
sedimentation rates and therefore fast burial inhibited any further marine maturation of the coastal
sand deposits. That led to the assumption of high subsidence in the area of the Lusatian Thrust and
corresponding syn-sedimentary tectonics.
Further, the δ2 horizon shows an additional transgressional event affecting the coarse-grained coastal
facies of the Schrammstein Formation. This is presumably an event of the Lowermost Coniacian, in
particular when taking into account the correlation of the δ2 horizon with the Zatschke Marl.
The presence of inocerams of the Cremnoceramus-Waltersdorfensis and Cremnoceramus-deformis
groups of the Lower Coniacian in the Zatzschke Marl near Pirna-Zatzschke is assured. However,
sandstones c, d and e of the Schrammstein-Winterberg area only contain minor amounts of
biostratigraphically useful fossils. All the important index fossils of the Upper Postelwitz Formation and
the Schrammstein Formation, with the Lower Coniacian index-inoceram Cremnoceramus inconstans
from the borehole Rathewalde (Tröger 2008), derived from the transition area of the sandy to the
marly lithofacies between Pirna - Wehlen - Rosenthal - Bielatal (vgl. Tröger & Voigt in Niebuhr et al.
2007, Tröger & Niebuhr 2014).
Hockstein lookout point near Hohnstein
The Hockstein lookout is a cliff situated on the western slope of the Polenz valley. From the
parking lot below the “Hocksteinschänke”, a signposted hiking trail heading southeast to the Polenz
valley. Across the Devil´s Bridge you can reach the Hockstein lookout point on top of a bluff.
Upper Turonian to Lower Coniacian
The Hockstein consists of an articulated platform, whose almost vertical walls reign 100
m above the Polenz valley (Fig. 3). On the other side of the valley dominates the castle of Hohnstein
surrounded by the village of Hohnstein to the NE. From there, the Mühlbergstraße runs down in
narrow bends to the Polenz valley and climbs up as Wartenbergstrasse to the Hocksteinschänke. In
1958, the Lusatian Thrust was exhibited during road works on the western side of the valley (Rast
1959). The Lusatian granodiorite was encountered in shallow NE-dipping tectonic contact with strongly
jointed and silicified Turonian sandstones. Moreover, RAST (1959: 114) described a 20 to 30 cm thick
zone of a "gray, silty, smeary substance" as product of "strongest pressing and grinding of the
granite". In addition to this presumed mylonite, slickensides are also very frequent in the sandstones
of the immediate surrounding, indicating the enormous stresses in a reverse fault. Unfortunately, the
outcrop conditions and the accessibility of the profil at the Wartenbergstraße are now severely
restricted. Repeatedly, the sandstones of the Postelwitz and Schrammstein Formations near the
Lusatian Thrust, are comprising intercalated matrix-rich breccias and conglomerates with gravel-sized
components. Hence, indicating an increased topography in the vicinity and the availability of coarse
clasts. The components are Jurassic limestones, limonite concretions, quartz, red siltstones and
limonitic sandstone (Häntzschel 1928, Seifert 1937, Voigt 2009). Further, those elements pinch out to
the W and therefore indicating an origin from the Lusatian block. Geomorphologically, the lithological
change at the Lusatian Thrust is impressively demonstrated by the shape of the Polenz valley. In the
northern part, the "Granitic Polenz valley" shows gentle slopes and an extended, meadow covered
valley floor. Downstream to the south, the character changes rapidly to a canyon with steeply dipping
walls. In the process, this narrow "Sandstone Polenz valley" carved out the sandstones d and e of the
Schrammstein Formation (Upper Turonian to Lower Coniacian).
Voigt (2009) mentioned, that the Lusatian Thrust as north-east limiting structural
element of the Saxonian Cretaceous Basin has been active since the late Cenomanian. Debris flow
deposits in the sandstone rocks of the Postelwitz and Schrammstein Formations show, however, that
the elevation and erosion of the Lusatian Block and the flexural subsistence of the edged trough is
supposed to be intensified in the mid-Turoniam stage. Most of the layers from the overburden of the
Lusatian were eroded (Voigt 2009, Hofmann et al. 2013). Also, the absence of layers which are
younger than Coniacian age imply only speculative statements over the further course of the basin
evolution. But it is assumed that recent 1000 m thick cover of the Cretaceous was substantially larger
(Voigt 2009), further expecting a similar chronological sequence for the Lusatian Thrust as like the
“Harznordrand Fault” with an apex in the Santonian and Campanian (see T. Voigt Et al., 2006).
Simplified geological map of the Hohnstein area (after Rast 1959) with position of the
Häntzschel, W. (1928): Neue Aufschlüsse an der Lausitzer Hauptverwerfung bei Hohnstein (Sächs.
Schweiz). – N. Jb. Mineral.,
Geol. Paläont., Beil.-Bd.
, Abt. B: 80 – 116.
Hofmann, M.; Linnemann, U.; Voigt, T. (2013): The Upper Cretaceous section at Schmilka in
Saxony (Elbsandsteingebirge, Germany) – syntectonic sedimentation and inverted zircon age
populations revealed by LA-ICP-MS U/Pb data. – Geol. Sax.,
: 101 – 130, Dresden.
Janetschke, N.; Wilmsen, M. (2014): Sequence stratigraphy of the lower Upper Cretaceous Elbtal
Group (Cenomanian – Turonian of Saxony, Germany). – Z. dt. Ges. Geowiss., 165: 179 – 208,
Lamprecht, F. (1928): Schichtenfolge und Oberflächenformen im Winterberggebiete des
Elbsandsteingebirges. – Mitt. Ver. Erdkunde, Jg. 1927: 1 – 48, Dresden.
Elbsandsteingebirge. – Ber. mathem. phys.
Kl. sächs. Akad. Wiss. Leipzig, 86: 155 – 186, Leipzig.
Rast, H. (1959): Geologischer Führer durch das Elbsandsteingebirge. – Bergakademie Freiberg
Fernstudium: 1 – 224, Berlin (Dt. Verl. Wiss.).
Seifert, A. (1937): Die Gerölle im Turon-Sandstein entlang der Lausitzer Überschiebung im
Elbsandsteingebirge. – Z. dt. geol.
: 629 – 647, Berlin.
Seifert, A. (1955): Stratigraphie und Paläogeographie des Cenoman und Turons im sächsischen
Elbtalgebiet. – Freiberger Forsch.-H., C 14: 1 – 218, Freiberg.
Tröger, K.-A. (2008): Kreide – Oberkreide. – In: Pälchen, W.; Walter, H. (Eds.): Geologie von
Sachsen. 311 – 358; Stuttgart.
Tröger, K.A.; Niebuhr, B. (2014): Inoceramide Muscheln. – In: Niebuhr, B.; Wilmsen, M. (Eds.):
Kreide-Fossilien in Sachsen,
Teil 1. Geol. Sax,
(1): 169 – 199, Dresden.
Tröger, K.-A.; Voigt, T. (2007): Elbtal-Gruppe. – In: Niebuhr, B.; Hiss, M.; Kaplan, U.; Tröger, K.-A.;
Voigt, S.; Voigt, T.; Wiese, F.; Wilmsen, M. (Eds.), Lithostratigraphie der norddeutschen
Oberkreide. Schrift-R. dt. Ges. Geowiss.,
: 50 – 66, Hannover.
Tröger, K.-A.; Wejda, M. (1997): Biostratigraphie der Strehlener Formation (Ob. Turon bis Unt.-
Coniac) im Gebiet von Dresden. – Freiberger Forsch.-H., C 466: 1 – 17, Freiberg.
Voigt, S.; Gale, A.S.; Voigt, T. (2006): Sea-level changes, carbon cycling and palaeoclimate during
the Late Cenomanian of northwest Europe; an integrated palaeoenvironmental analysis. – Cret.
: 836 – 858, Amsterdam.
Epikontinentalmeeres – die Sedimentationsgeschichte der Sächsischen Kreide. – Diss.-Schr. TU
1 – 130, Freiberg. [Unveröff.]
Voigt, T. (2009): Die Lausitz-Riesengebirgs-Antiklinalzone als kreidezeitliche Inversionsstruktur:
Geologische Hinweise aus den umgebenden Kreidebecken. – Z. geol. Wiss.,
: 15 – 39, Berlin.
Wilmsen, M. & Niebuhr, B. (2014): Stratigraphy and depositional setting of the Cretaceous in
Saxony (Elbtal Group, Cenomanian – Lower Coniacian) - Geologica Saxonia., 60 (2): 347 – 369,