From the intra-desert ridges to the marine carbonate island chain: middle to late Permian (Upper Rotliegend–Lower Zechstein) of the Wolsztyn–Pogorzela high, west Poland



The tectonic Wolsztyn–Pogorzela palaeo-High (WPH) is the south-eastern termination of the Brandenburg–Wolsztyn High (western Poland), which during Late Permian times was an intra-basin ridge surrounded by Upper Rotliegend sedimentary basins within the Southern Permian Basin. The geological history and structural framework of the WPH are complex. The High belongs to the Variscan Externides, consisting at present of strongly folded, faulted and eroded Viséan to Namurian flysch deposits capped by a thick cover of Upper Carboniferous–Lower Permian volcanic rocks. This sedimentary-volcanic complex was strongly fragmented and vertically differentiated by tectonic movements and subsequently eroded, resulting in the deposition of coarse clastics surrounding uplifted tectonic blocks. During late Rotliegend time, arid climatic conditions significantly influenced occurrences of specific facies assemblages: alluvial, fluvial, aeolian and playa. Sedimentological study helped to recognize the interplay of tectonic and palaeoclimatic factors and to understand the phenomenon of aeolian sandstones interbedded with coarse deposits of alluvial cones close to fault scarps.

Subsequent tectonic and possible thermal subsidence of the studied area was synchronous with inundation by the Zechstein Sea. The rapid inundation process allowed for the preservation of an almost perfectly protected Uppermost Rotliegend landscape. Based on 3D seismic data from the base Zechstein reflector, a reconstruction of Rotliegend palaeogeomorphology was carried out, which shows examples of tectonic rejuvenation of particular tectonic blocks within the WPH area before inundation by the Zechstein Sea.

The inundation led to the deposition of the marine Kupferschiefer Shale followed by the Zechstein Limestone. In the deeper parts of the basin the latter is developed in thin basinal facies: in shallow parts (e.g. uplifted tectonic blocks forming in some cases islands), carbonate buildups were formed. The remarkable thickness of those buildups (bryozoan reefs) is interpreted as due to stable tectonic subsidence together with a rise of sea level. A detailed study of carbonate buildups has showed that their internal structure reflects changes in shallow marine environments and even emersion events, caused by sea-level oscillations and tectonic movements of the reef substrate. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.