Get access

Charcoal as evidence of palaeo-wildfires in the Late Triassic of SW Germany


  • Dieter Uhl,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    2. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Institut für Geowissenschaften, Tübingen, Germany
    • Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael Montenari

    1. Earth Sciences and Geography, Keele University, Newcastle (Staffordshire), UK
    Search for more papers by this author


So far only very few reports deal with Triassic (especially macro- or mesofossil) charcoal in detail. Here we present the first results of a detailed study of fossil charcoal from Late Triassic sandstones of the Tübingen Sandstein (Exter-Formation, Rhaetian) in the vicinity of Tübingen in SW Germany. The discovery of charcoal at this locality can be regarded as direct evidence of wildfires in the hinterland of the Rhaetian sea and all charcoal fragments studied so far represent gymnosperm woods. At the moment nothing can be stated about the frequency and extent of such fires, although the occurrence of charcoal in different sandstone-bodies points to more than one fire event. The charcoal content of the marginal marine deposit probably represents a larger region and not only the vegetation in the direct vicinity of the shore. A considerable amount of transport is indicated by abrasion of some of the charcoal fragments and the taphonomic sorting, leading to the selected accumulation of woody fragments. Some charcoal fragments are permineralized by goethite and we assume that in this case the goethite is the primary permineralization agent. Our data support the assumption that during the Late Triassic atmospheric oxygen concentrations were high enough to sustain larger wildfires. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.