Analytical expressions are developed for evaluating palaeodepth and palaeowave conditions from wave ripple marks. Palaeodepth and palaeowave climate estimates can be extremely powerful predictors in reconstructions of vertical movements related to basin subsidence, local and regional ancient wave climate trends and the basin shape.
The analytical expressions developed herein are applied to wave ripple marks preserved in the Lower Marine Molasse of Switzerland, western Austria and southern Germany. The results suggest that, in contrast to traditional concepts of an eustatic sea-level change, the Lower Marine Molasse regression was a result of mainly depositional processes. The subsidence rate greatly exceeded the rate of sea-level fall over a wide geographical area. Furthermore, the widening of the Lower Marine Molasse basin to the ENE is well documented by the increase of the ancient wave period and wave power, calculated from wave ripple marks found in storm deposits.