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Triassic ammonoids of the Alps

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Dear Fossil Forum members!

This report deals with ammonoids from the former zone of Protrachyceras archelaus, which is our present Longobardian within the Ladinian stage of the marine Triassic timescale.



A beautiful view of the surging “rock waves” of the incoming tectonic thrust sheets. The valley between the two Mountains in the middle of the picture marks the tectonic border between the mainly Triassic Hallstatt Unit and the Tirolikum Unit of the Totengebirgs nappe (in the background).


Since the beginning of the geological research within the Northern Calcareous Alps of Austria in the middle of the 19th century, about 500 species of Triassic ammonoids have been described in great Monographs by Mojsisovics, Hauer, Diener and other early authors. The ammonoids described therein came from upper Anisian to uppermost Norian aged parts of the Hallstatt limestone in Austria.

Only in the lower to middle Ladinian period, a gap exists in the rich ammonoid record of these early researchers.

This gap was explained by them as an interruption of sedimentation in the Ladinian time or tectonically reduced Ladinian strata during the genesis of the Alps.

During these early days no one thought of a collecting gap because Ladinian ammonoid faunae were well described and known from several localities in the Southern Alps and the Bakony Mountains in Hungary.

In 1882 Mojsisovics pictured ammonoids of Anisian and Ladinian age in his monographic work “Die Cephalopoden der mediterranen Triasprovinz”.

The locations mentioned therein reach from the upper Anisian Schreyeralm limestone here in Austria to several Ladinian locations of the former Austrian provinces Südtirol, Lombardy and the kingdom of Hungary, which were also part of the former Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy at this time. Included in this work were also Scythian and Anisian ammonoids from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Fig.2 Frontpage of Mojsisovics second great monograph from the year 1882.

The detailed accurate descriptions and illustrations provided by Mojsisovics are unquestionably the greatest contribution by a single author towards appreciating the astonishing beauty and variety of Triassic ammonoids” (cit. E. T. TOZER).

Therefore every recent Triassic ammonoid researcher includes these old works in the standard literature of Triassic ammonoids. These old works were so to speak, a cornerstone for building the marine middle and upper Triassic timescale of our days.

Unfortunately the early stratigraphic scales of Mojsisovics had some mistakes. Originally the stratigraphic position of the “Norian” stage was set by him below the Carnian.

He used the term Norian for the time frame we today call Ladinian. Mojs. thought that most parts of today’s real Norian Hallstatt limestone of Austria were of the same age as real Ladinian strata in the Southern Alps. Some misinterpret location data, i.e. the wrong assumed position of the fineclastic Zlambach marls as base of the Hallstatt limestone led him to this wrong assumption.

It was the Austrian geologist Alexander Bittner, a contemporary of Mojsisovics, who introduced the term Ladinian into literature by recognizing the false assumptions of Mojsisovics. The name Ladinian was chosen by Bittner after the Ladinian folk of the Southern Alps/Dolomites. At this time this area was also part of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy with its capital Vienna and it’s so called “Vienna school” of the palaeontology institutions there.

Probably this “miss take” of Mojsisovics led to some changed ammonoid zones within the Norian timescale, which last into the 20th century.

It was the merit of the Canadian Triassic worker E.T. Tozer to correct this long lasting error by establish his own North American Triassic timescale, based only on North American, mainly Canadian Triassic ammonoid locations.

The pelagic (deeper marine) Triassic sedimentation in Austria starts with the uppermost Anisian Flexo-Ptychites beds/lenses of the Schreyeralm limestone. This is also the base of the Hallstatt formation. The next frequent ammonoid lenses/layers occur within uppermost Ladinian/lower Carnian strata in this formation. The lower to middle Ladinian time frame in between was not well documented with ammonoids by the early researchers of the 19th century. At some historical locations the lower Ladinian part is/was given but was not really recognised by them.

Later, modern researchers used microfossils to determine the placement of large parts of the grey to violet limestone in the Hallstatt formation into the Ladinian. Within the 20th century also scarce ammonoids were mentioned from these middle Ladinian strata.


Fig.3 Anisian Schreieralm limestone with cross sections of Flexoptychites sp.


Fig.4 Monophyllites sphaerophyllus (HAUER) from the Schreieralm limestone

In general, ammonoid locations are not frequently known within the Ladinian part of the Hallstatt limestone.

The most common fossils are Crinoid stem parts, Bivalves and Conodonts.

The limestone facies consists of red to grey, sometimes yellowish to grey coloured limestone which is locally interbedded with marls.

Also strongly condensed successions are common there and fossils also do not occur in continuous layers.

Comparable Ladinian ammonoid faunas are also well known from similar Hallstatt type limestone in Greece and Italy. They show similar ammonoid faunae of Ladinian to Carnian age.

In the Tethys realm the whole Ladinium is split into two subdivisions today.

Upper Ladinian = Longobardian,

Lower Ladinian = Fassanian,

The historical zone ammonite of the Longobardian is Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE).



Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE), in MOJSISOVICS “Die Cephalopoden der mediterranen Triasprovinz“ Wien 1882

Tafel XXXL, Fig. 1,

But Protrachyceras archelaus LAUBE do occur within a longer time span and is therefore not perfect for stratigraphic aims. The old archelaus zone of the Ladinian was therefore changed into several Longobardian and Fassanian ammonoid zones of today.

Within the Tethys realm the Longobardian is split into the ammonoid zones of:

Daxatina canadensis

Frankites regoledanus

Protrachyceras longobardicum

The Fassanian is split to the ammonoid zones of:

Eoprotrachyceras gredleri

Protrachyceras margaritosum

Eoprotrachyceras curionii

The ammonoids shown in this report come from a condensed fossil bed roughly inserted to the turquoise marked ammonoid zones of the timescale below.


Historical Ladinian locations

The condensed lower Carnian fossil lenses on the famous historical Feuerkogel show almost all a portion of the upper Ladinian at their base. This is also visible at other Lower Carnian locations within the Hallstatt limestone.

During the last years Proarcestes sp. from a new location are sometimes shown for sale in the internet. They are sometimes identified as Arcestes sp. from Norian strata. But it is Proarcestes, therefore its Norian age is definitely wrong.

I visited this new locality a few years ago. All locations there are of Ladinian age which is evidenced by Proarcestes cf. subtridentinus, Anolcites sp. and Epigymnites sp. This fauna is maybe slightly younger than the fauna shown later here in this report.


Fig.6 Some Epigymnites arthaberi (MOJS.) and Epigymnites moelleri (MOJS.) from the above mentioned location

The new location

Several years ago a friend and I were lucky to find a hitherto unknown middle Ladinian ammonoid location during a prospecting trip. At this location the normal limestone succession is penetrated by several fractures and tectonic influence across the normal layer direction is also visible there. The fossil layer itself, in which ammonoids were frequent, consists of a very strong condensed upper part of lower Longobardian age, indicated by Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS.), and a lower part of a slightly older age indicated by scarce last descendants of Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS. which show deeply incised second and third lateral saddles similar Aristoptychites or Arctoptychites.

Therefore the location is ranged by me to the transition of the ammonoid zones of Protrachyceras longobardicum and the underlying Eoprotrachyceras gredleri zone. Outside of the Tethys realm this is roughly comparable to the zones of Meginoceras meginae MC LEARN and Tuchodiceras poseidon (TOZER) of the North American timescale. Both zones are known from the Triassic of British Columbia in Canada too. Tozer, 1994, wrote that flat forms of Protrachyceras sikianum MC LEARN are comparable with Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS.) and the thicker morphs of Pt. sikianum MC LEARN with Pt. archelaus (LAUBE).



View of the lower, sometimes more greyish limestone part of the fossil layer. The chisel points to a Sturia cf. semiarata MOJS.

The furrows on the limestone block have their origin in the strong condensation of this limestone. One can recognize by this feature the underlying part of a condensed limestone (fossil) layer.



In contrast to the above shown picture, a view of the underside of the overlaying layer where craters/hollows are visible. These two features can be used for recognizing up and downside in strongly condensed limestone. This feature is independent from the Triassic age of the rock and occurs in condensed limestone of Jurassic age too.

The right hanging limestone block contains the fossil layer.



Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS). in situ. View from the underside. The upper half of the ammonoid was totally dissolved due to the extreme condensation of the uppermost limestone layer at this location.

In this location P. archelaus occurs very scarcely. It is no good indicator for stratigraphic aims here at all.

A normal collector can use the following features to insert ammonoids into the Ladinian timescale.

  1. The frequent occurrence of Proarcestes sp. with a wavy end body chamber is a sign for Ladinian age.

  1. All forms of Sturia sp. are restricted to the late Anisian and Ladinian.

  1. The occurrence of real Ladinian Protrachyceras MOJS.

The following picture will show you the main differences between Protrachyceras, Trachyceras and Neoprotrachyceras.



In contrast to Trachyceras the venter furrow of real Protrachyceras MOJS. is bordered by nodes which show a single point per node. Protrachyceras are restricted to the Ladinian.

Real Trachyceras show “broader” nodes with two or three points a node bordering the venter furrow. Trachyceras is frequent in the Lower Carnian (Julian)

The genus Neoprotrachyceras KRYSTYN looks similar toTrachyceras but shows also just one point per node, sometimes changing up to two points per node within maturity. Neoprotrachyceras is restricted to the uppermost Lower Carnian and lowermost Upper Carnian (e.g. the genus Spirogmoceras SILBERLING in the Dilleri Zone of the North American Tuvalian)

For a newbie collector it is difficult to find some fossils in the Hallstatt limestone at all. To place them into the right ammonoid zone is sometimes the easier part of the exercise.



A weathered cross section of Proarcestes sp., visible at the limestone wall. Notice the bleached limestone surface in contrast to the colour of the fresh rock.



Talus block with visible cross sections of ammonoids and orthocone nautiloids

Natural picture size is 20cm. The edges of the fossils are deeply weathered in. This can be a sign that the fossils will probably split out well.

Small idiomorphic Biotite crystals up to one mm in size, fine Feldspar crystals and thin greenish tuffitic crusts around some ammonoids and limestone clasts indicate a distant simultaneous volcanic event, adjacent to the palaeo Hallstatt realm. This is the very first observation of volcanic fallout/washout within the Hallstatt limestone column.

Within other tectonic nappes in the Northern and Southern Calcareous Alps (Dolomites) volcanic (Tuffitic) ash layers are a frequent feature in Ladinian time. In the adjacent Tirolic nappe some volcanic/tuffitic events are evidenced near the base of the archelaus zone.

The middle Ladinian fauna listed below was found at this location.


cf. Beyrichites sp.

Eupinacoceras cf. damesi (MOJSISOVICS).

Epigymnites cf. ecki (MOJS.)

Epigymnites cf. breunneri (HAUER)

Epigymnites arthaberi (MOJS.)

Gymnites raphaelis TOMMASI

Megaphyllites obolus MOJS.

Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)

cf. Silenticeras sp.

Sturia cf. sansovinii MOJS.

Sturia semiarata MOJS.

Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI

Proarcestes subtridentinus MOJS.

Proarcestes .sp.

Procladiscites sp.

Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE)

Protrachyceras longobardicum MOJS.

Protrachyceras sp.

Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS.

Ptychites cf. plusiae RENZ

Michelinoceras sp.

Atractites sp.

Syringoceras cf. longobardicus

Nautilus div. sp.


Daonella sp.

Peribositra sp.


Discinisca sp.

Austriellula dilatata (SUESS)

Important ammonoid species of the archelaus zone

A beautiful, conspicuous faunal element of the archelaus zone is Protrachyceras longobardicum MOJS. the zone ammonoid of the Langobardicum Zone

This species shows its maximum roughly in the lower middle of the former archelaus zone and can be used well for stratigraphic aims. As mentioned earlier in this report compressed variants of Protrachyceras sikanianum MC LEARN are comparable to Pt. longobardicum MOJS. The thicker variants of Pt. sikanianum rather resemble Pt. archelaus LAUBE.


Fig. 13 Protachyceras longobardicum MOJS. with Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI and Proarcestes cf. subtridentinus MOJS.


Fig. 14 Pt. cf. longobardicum, some juvenile Arcestes sp. and the brachiopod Austriellula dilatata.


Fig. 15 Epigymnites breunneri (HAUER) and Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)


Fig. 16 Epigymnites arthaberi MOJS. and Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)


Fig. 17 Gymnites raphaelis TOMMASI


Fig. 18Discinisca sp. Looks like a fossil Limpet gastropod (Patellidae) but in reality it is an inarticulate Brachiopoda


Fig. 19Sturia cf. semiarata together with Proarcestes cf. ombonii

The most frequent faunal element of the Ladinian within the Tethys realm is Proarcestes BRONN. This genus occurs with several species up to Carnian strata. In our location Proarcestes subtridentinus MOJS. and Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI was often found. The second one can reach the dimension of a small ball.


Fig. 20 Proarcestes subtridentinus


Fig. 21 Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)

In the Hallstatt limestone this genus starts with the Anisian Monophyllites sphaerophyllus via the Ladinian M. wengensis up to the Carnian M. simonyi. Within the descendants of the Triassic Phylloceratida the ancestor of the Jurassic Ammonitida is supposed.


Fig. 22 Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS. This species of Ptychites show deeply incised second and third Lateral saddles. I think that this is a feature of allmost all "late" species of Ptychites.


Fig. 23 Ptychites cf. plusiae RENZ


Fig. 24 Sageceras walteri

I hope you have enjoyed this new report about the Ladinian strata of my favourite collecting area.

Again I thank, “Danke Roger”, Fossil forum member “Ludwigia” for correcting my “Austrian” English.

Kind regards



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The Tuvalian Substage Of The Triassic Hallstatt Limestone In Austria

Written by Andreas Spatzenegger

Dear Fossil Forum members!

This report will introduce you to the Tuvalian substage (uppermost Carnian/ Triassic) of the so called Hallstatt limestone in Austria.


View above the Hallein-Berchtesgaden Triassic area to the Watzmann and the Hochkalter mountains.

The name of this substage was chosen by "Old master" Mojsisovics from the mediaeval name of the hill ridge/salt mine area between the rivers Salzach and Königseeache in the borderland between Bavaria (Germany) and the county of Salzburg (Austria). Originally this term was of Roman source (Mons Tuval) but it was preserved in this area to our days (e.g. ruin of the castle Tuval)

The wordTuval has probably Hebraeic roots and mean "rich" or "blessed" earth because of the saltmines of this area.

The ammonites of the family Tropitidae (Mojsisovics 1875) are characteristic for the whole Tuvalian. Typically important genera of this family are: Discotropites, Gymnotropites, Margaritropites, Paratropites, Pleurotropites and Tropites s. s.

A few other genera not listed above belong also to this family but I will not list them here because this report should not get too long.

Representative for the Tropitidae is shown a picture of Tropites subbullatus, the zone ammonite of the alpine Tuvalian II, from the old Monographic work of Mojsisovics „Das Gebirge um Hallstatt. 1893, Taf. CVI,"

Tropites subbullatus (Fr. v. Hauer) 1849


Division of the Tuvalian

In the North American literature (after Tozer) the Tuvalian is split into three Zones.

It starts with the Dilleri Zone, the Welleri Zone and the Macrolobatus Zone on the top.

Characteristic for the Dilleri zone is the arising of the genus Tropites together in co-existence with later members of the genus Neoprotrachyceras sp.(Spirogmoceras SILBERLING) In the Welleri zone Neoprotrachyceras sp. disappear and Tropites becomes a very common faunal element.

The Macrolobatus zone is named after Klamathites macrolobatus an endemic ammonite of the North American strata.

Other genera of this zone are comparable to the time frame of the latest Tuvalian and the earliest Norian of the Alps.

In the Hallstatt (Tethys) realm the following Division is made.

Dilleri Zone= Tuvalian I (literature gives little evidence for this zone)

Subbullatus Zone = Tuvalian II (corresponds in most parts to the north American Welleri


Anatropites Zone= Tuvalian III (corresponds in parts to the North American Macrolobatus Zone)

In the Alps normally you can observe in the field only Tuvalian II and Tuvalian III, but one has to ask the question if there are all three North American Zones included in these two alpine Zones.

In my opinion there is less evidence for a time gap in the lower Tuvalian of the Alpine strata. Visibly stronger condensation in this generally condensed limestone occurs frequently in the upper Tuvalian III.

E.g. Discotropites sandlingense is in North America a clear Dilleri faunal element but in the Alps it is ranged into Tuvalian II (Welleri Zone). The same is done with the genus Traskites sp. (corresponding to alpine Sandlingites sp.). Some ammonites of the upper part of the Macrolobatus Zone are also ranged to the first zone of the alpine Norian stage. I think the correlation of the North American scheme with the Alpine scheme probably doesn't fit exactly.

It is very difficult to range a Tuvalian fauna exactly.

Probably Tuvalian 1 is recognizable in the Alps only by the composition of the faunal spectrum (the quantity of some special genera). In some „lenses", Trachysagenites sp. Sagenites inermis, Sandlingites sp. occur very frequently together with scarce Tropites sp. and Sirenites sp. and with very rarely Neoprotrachyceras cf. thyrae.

Therefore it seems important to me to get a survey of a Tuvalian fauna in a lens or fissure filling. A good way to do this is to write a fossil list of each block found. The best way, in my opinion, is to prep out and expose as many ammonoids as possible and leave them on the block.

In this way one can recognize later possible errors and study the sedimentary features of this block.

Marking down and upside should be done if possible.

Even on small pieces you can recognize a current setting with this method.


A small slab (6cm) with some current deposited Pamphagosirenites sp.(Tuvalian 2)

The transition (proved with ammonoids) from Tuvalian to the Norian is confirmed by science only in one location in the Hallstatt limestone. This bedded profile of a Tuvalian fauna which is overlain by a Norian fauna comes from the "Feuerkogel". In this abandoned, fully filled place the lower transition from the Julian to the Tuvalian was also evident in parts.

The next Picture shows the geologic transition of the Carnium/Norian border from another area. Between Carnium and Norium are some lenses of a strongly condensed limestone bed which yield ammonites of the late Tuvalian. The latest Tuvalian and lowermost Norian are confirmed there only by microfossils.


The rock wall at this place consists of grey limestone which begins in the aonoides/austriacum zone. Scarce ammonite lenses in this limestone point to the Tuvalian 1. In the Tuval ranged area the limestone succession is bedded as in the Norian part. In the Tuvalian part of the picture a bedding angle as in the Norian part of the picture is visible. The Tuvalian marked succession consists of a sparitic, biotic rich limestone with interfaced Halobia beds. In my opinion this is a larger area of an internal bedded lens/hollow rather than a fissure filling.


Discotropites plinii, Tuvalian III, from the above shown Carnian/Norian transition

There exist/existed four classic historical locations within the Hallstatt limestone which yield a Tuvalian ammonite fauna

The historical location on the Millibrunnkogel/Vordersandling,

the historical Tropites location on the Raschberg

and the „Tuval" area round about Hallein/Berchtesgaden.

The latest newly discovered location (at the beginning of the 20th. Century) was the Tropites location on the world famous Feuerkogel. The whole area there is a strictly protected place and the locations there are buried under tons of collecting debris.

Within the last hundred years of Triassic research in the Alps no new Tuvalian location was discovered. This fact shows how really scarce ammonite bearing Tuvalian rock occurrences are in the Hallstatt limestone.


Tuvalian fauna collected at the location "Vordersandling". Size of the embedded Tropites sp. is 1cm.


Fragments of Tropites sp. found at the historical location on the Raschberg. Size of the Tropites shell parts ca. 2cm


Block with Tuvalian fauna from the Hallein/Berchtesgaden area. Size of the Pinacoceras rex at the left on the Block is 6cm

Basinal layers/beds of the Tuvalian

After the Julian Aonoides/austriacum beds (lenses) a distinct ammonite faunal change appears in the following Tuvalian. Most of the dominant Julian genera disappear at the uppermost Julian. In the Tuvalian roughly 20 new ammonoid genera appear. One trigger for this big faunal change in the Tethys realm was the Carnian Pluvial Event (Reingraben Event). The lenses and layers of the aonoides and austriacum zone were deposited during this time span on the Hallstatt deep swells. A possible (in controversial discussion) rise in temperature of the seawater column at the end of the Julian was the last step of the faunal change.

The last subzone of the Julian is the so called „Sirenites horizon" which is difficult to recognize and determine.


Sirenites sp.2cm from a possible transition level between Julian and Tuvalian


Deformed part of the fossil lens where this fauna comes from.

Visible is the plastic deformation of the rock which resulted from motions in an early diagenetic phase.


Small slab collected at this lens. Beside frequent Sirenites sp. and Arcestes sp., Megaphyllites and Neoprotrachyceras are visible.

I found a fissure filling of clear Julian age in a tectonically stressed limestone succession below this above mentioned limestone. Remarkable in this location was a clear preponderance of Arcestes sp. which differentiates this location from other Julian locations where normally Joannites sp. is the dominant leiostrake (ammonoids with a smooth shell) genera.


Sageceras haidingeri from this above mentioned Julian location with the preponderance of Arcestes.


Sometimes historical literature speaks of the beds with Tropites subbullatus. This feature is often close to my own impressions.

In the case of ammonite bearing limestone, nearly the same Lithology is visible at all different locations.

Mostly a succession of grey to red limestone beds which include bivalve beds, rough sparitic and biogenic layers can be observed. Embedded in this succession are fissures and lenses yielding ammonites in micritic fillings.

The faunal compositions of each ammonite lens in this limestone succession changes slightly depending on the level within the succession. Generally the embedded ammonites are mostly small and often of a spherical form. Therefore it is difficult to recognise if it is a real fissure filling or a lens (because of the lens shaped cross section).


Piece from a „fissure filling" with Trachysagenites erinaceus on the top

Some of you may ask where the difference is. The most important feature of a lens is the recognition of a nearly normal deposition in which the lens is embedded. In clear fissure fillings this is not given. A fissure can strike through several much older layers in every concievable way and angle.

So it is a matter of fact that all transitions between lenses and fissures are also possible. One can imagine that it is often the personal impression of an author which tends to decide. In the case of talus blocks it is nearly impossible to determine whether a lens or fissure is given because the lateral transition is mostly lacking.


Tuvalian talus block. Fissure filling or lens?


Tuvalian deposits in which bedded ammonite layers are visible occur very scarcely. The ammonites within are mostly bigger and often preserved with body chamber. The typical hash feature of other Tuvalian lenses is lacking there.

The ocean current and the composition of the paleo seafloor lead to the different deposition of the Tuvalian locations.

If one looks carefully one can imagine the direction of the paleo current in the following picture. Most apertures of the ammonites look downwards and the small orthicone ammonoid points in the direction of the paleo current.


This untypical Tuvalian fossil slab with Tropites torquillus (big ammonite) was found in a big lens/layer location. Prep work was done from the lower side. The high biotic parts of normal Tuvalian rock are mostly lacking in such big lenses. The ammonites at this location are dissolved on the upper side and were embedded in a strongly condensed limestone succession which laterally runs out after several meters. Also the ammonites were bigger and preserved with body chamber in such big lenses. Some layers are enriched with crinoid stem fragments.


Rock from above mentioned location with a visible curve of an ammonite.


Tuvalian slab showing a juvenile Discotropites sandlingense from a typical Tuvalian hash lens.

How to find the historical locations?

Searching for old locations in historical literature has its own thrill. Finding such spots after having completed preparatory research is a very pleasant and pleasing experience. I found the historical location on the Raschberg Mountain, which was unknown to me, years ago after a long search in the field. The old location was only visible through a small man made hollow on the ground which was only discernable with a large amount of fantasy. Because of the fitting of the surrounding limestone with other Tuvalian locations known by me, I looked closer and thereby discovered it.

Such adventures make geological history alive and one gets plenty of experience and knowledge.


Old hand-made drilling hole at an historical Tuvalian location. This is visible by the oval cross-section of the hole, which was created by the continual pendulating of the driller-chisel by hand.

Smaller pieces can still be found at the historical locations. But only when the location is well known and when one is willing to hike for a few hours.

The most important rule for collecting this limestone is the fact that there are no rules! Everything is possible. The whole Tuvalian can be only a few meters thick at one point and then a few steps farther on its thickness can multiply enormously. Thickening and thinning out of limestone beds within very short distances are the normal case. The paleo relief of this former Triassic ocean floor was too narrow spaced and too differentiated for the deposition of an undisturbed succession of limestone. Therefore a correct stratigraphic succession exists only on paper.

This was a modest view into my special world of collecting. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I thank Fossil Forum member Ludwigia for correcting my uncivil kind of English.




KRYSTYN, L. Zur Ammoniten und Conodonten-Stratigraphie der Hallstätter Obertrias(Salzkammergut, Österreich), Verh.Geol. B.-A., Wien 1973

KRYSTYN, L. und SCHLAGER, W., 1971 : Der Stratotyp des Tuval. — Annales Inst. Geol. Publ. Hungarici,. 54(2), 591-605, 5 Abb., Budapest

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1893: Die Cephalopoden der Hallstätter Kalke, Abhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Geologischen Reichsanstalt, II Band, Wien 1893

TOZER, E. T. 1994. Canadian Triassic ammonoid

Faunas. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin, 467,


The Global Triassic.- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 41, 59-67. ... Hornung, T., Spatzenegger, A. & Joachimski M.M. (2007): Multistratigraphy of condensed ammonoid beds of the …


The Zones of Austrotrachyceras austriacum and Trachyceras aonoides, Triassic/Karnium/Julium of the Alps

Written by Andreas Spatzenegger

Dear Fossil Forum members!

This report will introduce you to the ammonite-zones of Trachyceras aonoides and Trachyceras austriacum within the Hallstatt limestone in Austria. Both zones are ammonoid zones of the Julian, which is the lower stage of the Carnian. These two zones are comparable with the North American Desatoyense (in most parts), Obesum and Nanseni zone of the lower Carnian.

During a long lasting time of collecting every collector gets plenty of pictures which will be worth showing to a broader collecting community. In this report I will show you a few of these rare in situ pictures and in contrast pictures of prepared stuff. All exclusively from these zones of the Triassic Hallstatt limestone.



A snap shot of a typical Triassic area of the "Salzkammergut" in Austria.

Everyone should stop just looking at the ground. The fantastic landscape opens everyone's heart for sure. All rock, visible on the picture, is of Triassic age and could bear fossils. But it is much more difficult to find some fossils there in reality. The main parts of this limestone do not generally bear fossils (except microfossils).

In the Alpine Triassic "Hallstatt limestone" ammonites are generally not so common. The limestone is only partly enriched in some places with ammonoids, in so called "lenses" and fissure fillings. Often very small in size and therefore soon exploited.I have been search for 15 years in this limestone. The pictures shown here are highlights of 15 years of intensive collecting. In this limestone no prominent layers or horizons exist which can guarantee you shall find fossils. The next point is the alpine area. Hiking for hours to reach a location and perhaps find nothing isn't also everyones affair.

Hallstatt limestone deep swell facies originate from a stagnating and minimal rate of sedimentation. In the "Hallstatt limestone" the fossil lenses of the aonoides and austriacum zone were deposited in depressions / hollows or fissures of the former sea floor, which were the result of a highly mobile palaeomorphology and of a very strong condensation for a long time span. The thickness of the layers can reach from almost zero to a few meters. Only in some places the conditions were right for depositing fossils. To find these spots is the high art of collecting in this limestone. Such spots (hollows/depressions) of the paleo seafloor were enriched with ammonoids, bivalves, crinoid ossicles and other fossils by deep water currents. Because of the common lens shape (in cross-section) of these fossil accumulations they are now called fossil "lenses". This term was introduced by Mojsisovics in the 19th century.

Sometimes a more or less prominent marl layer (so called Reingraben shales=Carnian pluvial event) can separate the aonoides and the austriacum zone. In paleobasin areas the marls of the Reingraben shales can substitute the limestone facies of this time interval. The Ammonites within these lenses are mostly very well preserved by ferromanganese encrusting. Also observable is often a current alignment. In some spots I found big Johannites sp., Orthoceras sp. and big Nautiloids at the beginning of a lens, followed by middle sized ammonoids with sculpture(Trachyceras, Cladiscites, etc) in the more central part and at the end only Pompeckjites layeri (=smaller Carnian Pinacoceratidae) which were sloping towards each other.

Fig.2.pdf - Adobe Reader.bmp


Trachyceras aonoides MOJS, 1869

Fig.3.pdf - Adobe Reader (Small).bmp


Trachyceras (Austrotrachyceras) austriacum MOJS

Austriacum-Zone, Feuerkogel, Mojs. Tafel 184, Fig 1



Outcrop of a fossil lens from the aonoides zone with visible ammonoid cross-sections and layers. The vertical fissures are of tectonic origin and it is often very helpful in collecting such spots because the thickness of such "lens" layers can reach up to 1m. Natural picture size is 50x30cm



Nautilus sp. of the aonoides zone. You can imagine how difficult it is to find something in this mossy and overgrown rock. I found this location only by searching for the right rock feature of this zone. This helped me to border off a smaller area in which I looked very closely with my nose on the ground until I hit this lens. The years before I passed this place about 10 times or more but I didn't recognise even a trace of an ammonite there.



Ammonoids from the outcrop described above. The ammonoids come from the stratigraphically lower part of the aonoides zone. Exactly dated with conodonts. The polished Nautilus corresponds to the outcrop picture shown above.



Prepared block with big Nautilus bullatus MOJS.( 25 cm) on the left side. A rough rule says that the greyer the limestone colour the worse is the preservation. But this must not be the case for every location. You can also imagine that the palaeo current came from the upper right side of the picture.



Big Nautilus galeatus MOJS. (28cm) with Johannites sp. from another ammonoid lens where big ammonoids were frequent but not so well preserved.

A few pictures of another lens in the same formation found two years later roughly 100m distant.



My former collecting buddy "Harry" (in action), working on a tectonically steeply tilted limestone succession of the aonoides+austriacum zone. Both zones were condensed at this spot to only 40cm. Harry stopped collecting 3 years ago because of personal reasons. We were thick as thieves for over 10 years long.



View of the lens on which friend Harry is working. The ammonoids in there were very well preserved. This was the middle part of the above mentioned lens with the very scarce sculptured ammonites mostly known only from books.



Three Austrotrachyceras cf. austriacum from this part of the lens.

Snapshots of another dig in the aonoides zone.



"It will be good"



"It is good" a few minutes later



Block of the austriacum zone after 2 hours of preparation



The same limestone block after finished preparation



Only washed block from a lens of the aonoides zone.



The same block prepared from its back side. Diameter of the big Johannites (right) is 23cm

A few other common(ammonite) faunal elements of these zones

The following ammonoid species are the "normal" finds of these zones, so to speak. Mostly all ammonite species shown below reach throughout these two zones and became extinct at the end of the Julian.

Fig.18.pdf - Adobe Reader (Small).bmp


Pinacoceras (Pompeckjites) layeri HAUER, Syntypus MOJSISOVICS,E.v.1902. Abh.k.k.Geol.Reichsanst.(Suppl.-Band), 6/ 1



Mojsvarites(Monophyllites) agenor (MÜNSTER 1834)

on the right side and Pinacoceras layeriHAUER on the left side.



Hypocladiscites subtornatus MOJS. (upon right) with Mojsvarites agenor left side. Hypocladiscites subtornatus reaches up to the Tuvalian which is the uppermost Carnian stage,

Fig.21.pdf - Adobe Reader (Small).bmp


Joannites cymbiformis WULFEN

Joannites klipsteini cf. MOJSISOVICS



This picture shows several Joannites cymbiformis WULFEN and

Joannites klipsteini cf. MOJSISOVICS



Arcestes gaytani (KLIPSTEIN 1843)gsoriginal

MOJSISOVICS,E.v.1875. Abh.k.k.Geol.Reichsanst., 6/1, 2.Lief.


Fig. 24

Simonyceras simonyi HAUER

The division of the alpine upper triassic is mainly based on trachyostrake (sculptured) ammonoids such as Trachyceras sp., Sirenotrachyceras sp., Neoprotrachyceras sp. because these ammonite species show mostly short-lived occurrences.



Sirenotrachyceras subfurcatum from the aonoides zone



Sirenotrachyceras hadwigae with Coroceras naso(right upon) and small Trachyceras sp. from the aonoides Zone.

I think this report is long enough and I should stop writing now. I hope you enjojed reading this report and I was able to give you some insights on this stage and into my favourite collecting field.

Unfortunly there are less Triassic ammonoid collectors here on the fossil forum. It would be nice to discuss the differences of the Tethyan to the Northamerican Triassic ammonoid faunas with other collectors. The Anisian and Ladinian stage, which are well developed in North America, are unfortunately not very common in the Hallstatt realm at all.

Friendly regards



KRYSTYN, L. Zur Ammoniten und Conodonten-Stratigraphie der Hallstätter Obertrias(Salzkammergut, Österreich), Verh.Geol. B.-A., Wien 1973

KRYSTYN, L. und SCHLAGER, W., 1971 : Der Stratotyp des Tuval. — Annales Inst. Geol. Pubi. Hungarici,. 54(2), 591-605, 5 Abb., Budapest

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1893: Die Cephalopoden der Hallstätter Kalke, Abhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Geologischen Reichsanstalt, II Band, Wien 1893

TOZER, E. T. 1994. Canadian Triassic ammonoid

Faunas. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin, 467,


The Global Triassic.- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, 41, 59-67. ... Hornung, T., Spatzenegger, A. & Joachimski M.M. (2007): Multistratigraphy of condensed ammonoid beds of the …


Ammonites from the Zone of Cyrtopleurites bicrenatus, Nor/Alaunium1 of the Hallstatt limestone

Written by Andreas Spatzenegger


Fig. 0

The „Hohe Dachstein"

mountain with fresh fallen snow in spring;

The Dachstein is the highest mountain in the Salzkammergut area and the so called Dachstein limestone is named after this mountain.

Below the glacier, the partly forest covered mountain is named „Hirlatz". This is the type locality of the liassic „Hirlatz limestone". Down below the Hirlatz mountain, not visible on the picture, lays the small town Hallstatt on the lake of the same name. A period of the Bronze Age is named after this town with its old salt mines above on the "Salzberg". The Hallstatt limestone is named after this town too. Two old historical locations exist there above the salt mines. These are the historical location of the Sommeraukogel and the Steinbergkogel from where the first description of this limestone and its ammonoids come.

Dear Fossil Forum members

A long lasting search for a new outcrop in which the very scarce bicrenatus Zone/Alaun 1 is exposed came to an end a few years ago. Of course there are several old historical locations where this zone was exposed but after 150 years of exploration, there is not really much to find there at present. I was happy to find a new location where this scarce zone was exposed, but I had never dreamed of finding such a good one.

It all started very unspectacularly and unexpectedly.

Years ago I walked downhill from another fossil location in this area with a heavy rucksack on my back.

It was a beautiful day and I wanted to take some landscape pictures of this area. I put down my rucksack and walked a few steps beside the path.

As I was taking the pictures I looked down on the rock on which I stood. A very small cross-section of an orthicone ammonoid and a shell part of a bigger ammonite was visible. Both very unspectacular like other common cross-sections I often saw in this limestone.

My hammer was in the rucksack but I was too lazy to go back to the path and fetch it.

So I went further downwards and then drove home.

One week later I was in this area again. At noon my rucksack was full and I went prospecting for the rest of the day. My first way was to this ominous block which had been haunting my thoughts the whole week long.

I put the chisel on the block, one blow with my hammer and I recognised with one look that I had found something really special.

The ammonoid shell was a part of the weathered body chamber of a Clydonautilus noricus 30cm in diameter.

But this wasn't the best part of this block. I recognised that this block was a part of a 20 cm thick layer full of ammonites. The discovery of such a big spot I knew only from reports of the historical locations around the 19th century. The layer was totally undisturbed and untouched when I found it. No old traces of working were visible.

Nevertheless Mojsisovics has pictured ammonites from this area, fitting to this facies and layer, in his work "Das Gebirge um Hallstatt". I assumed that the in Mojs. pictured Ammonites either originated from a fallen block or that this layer had a second outcrop in this area hitherto unknown to me. If this layer would have been known in the time of Mojsisovics it would have been totally exploited like the outcrop on the Sommeraukogel where former collectors exploit the fossil bearing limestone up to a height of 6m.


Fig. 1

„Corner stone of this location", Clydonautilus noricus

with a partly strongly weathered body chamber. The mossy crack on the picture is the last Septum.



Dug out block with ammonites of this outcrop. The glove shows the natural size. The weight is 30-40 kg roughly all in all a full rucksack.



The whole fossil layer consists of several intern layers which are dissected by manganese crusts.

These crusts have strongly condensated origin. This explains also the frequent ammonoids shells. Also visible is a current parallel alignment of the ammonoid shells.

The blocks shown are 10-15cm thick and bear Ammonites also inside the limestone.

I whistled for my colleague who was also collecting near to me in this area. Together we did a first examination of the whole outcrop. Stratigraphically we weren't sure at this moment what time this layer belonged to because we had only found ammonites without sculpture.

At this time we had only scratched a little on this location but we did already have a presumption at that moment about what stratigraphic time it may have been .


Fig. 4

The most frequent ammonite on this location is Placites sp. in for this genus, enormous sizes up to 10cm.

Our next tour was directed at this location to collect there professionally. After a while the first Cyrtopleurites part occurred and we got confirmation of our former presumption. The other tours of this year brought us if at all possible to this location to collect some more at this outcrop.

If anyone should think that we have tons of material from this location at home, one and a half hours walking up to this location and a same long way down restricted the material to one rucksack a trip.

It makes no sense to carry more than 50 kg downhill in this wilderness. Everybody who has carried 40-50 kg down on his back for one and a half hours knows what I mean and knows where his physical limit is. After preparation, one third of this weight is left over. The other material is thumb stone and halves or badly preserved ammonites.

Now some ammonoids from this location


Fig. 5

Cyrtopleurites cf. socius as found, 7cm in diameter


Fig. 6

Cyrtopleurites altissimus as found. The orange circle is the cap of my drinking bottle.


Fig. 7

Prepared block with C. altissimus. From 15cm thickness prepared down to 6cm and roughly 5 to 6 badly preserved ammonites destroyed by prepping.


Fig. 8

Detail view of Cyrtopleurites altissimus, 9cm

Remarkable are crinoid roots on some ammonite shells. This leads to the presumption that the sedimentation rate was very low. The ammonoids shells lay on the seafloor for a long time without being covering by sediments and were settled by crinoid larvae.

On the hardgrounds, now indicated by manganese crusts, such roots are also visible. Ossicles of these small crinoids are visible frequently inside the red limestone.

The average diameter is 5mm. This is well visible on picture 7 and 8.

It is also visible that the Palaeo current comes from upper right in relation to the picture. The ammonites on the left side of the picture overlap each other and on the venter of the Cyrtopleurites a crinoid root stem settled with its well visible central channel.


Fig. 9

Maybe current whirls, which occur on the sloping embedded ammonoids shells, helped the crinoid larvae to settle down preferably on such places in the shadow of the current.



Visible is a Crinoid root on the last septa of a big Cladiscites neortus. Diameter of the root is 3 mm.

This shows us forensic evidence of the settlement of the crinoid larvae after the death of this ammonite. Rhacophyllites sp. is frequent with two different species. Big specimens are mostly preserved without body chamber.



Rhacophyllites neojurensis, 14cm Diameter


Fig. 12

Rhacophyllites debilis HAUER, 13cm.

More evolute and less thick than R. neojurensis. The yellow colour is due to the preparation of this ammonite from its underside. Generally this is the better preserved side but it isn't prepareable often.



Didymites cf. subglobus with Rhacophyllites neojurensis and Placites sp.

Diameter of the big Didymites is 7cm. On the left side is shown a Didymites of the same species in Venter view. Didymites occurs only in this Zone in the Hallstatt limestone and is very easy to confuse, in Form and shape, with Arcestes sp. But it has a very typical suture line which excludes confusion.



Arcestes cf. dicerus, Diameter 6cm


Fig. 15

Items after rough preparation

The preparation of these ammonoids is only possible mechanically. I work with rough and fine air chisels. After preparation I finish the ammonites with stone fluat to protect them against the acid. Then I remove drops of the stone fluat from the mother rock and treat the rock with acid until it shows its natural colour again. Then, if necessary, cover the ammonites a second time and then it's finished.


Fig. 16

Slab with Drepanites hyatti MOJS. (7cm), Rhacophyllites neojurensis and Arcestes sp.

Provisional list of Ammonoids and Nautiloids:

Arcestes cf. didymus MOJSISOVICS.

Arcestes dicerus MOJS.

Stenarcestes cf. diogenis MOJS.

Cyrtopleurites bicrenatus (HAUER1846)

C. altissimus MOJS.

C. socius MOJS. 1893

C. sp.

Cladiscites neortus MOJS.

C. beyrichi WELTER1914

C. quadratus MOJS.

Didymites tectus MOJS.


D. subglobus MOJS.

D. quenstedti MOJS.

Drepanites hyatti MOJS.

Drepanites sp.

Heraclites robustus (HAUER 1855)

Hauerites cf. rarestriatus HAUER

Orthoceras sp.

Pinacoceras cf. parma MOJS.

Placites oxyphyllum MOJS.

Placites sp.

Clydonautilus noricus MOJSISOVICS

Gonionautilus quenstedti HAUER

Nautilus. sp. (2) undet.

Rhacophyllites neojurensis (QUENSTEDT)

R. debilis HAUER



I thank Mister Michael Henz member of the German "steinkern forum" for working (dissolving, sorting and identification), on the conodonts of this fossil layer.

The internet community makes it possible that collectors of the alpine Triassic and collectors of the German „Muschelkalk" can both work together very easily. I am very glad to have this contact.

For the future I hope for a further collaboration, maybe in more interesting stratigraphic levels to both sides, like the Anisium or lower Ladinium.

We do not know for sure if our conodont nomenclature is up to the latest scientific level. The conodonts were identified through the works of Kozur and Huckriede.

Material was dissolved only from the main fossil layer.

Because of the lack of Neogondolella hallstattensis we presume that there is no part of the stratigraphic lower Juvavites magnus zone in our fossil layer condensed in too. The result of the stratigraphic occurrence of both, ammonites and conodonts fit perfectly to the ammonoid-zone of the Cyrtopleurites bicrenatus/Alaunian I.


Table 1:

1a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, side view.

1b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, down side.

1c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

2a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

2b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, down side.

2c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, side view.

3a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

3b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, side view.

4a: Metapolygnathus abneptis abneptis, down side.

4b: Metapolygnathus abneptis abneptis, upper side view.

4c: Metapolygnathus abneptis abneptis, side view.


Table 2

1a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, upper side.

1b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, upper side.

1c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, side view.

2a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, lower side.

2b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, upper side.

2c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, juvenile, side view.

3a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, lower side.

3b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

3c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, side view.

4a: Neogondolella navicula, upper side.

4b: Neogondolella navicula, lower side.

4c: Neogondolella navicula, side view.

5a: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

5b: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, upper side.

5c: Metapolygnathus spatulatus spatulatus, side view.



Drilling holes for magneto-stratigraphic aims, drilled most probably by the University of Vienna.

At the end I should mention that work on this location has ended long ago. Good material can be gained only by very great efforts because the layer runs steep into solid mother rock.

I hope you enjoyed this report and that I was able to give you a small insight into my special regional collecting field, the pelagic Triassic ammonites of the Alps.

Kind regards



HUCKRIEDE, R. (1958): Die Conodonten der mediterranen Trias und ihr stratigraphischer Wert. — Pal. Z., 32, 141-175, Stuttgart.

KOZUR, H. & MOCK, R. (1972): Neue Conodonten aus der Trias der Slowakei und ihre stratigraphische Bedeutung. — Geol. Paläont. Mitt. Innsbruck, 2, 1—20, Innsbruck

KOZUR, H(1973): Die Bedeutung der Conodonten für stratigraphische und paläogeographische Untersuchungen in der Trias. — Mitt. Ges. Geol. Bergbaustud., 212, 777—810, Innsbruck.

KRYSTYN, L. Zur Ammoniten und Conodonten-Stratigraphie der Hallstätter Obertrias(Salzkammergut, Österreich), Verh.Geol. B.-A., Wien 1973

KRYSTYN, L., SCHÄFFER, G. & SCHLAGER, W. (1971b): Der Stratotypus des Nor.- Annales Inst. Geol. Publ. Hungar., 54, 2, 607-629, 7 Abb., Budapest

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1893: Die Cephalopoden der Hallstätter Kalke, Abhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Geologischen Reichsanstalt, II Band, Wien 1893

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1896: Beiträge zur Kenntniss der obertriadischen Cephalopoden Faunen des Himalaya, Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften Mathematisch–naturwissenschaftliche Classe, 63, 575–701. Wien 1896,

TATZREITER, F. 1981, Ammonitenfauna und Stratigraphie im höheren Nor(Alaun, Trias) der Tethys aufgrund neuer Untersuchungen in Timor, Denkschr. Österr. Akad. Wiss., math.-naturwiss. KI., 121, Wien 1981, Springer Verlag

TATZREITER, F. 1985. Zur Kenntnis der obertriadischen (Nor; Alaun, Sevat) trachyostraken Ammonoideen Jb. Geol. B.-A. ISSN 0016-7800 Band 128 Heft 2 S.219-226 Wien, Oktober 1985, 8 Abbildungen

TATZREITER,F. 1984: Bericht über paläontologische Untersuchungen in Hallstätterkalken auf Blatt 76 Wr. Neustadt und 96 Bad Ischl. - Jb. Geol. B.-A., 128/2, Wien 1985

TOZER, E. T. 1994. Canadian Triassic ammonoid faunas. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin, 467, 1–663.


The columbianus Zone/Alaunium 2/ Norium/Upper Triassic in the so called "Hallstatt Limestone" of the Northern Calcareous Alps in Austria

Dear Fossil Forum members!

This pictured report about the ammonite bearing Triassic Hallstatt limestone will be the first one of a continuous series of reports.

Since the beginning of the geological research in the Northern Calcareous Alps of Austria in the 19th century, about 500 species of Triassic ammonites have been described from the Hallstatt limestone by Mojsisovics, Hauer, Diener and other authors.

The most important person in the development of the first Alpine Triassic ammonoid biostratigraphy was the Austrian palaeontologist Edmund von Mojsisovics. When viewing his classical monographs one is overwhelmed by the stunning Lithographics created by the artists of the late 19th century. Every recent serious triassic ammonoid researcher includes these old works in the standard literature of triassic ammonoids. Unfortunely his ammonoid bio-chronostratigraphic scale had some mistakes (changed zones) especially the incorrect stratigraphic position of some ammonoid zones in the Norian stage. It was the merit of E.T. Tozer to discover this weakness and to correct it. Hallstatt limestone facies is a type of triassic Ammonitico Rosso facies which also occurs in several other locations all over the world.

The Hallstatt Limestone Facies of Austria consists typically of red to grey –coloured, in some parts abundantly fossiliferous limestones locally interbedded with marls. Also strongly condensed successions are common. Fossils mostly do not occur in continuous layers but in so called lenses and fissure fillings.

The most common fossils are Ammonoids and Nautiloids, but Crinoids ossicles, Bivalves, Conodonts and Gastropods also occur.

In this report I will introduce you to the Triassic ammonoid zone of the Alaunium 2 /Norium/ Upper Triassic of the Hallstatt formation.

The stratigraphic level lower Alaunium 1 will be shown in a future report.


Fig.1 A very beautiful view of a tectonic border. The Valley in front marks the tectonic border between the mainly Triassic Hallstatt unit und the Tirolikum unit of the Totengebirgs nappe. The highest mountain shown on the picture is the "Loser". The well bedded limestone in the summit area are of Jurassic age. This is in turn resting on Triassic "Dachstein" limestone that ends roughly in the middle of the picture.

The name of this stage was chosen by Mojsisovics after the Celtic folk of the Alauns.

In historical times this tribe lived in the forelands of the calcareous Alps in the area of the later Roman province Noricum.

Zone ammonite of the Alaunium 2, outside of the Tethys realm, is Mesohimavatites columbianus Mc LEARN, well known from the boreal Triassic of British Columbia in Canada.

In the Tethys realm the whole Alaunium is split into three subdivisions.

Alaunium 1 = Bicrenatus -Zone,

Alaunium 2 = (instead Columbianus) Hogarti- Zone,

Alaunium 3 = (instead Columbianus) Macer -Zone

The subzones I-IV shown in the timescale below were established after bed by bed collections in the well-bedded erratic limestone blocks of Timor by the Austrian geologist Franz Tatzreiter.



In the Hallstatt limestone of the northern calcareous Alps, Himavatites sp. occurs very scarcely. It is impossible to use this genus for Stratigraphic aims on new detected locations. A normal collector could use the following rough scheme to insert ammonoids in the right stratigraphic subzone. But notice that strong condensation, fissure filling etc. can blur this schema. For a newbie collector it is much more difficult to find some fossils there at all. To place them into the right ammonoid zone is the easier part of the exercise.

Rough scheme, to place ammonoids into the right subzones of the Alaunium 2 in the Hallstatt limestone.

Subzone I+II: Distichites (especiallys in II) but no Halorites,

Subzone III: Halorites starts, Distichites can be found too, but ends in this subzone,

Subzone IV: Halorites frequent, main zone of „catenate Halorites" especially in the later time of this subzone.

In the upper sphere of subzone 3 and in the lower sphere of subzone 4 Halorites sp. is a very common faunal element. In locations which expose this time interval Halorites is more common than other leiostraca (=ammonoids without sculpture) ammonoids like Arcestes sp. The often used term Halorites horizon (KRYSTYN, L., 1973) points that out exactly.

Representative for the family of the Haloritidae, is shown Halorites ramsaueri (QUENST.),.Sommeraukogel, MOJSISOVICS (Bd. II), Wien 1893, Tafel 71, 76 und 77.



The venter views laterally right show the variability of the end living chamber (after pictures by MOJSISOVICS Bd. II, Wien 1893) of Halorites ramsaueri QUENST.

The right venter view could also be termed as a Halorites macer.

The difference between H. macer and H. ramsaueri is not clear due to the great variability of these two species and is totally questionable in my opinion.



Catenohalorites catenatus BUCH form MOJSISOVICS (Bd. II), Wien 1893

To the genus „Catenohalorites" count all species of Halorites, which show the chain like („catenat") arranged nodes of the inner whorls on the phragmocon too. (The inner whorls are more or less catenat by all Halorites sp.)

Historical locations

Beside the well known historical location of the Sommeraukogel, which exposed all four subzones, there are several other historical locations. For example: Hallein, Hoher Student, Leisling, Pötschenhöhe, Rossmoos and Röthelstein.

Years ago I was lucky to find a talus block in an area of such an historical location. Later in this report I will show the ammonoids of this block.

Two new faunas shown here in this report came from locations hitherto not yet described.

Fauna 1

The first new location is in an area where the normal succession of limestone is penetrated by fractures with fissure filling and reworked horizons. One reworked horizon (not for sure yet, it could also be an untypical fissure filling) shows a Halorites fauna. Two nearby located, clear fissure fillings show a faunal association with Distichites but without Halorites. A shell fragment of a Himavatites sp. in the Distichites fissure may confirm the higher hogarti zone.

One highlight of the Halorites location was the discovering of a Bambanagites MOJS. 1896. This is the first evidence of this genus in the Hallstatt realm.

So far Bambanagites is yet only known from the Halorites limestone of the Bambanag- succession on Niti- Pass (Himalaya) in India, described by MOJSISOVICS with two species (B. schlagintweiti MOJS. and B. dieneri MOJS)

In Dieners work, „Fauna of the Tropites-Limestone of Byans", another species, B. kraffti DIENER, is described. The Venter of B. kraffti is very sharp with only weak waves on the flank. Further research on Bambanagites (member of the family Pinacoceratidae) resulted in no other location/occurrence than the above mentioned location in India. Maybe Bambanagites occurs also in the Triassic of Timor. I haven't found any citation but judging by the frequent occurrence of fauna of alaunian ammonites there, it could be possible to find some.


Fig 5 Bambanagites cf. dieneri MOJS. a first evidence in the Hallstatt limestone of the eastern Alps, possibly a worldwide first evidence outside the type locality in India. blogentry-2660-0-86762500-1298490377.jpg

Fig.6 Bambanagites Dieneri, MOJSISOVICS 1896 .Cephalopoden der oberen Trias des Himalaya Taf. XVIII, Fig. 3 - 6.

The impression of the Bambanagites sp. is on the backside of this slab with Halorites cf. macer MOJS.(8cm) on the following picture


Fig.7 Halorites cf. macer MOJS. found in the location together with Bambanagites


Fig.8 Halorites sp. with very prominent nodes on the venter


Fig.9 Washed block from this location, with visible Halorites sp. Several other ammonoid species are also visible on this block which are frequent in the Alaunium 2. Rhacophyllites neojurensis QUENST. , Placites sp,, Halorites div. sp., Arcestes sp., Leislingites sp., Megaphyllites sp., Paracladiscites multilobatus BRONN., Steinmannites hoernesi HAUER, Alloclionites ares MOJS

It is further worth a mention about the occurrence of the Ammonite genus. cf. Psamateiceras in this location. Natural picture size is 45cm.

Other important ammonoid species of the macer zone

A beautiful, conspicuous faunal element of the macer zone is Steinmannites sp.

With different species this genus shows its maximum in this zone and was found relatively frequently in this location within the Halorites location.



Steinmannites hoernesi (HAUER) from the Halorites-area in compairson with a



cf. Eosteinmannites sp. from the Distichites-area of this location.



? cf. Pseudosirenites sp.(3cm) or cf. Mesohimavatites sp. from the Halorites-area



Paracladiscites multilobatus BRONN. (5cm)

Another frequent faunal element of the Alaunium 2 is Paracladiscites multilobatus BRONN. This species differs from Cladiscites and Hypocladiscites by the absence of the spiral striations. Only fine radial growth lines are visible on the shell.

The genus Paracladiscites reaches throughout the whole columbianus- Zone up to the zone of Sagenites reticulatus/Cochloceras/Paracochloceras (Sevat2)




Distichites megacanthus MOJS. from the Distichites area of this location.



Venter view of Distichites megacanthus MOJS. Diameter is 19 cm; this is rather the growth limit of this species.

Distichites sp. is easy to determine by the two bulges following the venter furrow



Distichites cf. kmetyi (8cm) of this location

Distichites were found in different species at this location but very scarcely. From 30-40 other ammonite's roughly one piece of Distichites sp. was found. Most common ammonites are Placites and Arcestes.



Rhacophyllites neojurensis QUENST. (7cm) from the Distichites-area

Rhacophyllites sp. runs up to the Sevat

Fauna 2

The second new location comes from another area and is also a reworked horizon. This horizon is associated to a small tectonic fault which strikes through the surrounding normal-bedded limestone at a low angle.

This zone of weakness may have already been active at the time of the limestone sedimentation and may have worked as a trap for fossils. The stratigraphic lower part (compared to the surrounding limestone beds) of this horizon bears big Halorites cf. ramsaueri embedded in micritic red limestone which was tectonically stressed. In the stratigraphic younger part of this horizon, compared to the normal-bedded surrounding limestone beds, sparitic fissure filling is given in which abundant small ammonoids and gastropods are embedded. According to the occurrence of scarce Sagenites sp. small catenate Halorites and small Hydrozoans, this sparitic part of the fissure filling dates into the subzone IV (after Tatzreiter).



Cross-section of a Rhacophyllites neojurensis QUENST. In situ picture from the white sparitic filled stratigraphic upper part of the fissure.

Natural size of the picture ca.30x25cm

The left side of the picture shows how unspectacular the weathered rock looks, although the mossy vegetation has been removed before by hand.



Gastropoda and Halorites-core (1cm), embedded in white calcite.


Fig. 20

Slab with Steinmannites hoernesi HAUER, Paracladiscites multilobatus BRONN, Arcestes sp., Placites sp. und Leislingites sp., within white calcite embedded red limestone lithoclasts of the stratigraphic upper part of the fissure.

Slab size is 16cm



Visible Halorites sp. end body chamber from the stratigraphic lower part of this fissure.



Block from the tectonically stressed area of this fissure. Well visible are the calcitically healed slip movements in this rock which show us a "frozen" moment during the lithification of this limestone.

Now to the aforementioned talus block of an historical location. After the first blow of the hammer a Halorites was visible. By finding an Amarassites cf. semiplicatus HAUER I was able to date the fauna of this block into the Subzone III afterTatzreiter.



Amarassites cf. semiplicatus HAUER (5cm) from the above mentioned talus block of an historical location.



Halorites sp., freshly split talus block.

Natural picture size ca.20cm

At the end of my report some pictures of another Alaunian 3 Fauna. From this location I have less material. The faunal composition differs a little bit from the above mentioned locations. New to this location is cf. Parajuvavites mercedis MOJS. and cf. ?Acanthothetidites sp.



Slab from this Alaunian fissure with cf. ? Acanthothetidites sp, („thorned"Ammonite on top, 3cm)



Paracladiscites multilobatus BRONN, Arcestes sp., Parajuvavites cf. mercedis MOJS.(ribbed ammonite) Size of slab ca. 10cm



Matrixrock of this location

Natural size on picture ca. 35cm

I hope you have enjoyed this report about my favourite collecting area. Unfortunly I cannot load up graphics. Maybe it is possible and I only do not know how to do this. Maybe somebody can help me in this case.

A special thank is given to Fossil forum member "Ludwigia" for correcting my uncivil kind of English.

Best regards



DIENER, C.: Fauna of the Tropites-limestone of Byans. In: Himalayan Fossils, Palaeontologia Indica,(ser.15) 5/1, 1-201, Calcutta 1906

KRYSTYN, L. Zur Ammoniten und Conodonten-Stratigraphie der Hallstätter Obertrias(Salzkammergut, Österreich), Verh.Geol. B.-A., Wien 1973

KRYSTYN, L., SCHÄFFER, G. & SCHLAGER, W. (1971b): Der Stratotypus des Nor.- Annales Inst. Geol. Publ. Hungar., 54, 2, 607-629, 7 Abb., Budapest

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1893: Die Cephalopoden der Hallstätter Kalke, Abhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Geologischen Reichsanstalt, II Band, Wien 1893

MOJSISOVICS, E. 1896: Beiträge zur Kenntniss der obertriadischen Cephalopoden Faunen des Himalaya, Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften

Mathematisch–naturwissenschaftliche Classe, 63, 575–701. Wien 1896,

TATZREITER, F. 1981, Ammonitenfauna und Stratigraphie im höheren Nor(Alaun, Trias) der Tethys aufgrund neuer Untersuchungen in Timor, Denkschr. Österr. Akad. Wiss., math.-naturwiss. KI., 121, Wien 1981, Springer Verlag

TATZREITER, F. 1985. Zur Kenntnis der obertriadischen (Nor; Alaun, Sevat)

trachyostraken Ammonoideen Jb. Geol. B.-A. ISSN 0016-7800 Band 128 Heft 2 S.219-226 Wien, Oktober 1985, 8 Abbildungen

TATZREITER,F. 1984: Bericht über paläontologische Untersuchungen

in Hallstätterkalken auf Blatt 76 Wr. Neustadt und

96 Bad Ischl. - Jb. Geol. B.-A., 128/2, Wien 1985

TOZER, E. T. 1994. Canadian Triassic ammonoid

faunas. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin, 467,1–663.


My Triassic Blog

Dear Visitors of my blog!

Welcome to this blog. I hope you enjoy it and have a good time staying here.

About me and my collecting area:


I am a fossil collector living in Austria. My favourite fossil collecting field are the ammonoids of the middle to upper Triassic "Hallstatt" limestone in the Northerrn Calcerous Alps. Hallstatt limestone represent a type of condensed triassic "ammonitico rosso" facies which do also occur in several other parts of the world. Greece, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia, Turkey, Oman and East Timor are the most known of them. In this blog I try to give you insight to this formation and its ammonoids.

There are two main reasons why I create this blog.

First and main reason is to share my fossil passion with other fossil lovers all over the world(especially triassic collectors)

Second reason is a selfish reason, constraining myself to polish up my rusty english and write down my thoughts, experiences and hunting trips in a foreign language.

Stratigraphic timescale of the Hallstatt limestone