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Samstag, 13. Juni 2020

Brine hiking trail Bad Goisern - Hallstatt / Soleweg Bad Goisern

Bad Goisern in Salzkammergut, Saturday, 13th of June 2020

N.B. - please note that due to technical changes the platform of blogger did, I had troubles to harmonize the design of the article and for the moment I cannot find out the reasons.

After the last two and half days of exploring (Bad Goisern, The eternal wall  & Bad Ischl, around Hallstatt Lake&hike) I took a break today. Accepting that you lose energy amounts along the years is almost a painful process and I am aware that in this field I still need to do a lot of work on myself in order to avoid suffering. Suffering kills the soul and a dead soul leads to a dead body earlier in time.
Cycling to Bad Ischl und then hiking from Hallstatt up on the mountain to the ancient salt mine I crossed and followed parts of the "Soleweg" = Brine Hiking Route. I had no idea what "sole" (brine) is meaning or what a brine line (pipe) is! We are such ignorants and such snobs! We use salt every single day of our life and we have no idea how this product is coming on our table really.
Historical facts found on internet
A brine line is used to transport saline water, the brine.
Industrial salt mining and transportation is mainly done by dissolving the salt in water. This “brine” can be pumped and fed into a saline for further processing, namely for boiling. The brine pipelines that were built at the beginning of the 17th century are the oldest pipelines in the world.
The Salzalpensteig (Soleweg) is a long-distance hiking trail opened in May 2015 in Bavaria and Austria. It is supposed to trace the history of salt extraction in the region and runs over 233 km with 18 daily stages from Bavaria via Salzburg to Upper Austria. There are also a total of 26 tours for circular hikes over 7 to 50 km and several ascents and descents from historic salt cities such as Rosenheim and Traunstein or Hallstatt.
Brine tunnel with a fragment of the wooden pipe
In 2008, the tourism region Berchtesgaden-Königssee and the Bavarian state Bad Reichenhall / Bayerisch Gmain came up with the idea to connect the existent segments of the "salt routes" along brine pipes with the highlights of the regions and to form a long hiking trail.
After a feasibility study in 2009, a joint project was developed with other partners in Bavaria and Austria, which was submitted to the European Regional Development Fund INTERREG and the state of Upper Austria for funding.
Start/end points of the hiking trail are in Bavaria Prien am Chiemsee and in Austria Obertraun am Dachstein. The premium hiking trail leads through an area along with old salt extraction sites from the Chiemsee-Alpenland via the Chiemgau, Bad Reichenhall, Berchtesgaden-Königssee and the Salzburg Tennengau to the Dachstein-Salzkammergut and is intended to lead you through the history of salt extraction in the region.

There are 39 entry points into the following stages of the hiking trail: 

  1. Prien am Chiemsee-Grassau
  2. Grassau-Brachtalm
  3. Brachtalm via Hochfelln nach Bergen
  4. Bergen via Hochfelln nach Ruhpolding
  5. Ruhpolding-Inzell
  6. Inzell-Bad Reichenhall
  7. Bad Reichenhall-Bischofswiesen
  8. Bischofswiesen-Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden
  9. Ramsau-Königssee
  10. Königssee-Bad Dürrnberg
  11. Bad Dürrnberg-Golling an der Salzach
  12. Golling-Scheffau am Tennengebirge
  13. Scheffau-Abtenau
  14. Abtenau-Annaberg
  15. Annaberg-Gablonzer Hütte
  16. Gablonzer Hütte-Gosau
  17. Gosau-Bad Goisern
  18. Bad Goisern-Hallstatt-Obertraun - and here I am :-)
Karte der Soleleitung von Adrian von Riedl (1796)
Karte der Soleleitung von Adrian von Riedl (1796)
From 1595 to 1607, on behalf of Emperor Rudolf II, a brine pipeline was moved from Hallstatt Salt Mountain over the old salt works in Bad Ischl to the new Ebensee salt works (construction from 1604). It consisted of nesting hollowed tree trunks and largely used the natural slope. The brine line, which is still fully functional and used today, now consists of plastic pipes. It is considered to be the "oldest active industrial pipeline in the world", the entire brine pipeline as "the first cross-local raw material pipeline in modern industrial history" and the "exemplary crossing of the Gosaubach valley" are considered to be technical monuments of such outstanding importance that the latter also has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site (part of the cultural landscape of Hallstatt – Dachstein / Salzkammergut).
Construction history
The limited wood resources in the inner Salzkammergut no longer allowed the entire brine to be simmered in the Hallstatt Pfannhaus at the end of the 16th century. The excess brine reached the “Sulzstrenn” from Hallstatt to the brewhouse in Ischl since 1596, and from 1607 to the new brewing hut in Ebensee. The 34 km long brine pipeline was built between 1595 and 1607 under the direction of the Ischler miner Kalß. The "Sulzstrenn" was assembled from a total of around 13,000 to four and a half meter long wooden tubes.
The technical overcoming of the deep gorge, which the Gosaubach cuts into the route of the brine pipeline, was until the middle of the 18th century not solved satisfactorily. In the Gosauzwang, a pipe made of wooden tubes encased in wrought-iron rings, the brine flowed down from the right valley slope under increasing pressure and then climbed under pressure up the steep slope on the other side. The height difference was 23.4 meters. The enclosed wooden pipes and their connections only withstood this high pressure to a limited extent, so that pipe breaks frequently occurred. The decisive improvement was achieved in 1757 by saltworks master Josef Spielbichler and his experts: from this point in time, the construction of a 30-meter-high bridge over this valley cut, on which the wooden tubes now rest, made it possible for the brine to go unimpeded and in line with the natural gradient to the saltworks Ebensee can flow.
As early as 1751 and 1752, a second pipe string was laid on the entire brine line. In addition, a third pipeline was put into operation in 1756 from Hallstatt salt mountain via Ischl to Ebensee.
This morning I experienced a strange state of body and mind and I knew it will be a passive day. I don't remember to have done passive days in any of my trips and journeys, I always used every single day and every single hour of the day when I stayed in another place that the place of living! I checked in, I let the backpack in the room and went out to explore until dinner time or even later. I mostly booked with half-board services.  
I will never forget my first stay in the Austrian-German Alps back in the summer of 2001 when coming from one week of trekking through the Dolomiti Rosengarten I stayed one week in a small village - Bergwang - and I rent a mountain bike, my first contact with a mountain bike! On the 3rd from 5  full days of my stay there, I forced my good fortune and did a long ride along a lake - no idea the names or the routes now - without any water or food or money ..... I started around 9 a.m. and I was back at the hotel around 7 p.m. and I could still have the dinner, but I was extremely exhausted and I just drank four litres of orange juice and fall asleep. Next day I calculated the route: 117 km in the summer sun! Everything ached, but I took the bike and continued my explorations. Yes, I always was so wild and curios. 
So today I was lazy. Let's say "lazy" and it is OK. I stayed in the room until late to the noon hours and I tried to figure it out on the internet where could be the exact entry point on the Soleweg in Bad Goisern to Hallstatt. It was impossible to find that information. 
Picture taken from the Rudolfsturm  500 m above Hallstatt

But instead, I found this valuable information: "This trail – the Salzkammergut Soleweg - is currently completely or partially not passable. The duration of the closure is currently not foreseeable. For more information, contact the tourist office in +43 (0) 5 95095 30 at xxx or send an e-mail to hallstatt@dachstein-salzkammergut.at" 
And there are notes on the internet stating the same situation from 2018, so it is not just an accidental thing that it happens now. After you know more about the region and understand the geological facts you can also understand why the trail is subject to stay closed for a long period of time (see the text at the bottom of this article - calcareous terrain is very difficult to be controlled because it is very brittle, fragile and it is a wonder how the Austrians succeeded to build homes here and huge heavy churches and to stay here over the centuries!).
the buildings hang up one from another on the steep mountain slope ....
I found on Facebook a group named "Goisern Talk" and I asked there about the entry point. I wanted to know where it is and I wanted to go to see it, maybe to go on the trail a few hundreds of meters and then to write on the blog. It is hard to define if I was or not surprised about what happened thereafter I asked the question in the group! The harshness of Austrians was that sort of experience that shocked me from the beginning when I decided to move to this country.
     Anyway, anybody there were willing to let me know where the entry point is! "It is closed, you have anything to look for there!!!" or "Don't write on the blog about that, why do you want to animate people going there if the trail is closed and it will not be reopened soon again!!!!!" or just "It's closed, verboten!!!" and such of friendly stuff. I was horrified and after 20 minutes I left the group, I took my bike and go out for a soft ride around the place. I was decided to find that bloody entry point by good chance and without asking anybody anymore!!
I reached the centre and I went to the right. The public summer strand was open and full of people, lots of children. No masks or whatever ...... an amazing relaxed atmosphere everywhere as not Corona Virus "danger" existed at all and no lockdown could be imagined again ...... pretty "strange" - so to stay in a paradigm of a diplomatic language :-)
I left the hotel at about half past one so it was too late for any kind of big tour. After about two km I realized that I forgot my photo camera in the room and I returned to pick it  :-) as no exploration is a real exploration without my camera. Every time when I have to go back after I leave a place, spot or whatever I imagine this brings me good fortune, love, money and so. I do the same when a (black) cat crosses the road in front of me. As children, we were taught that this brings bad luck.
The first picture of today is about this house. It is obviously how the building was extended by wooden balcony and terrace and side entrance too and this kind of arhitechture is very common here. 
In front of the house you also get valuable information. It is about turnery work and how this work here is very special and named "art". It is art indeed.
A few steps further I found the small woodcutter museum. The old craftworks are still very alive in Austria and in Bad Goisern you can experience woodcutter and a traditional shoe maker (a family tradition still active from 1875 - read here).
The small museum was closed as all others in Bad Goisern, unfortunately. I could have call to let somebody coming (phone number on the door, entrance for 5 euros), but for one person I felt the effort it is not worth to let somebody coming (always still thinking from the point of view of the other person!).
At reached the Traun river and I entered the place named Gschwandt. In front of me, it was the indicator with the directions information I was looking for! So I still have a good nose, fuck asking the locals in the future, right?! (no, actually it is sad we become such idiots and this in a country and in a region where the money are mostly coming from the tourists!).
I suddenly was exactly on the Soleweg from Bad Goisern to Hallstatt (or to Bad Ischl to the right - read more here). From here the trail is well marked. I just wonder I didn't find this information in the centre of Bad Goisern ...... I maybe missed it.
The trail is mainly made for hikers, not for cyclists of course. But as it is absolutely empty, I continued my small adventure and followed it.
A few hundred metres further I found the small wooden open museum and I remembered reading about it on a blog.
The cottage is small but fine and also a very nice place to have a break if you are longer on the way.

Despite of their harsh way of being (in my perception over the last six years), the marketing strategy and the implementation of some rules are very "dearly" arranged - a strong contrast in my opinion. The Austrians love to put hearts AND imperative language in their written communication and every attempt to explain the feeling of aggressivity by using so many exclamation signs (even in a well-intended friendly e-mail from someone you know) led to offence. Here an example among thousands:
Left: "for a world full of love" - it is said to you to keep the distance due to the Corona Virus.
Right: you should understand that this is private property, so please do not enter. Zbang, otherwise I kill you!!!! :-)
The clean inside gives you really an insight over the history of the place, of the salt trail and techniques, of the labour conditions and looks of the workers. 
A pre-registered audio band in the form of a dialogue between two elderlies speaking the local dialect gives you more information in a way of a storyteller.
You see the original salt wooden pipe from the 16th century, then the pipe around 1940 and the pipe starting '70ies. The "Christina Stollen" in the picture above is still the open entry tunnel into the mine where the organized tours are starting in the summer high season (read here more).
"Hunt" aus dem Hallstätter Salzberg
you find here directly from the animal farm some products to buy such as milk, eggs, cheese, jogurt. Inside there is a small refrigerator and a list of prices. You take to the product, let the money and everybody is happy with it :-) I sometimes buy eggs in this way in Saalfelden.
I left the cottage with a sort of melancholy - no idea why! - and continued the asphalted road, 
but not for long, as the indicator shows to the right to enter the forest road. It wasn't closed as told and expected ..... so I entered the forest and soon I found a bench and another table of gastronomical information :-) 
So, you have here the detailed original way of making the "Kaiser Schmarrn" - very loved in Austria and easy to be prepared (as the dhal-bhat in Nepal is) - and the Vienna Schnitzel. You also see the butcher insight - how a cow is cut and how the parts are named.
As almost everywhere in Austria, doesn't matter if you are in a tiny village or through a forest around a big city or town you will always find plenty of educational information that is very appreciated not only by the children, but also by the adults. In most cases the information is printed in English too.
I continued the cycling as the road really seemed to be open and I also met three other guys on their bikes coming from the opposite side. As I asked them, they told me the entered the trail from Steeg. Anyway I didn't expect to reach Hallstatt today anymore. It would have been even possible to go there and back, if ......
This lets you know you still have 5,5 km until Hallstatt, so a piece of cake by bike. But remember, the trail is only for hikers, I wouldn't plan to go by bike there.
After about 2,5 km from the point I entered the forest I had the feeling I should return. I found another spot to stop and other information about the vegetation around: pictures of trees and flowers with their names and roles in nature.
Inside these tubes:
A descending road was meant to reach Steeg so at that point I was at the level of Steeg location. Despite my feeling, I continued the Soleweg, but not for long. I would appreciate that after another 500 m in front of me tones of white calcar rocks blocked the narrow forest road and at that moment I really had a strong strange feeling in the stomach and I returned so fast I could reaching the descending road to Steeg. I wanted out of the forest and this is all I can say. I didn't even took pictures anymore. It was the ancestral unconsciousness reaction of "fight or run"! And I run hitting the go back option :-) through Steeg.
It was hot, too hot as I reached Bad Goisern again. And I was hungry.
I entered the evangelic church for a short visit and I hit the centre square with its emptiness, laziness and books public cabin (for free - you can let there books and can take some if you want - another nice thing to be seen through Austria towns).
As I decided to treat me with big icecream instead of a cold big beer I experienced the same story as I had in Maria Alm some days ago.
A different region, a different ice sale person and a harsh reaction to my observation about the fact that he should use the paper napkins in front of him instead to serve the waffles without any kind of hygiene!

Salt - how long still?
With the amount of salt that is taken from the Hallstatt salt mountain in an hour, a small town could cover the entire salt needs for a year. Isn't that an overexploitation that is operated here? Later, probably too late, we realized that the supplies inside our earth are not inexhaustible. The experts have calculated that with the steadily increasing rate of mining with coal, petroleum and fissile uranium, we will be at the end when the people born today have reached the age of thirty. The total production of the Austrian salt pans, i.e. the amount of brine and salt extracted from the salt mines in Hallstatt, Bad Ischl, Altaussee and Hallein, is approximately two million cubic meters of brine and 400,000 tons of salt per year. For how much longer? Is there still salt left for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Is there salt elsewhere in Austria and is it worth mining? Should we, what has so far been unsuccessfully trying to make appeals to the world, be more economical with salt consumption and waste?

Source of the text below.
FOREGS '99 - Dachstein-Hallstatt-Salzkammergut Region

4. The Dachstein-Hallstatt-Salzkammergut Region

4.1. A brief history of geological research of the Dachstein-Hallstatt-Salzkammer- gut Region

Harald LOBITZER & Gerhard W. MANDL

Besides its unique scenic beauty, the area around Hallstatt is well known for its long

tradition in salt mining. Underground mining of rock salt - the "white gold" - commenced around 4500 years ago. Also the name "Salzkammergut" refers to the traditional economic resources of this region, the salt mining. In addition, the Salzkammergut - and in particular the region around Hallstatt and Bad Aussee - has been a classical area for geoscientific research in the Tethyan Mesozoic for over 200 years. It is recorded in early travel reports, that the salt miners of Hallstatt collected ammonites and sold them to tourists and also to museum collections. Most of the ammonites were collected in the famous red limestones of Upper Triassic age ("Hallstatt limestone"), close to the Hallstatt salt mine or from Liassic red limestones ("Hierlatz Limestone"), more rarely from "Klauskalk", a red limestone of Dogger age, both also from the surroundings of Hallstatt. Already in 1782 the Bohemian naturalist J. BOHADSCH mentions the nearby fossil-rich rock formations, in particular in the area of Gosau. Gastropods, corals, ammonites and other petrefacts from this Upper Cretaceous Gosau Group could be purchased from local commercial collectors; this is trueeven for today !

Leopold von BUCH

The first remarkable geognostic study of the Salzkammergut dates back to the year 1802, when the renowned German naturalist Leopold von BUCH published his 2-volume booklet "Geognostische Beobachtungen auf Reisen durch Deutschland und Italien" (volume 2 was published in 1809). An extensive treatise in Volume 1 entitled "Geognostische Uebersicht des Oesterreichischen Salzkammerguths" deals with observations in this region, which he carried out in part together with his fellow and mentor Alexander von HUMBOLDT in the years 1797-1799. BUCH noticed the dominance of limestone and speculated on its striking colour variations. He attributes the variations of colour to different levels in altitude of the exposed limestones: "The red colour of limestones seems more common in the deep valleys, it disappears uphill and on the summits of the mountains only white limestones are exposed, while in the intermediate altitudes they show mostly a pale smoky greyish hue". This "phenomenon" is explained by BUCH by the fact that the metal solutions which extensively stained the lower part of the limestone masses - were either not sufficient quantitatively or too heavy to follow the newly formed limestone masses to the higher altitudes. BUCH also realized the abundance of fossils in the red limestones, which never occur as individual specimens but always as clusters. As a consequence of the aforementioned concentration of red limestones in the valleys, BUCH draws the conclusion, that the rich "Fossil-Lagerstätten" are concentrated in the red limestones of the valleys, while the white limestones are widely devoid of fossils. However, besides these odd hypotheses, BUCH identified already coquinas of Pecten-like bivalves in the region of the Hallstatt salt mine (named by BRONN 1830 Halobia and Monotis) and mentions orthoceratids, ammonites and nautiloids.

BUCH also deals with the origin of limestone bedding and the reasons for varying dipping directions, the latter he attributes to variable underground conditions, which force the beds to change their striking and dipping directions. There is no evidence, that BUCH understood already the primary sedimentary or diagenetic origin of limestone bedding, respectively the effect of tectonic forces in respect to mountain building.

Of course BUCH dealt also extensively with the origin, mineralogy and the age of the Hallstatt salt mine. The discussion about the origin and age of the Haselgebirge persists up to the present and only due to more sophisticated geochemical and paleontological methods has a better understanding been obtained during the last decades. The key questions, tectonic versus sedimentary origin, respectively Permian versus Lower Triassic age will be discussed in extent during our trip to the salt mine!

BUCH showed also interest in hydrogeological questions, such as the water balance of Lake Hallstatt, where he considers hidden subsurface springs as important contributors. Last but not least, he records an earthquake in Hallstatt on March 12, 1789, which lasted 4-5 seconds. It started with a bang, while the shock wave spread from south to north, accompanied by sonorous humming.

Astonishingly enough, the pioneer paper by Leopold von BUCH (1802) did not trigger immediate further research activities, but only almost twenty years later were the next studies on this region published, showing already the considerable progress made in our science.

1821-1845: Laying the foundation-stone

The following period of research in Salzkammergut was largely dominated by the

excellence of British geoscientists. William Buckland's "Uebersicht über die Struktur der Alpen" (1821) is one of the first attempts to subdivide the "Alpenkalk" into several lithologic units. According to him the Alpenkalk comprises the complete stratigraphic sequence from the Magnesian Limestone (Upper Permian) till the Chalk (Upper Cretaceous). The evaporitic sediments of the Haselgebirge are already considered to be of Upper Permian age, the red marly sandstones (Werfen Formation) from Hallstatt are equivalent to the New Red Sandstone, while the ammonites from Hallstatt represent the Liassic.

The famous Bavarian geologist Ch. KEFERSTEIN edited a journal entitled "Teutschland, geognostisch-geologisch dargestellt". In volume 5 of this journal, KEFERSTEIN (1828) describes in detail a walking tour from Hallstatt over the Salzberg to Gosau. For him the formation of the salt and gypsum deposits occurred due to "osmotic respiration processes" within the clays. Besides this odd hypothesis, KEFERSTEIN gains merit in that he introduces the comparison of fossils as a new stratigraphic method. He studied and compared especially the fauna of Gosau with stratigraphically well dated faunas from abroad. This approach represents an enormous step forward! However, his main error was, that he considered the "Sandstone Formation" (Gosau Group) as older/underlying rock unit superimposed by the "Limestone Formation" of the Alpenkalk.

In 1828 the Bohemian born Carl Lill von LILIENBACH published his paper on "Allgemeine Lagerungsbeziehungen der Steinsalz-Lagerstätten in den Alpen". He lists many fossils, however, is very cautious about their stratigraphic significance. Subsequently there was a rapid series of publications. In 1829 the famed British geologists SEDGWICK & MURCHISON published their paper "On the Tertiary deposits of the Vale of Gosau in the Salzburg Alps", followed in 1830 by the papers by the French born Ami BOUE entitled "Description du Basin de Gosau" and by С Lill von LILIENBACH "Ein Durchschnitt aus den Alpen mit Hindeutungen auf die Karpaten". SEDGWICK & MURCHISON's paper represents the first detailed stratigraphic study of the Gosau locus classicus, however, they considered the sequence as being Tertiary in age. BOUE considers the Gosau Group as stratigraphically coeval with the Greensand. Lill von LILIENBACH's paper from 1830 represents the first attempt to subdivide the sequence of the Northern Calcareous Alps into clearly defined rock units, comparable to the present "Groups". For instance he coined the name "Werfen Shales", into which he also placed the evaporitic Haselgebirge. Lill’s paper is also fundamental as a first attempt to compare rock units of the Northern Calcareous Alps with coeval ones from the Carpathians.

The paper by SEDGWICK & MURCHISON from 1831 "A sketch of the structure of the Eastern Alps" can be considered a real milestone in the history of research of the Austrian Alps. It demonstrates the progress in the application of new methods, as for instance using fossils as useful tools in biostratigraphy, or the comparison of sequences on an European wide scale. In addition, SEDGWICK & MURCHISON were drawing a series of geo- traverses through the Eastern Alps perpendicular to the striking direction of geological units. The main axis of the Eastern Alps ("Zentralzone") was already recognized, as well as the existence of the Northern and Southern Calcareous Alps. In the Salzkammergut the British in cooperation with Lill von LILIENBACH (who accompanied them in the field), continued the subdivision of the rock units, in particular of the Alpenkalk. The red shales of the Werfen Formation were seen in close association with the evaporitic Haselgebirge. Furthermore they introduced terms such as Lower and Upper Alpine Limestone and Greensand respectively Cretaceous Deposits; all these terms were later replaced by new and more precise ones.

1846-1853: Disenchanting the Alpenkalk

For a long period the Alpenkalk was considered to be of Liassic age by some workers (especially the formation called Dachstein Limestone from 1847 onwards) and by others as being Jurassic in general. The famous German geo-scientist F.A. QUENSTEDT still believed in 1845, that the Alpenkalk represents the Neocomian - based on (incorrect) ammonite determination. The breakthrough came closer, when HAUER started detailed systematic studies of the ammonite fauna of the Hallstatt Limestone in 1846. It became more and more evident that Triassic formations contribute substantially to the sequence of the Northern Calcareous Alps. The first definite short references, regarding the important role of the Triassic in the sequence of the Northern Calcareous Alps, we owe to the Swiss geologist A.v. MORLOT, 1847 and also to HAUER, 1848. Following these initial findings, new lithostratigraphic units were defined in the following years, replacing the obsolete term Alpenkalk. In his classical paper from 1853 "Ueber die Gliederung der Trias-, Lias- und Juragebilde in den nordöstlichen Alpen" Franz von HAUER presents the following sequence for the Triassic of the Northern Calcareous Alps: Werfen Formation (including the Haselgebirge) = Buntsandstein, Guttenstein Formation = Lower Muschelkalk, Hallstatt Formation = Upper Muschelkalk, Dachsteinkalk = Lower Liassic. The Liassic age of the Hierlatz Limestone was confirmed by Eduard SUESS in 1852 while the Upper Jurassic age of the Plassen Limestone was already recognized by HAUER in 1850. The fauna of the Plassen Limestone was described by MOJSISOVICS in 1868.

The Haselgebirge - source of the "white gold"

The so called Haselgebirge is represented by a melange of evaporitic minerals - mostly rock salt - and clays. For a long time it was argued, that the primary sediments of this melange represent an environment, where biota cannot live, respectively cannot be preserved, and therefore the stratigraphic age of the Haselgebirge remained speculative.

Due to the mobility of this clay/salt mixture - diapirism included - the question of stratigraphy was still more obscured. The mineralogy of the Haselgebirge has been well studied since the last century and a tremendous amount of papers deal with genetic questions, i.e. tectonic versus sedimentary origin of the melange. Also tholeitic basalts have been found in association with the Haselgebirge (FOULLON, 1889, C.v. JOHN, 1899, GÖRGEY, 1914, SEIDL, 1927, AMPFERER, 1928, HIMMELBAUER, 1931, PETRASCHECK, 1947, SCHAUBERGER, 1949 f., ZIRKL, 1957, MEDWENITSCH, 1968, a.o.).

Concerning the stratigraphy of the Haselgebirge, a breakthrough was achieved by Wilhelm KLAUS (1953, ff.). It was already known since 1913, that in salt-clays of the North-German Zechstein sporomorphs had been found and also PETRASCHECK (1947) reports the first findings of palynomorphs in washing residues from the Haselgebirge in Hallstatt. Finally KLAUS systematically investigated all Alpine salt deposits for pollen and spores. He found, that the preservation of palynomorphs is best in pure salt and also still acceptable in the salt-clays, however, in the latter strong fragmentation of the palynomorphs can be occasionally observed. Already in his first paper concerning these investigations (1953), KLAUS proudly stated: "In the Eastern Alps palynology became the paleontology of the salt". Later on, sulfur-isotope studies (e.g. HOLSER & KAPLAN, 1966, PAK, 1974 ff.) confirmed the Upper Permian age, which KLAUS postulated, for a large part of the Haselgebirge. Recently Christoph SPÖTL was also successful in confirming, that the main part of the Haselgebirge is of Permian age and only a comparatively small portion shows an early Triassic age (SPÖTL & PAK, 1996).

Hallstatt - The Standard for the Upper Triassic Substages

The region around Hallstatt and Bad Aussee is famous for its "Fossil-Lagerstätten" in the Hallstatt Limestone Group. The Hallstatt Limestone Group comprises variegated coloured (mostly red) micritic limestones from the Upper Anisian (Schreyeralm Limestone) till the Upper Triassic Carnian and Norian Hallstatt Limestones sensu strictu. Franz von HAUER with his famous paper from 1846 "Die Cephalopoden des Salzkammergutes aus der Sammlung seiner Durchlaucht des Fürsten von Metternich" opened the Austrian participation in Mesozoic biostratigraphic research. With HAUER and later on by his contemporary, the brilliant Eduard SUESS, an incredible story of success started. In 1849, the Geologische Reichsanstalt was established and soon HAUER and SUESS jointly established a Mesozoic working group, which later on became famous as the "Viennese School of Paleontology/Geology", among them scientists such as M.V. LIPOLD, Edmund von MOJSISOVICS, Alexander BITTNER, Ferdinand STOLICZKA, Melchior NEUMAYR, Moriz HOERNES, Dionys STUR, Georg GEYER, Gustav von ARTHABER, (later also Carl DIENER), and others. However, also German scientists contributed a substantial share to early stratigraphic research in the Triassic and Liassic of Salzkammergut, as for instance GÜMBEL, KOKEN, OPPEL, ZITTEL, FRECH, and others. Even though grave stratigraphic errors still persisted, the monographic studies on Triassic ammonites by MOJSISOVICS remain unrivaled to the present day (e.g. "Das Gebirge um Hallstatt", 1873 ff. and

"Cephalopoden der mediterranen Triasprovinz", 1882). However, also the facies relations of various rock units were attracting attention, as for example in the spectacular paper by MOJSISOVICS from 1868 "Faunengebiete und Faciesgebilde der Trias-Periode in den Ostalpen". It was only about 30 years ago, that the classical profiles by MOJSISOVICS were re-investigated (e.g. KRYSTYN et al., 1969, 1971; KRYSTYN, 1973; SCHLAGER, 1969, a.o.). Since these modern studies, the complex interplay of sedimentation and synsedimentary tectonics is evident and many of the classical sections in the Hallstatt Triassic and Liassic have been shown to represent not concordant sequences, but neptunian dykes. More recently Tim TOZER from Canada has studied this fascinating period of research, which can be apostrophized as a high point in systematic- paleontological research, however, which was somehow overshadowed by insufficient understanding of the sedimentological parameters. At present, out of 13 Upper Triassic Tethyan ammonite zones, 10 are described from the Salzkammergut, respectively all Upper Triassic substages, except the Lower Carnian ones, are also defined in this region

(KRYSTYN, unpubl. Manuscript). The Salzkammergut also contains the richest Upper

Triassic ammonite sites in the world. From the Feuerkogel nearby Bad Aussee more than 500 ammonoid taxa of Carnian to Norian age have been described (HAUER, 1846 f., MOJSISOVICS, 1873 f., DIENER, 1923) and from the Sommeraukogel an additional 100 Norian ammonoid species have been described by MOJSISOVICS, 1873 ff. (KRYSTYN, I.e.).

The Dachstein Limestone

The determining rock formation of the Hallstatt region, however, is the Dachstein

Limestone, which shows exposures in the Hallstatt environs of more than 1500 m thick (e.g. Hierlatz-Wand). The classical region of the Dachstein Limestone is the large karst plateau of Mt. Dachstein (2996 m). The Dachstein Limestone is represented for the main part by well bedded "lagoonal" limestones, which are bordered to the south by a reef development (we will visit the reef-tract of the Gosaukamm and the lagoonal facies along Loser panorama road).

The plateau of Mt. Dachstein is not only the classical region of the Dachstein Limestone (name coined by Friedrich SIMONY, 1847), but is also a spectacular area of Alpine limestone karst research. Also the geomorphological studies of the Dachstein limestone karst, which represents an important water resource, are closely bound to the name Friedrich SIMONY, who dedicated his life to the study of the glacial phenomena and the influence of the atmosphere on limestone weathering in higher altitudes. The most characteristic fossils of the Dachstein Limestone are the heart-shaped cross-sections of megalodontid bivalves. Depending on the area, these conspicuous bivalve sections are called in vernacular language "lithified hearts" or "cow traces" or "red deer traces". The famous Bavarian geologist C.W. GÜMBEL (1862) was the first to give a detailed description of these characteristic bivalves in the Northern Calcareous Alps. It was also GÜMBEL, who pleaded for an Upper Triassic (Norian/Rhaetian) age of the Dachstein Limestone; before a Liassic age seemed already generally accepted!

The question, which bivalve genus or species did the "Dachstein-bivalve sensu strictu“ represent started already in the 18 century, when HACQUET (1781) and WULFEN (1793) gave the first systematic descriptions. The next generation, which dealt intensively with this "causa prima", were geo-scientists from Lombardy and Veneto, especially CATULLO, CURIONI and STOPPANI. In Switzerland Escher von der LINTH and MERIAN participated in this discussion and SCHAFHÄUTL in Bavaria. In Austria the French born all-round scientist Ami BOUE and later on Franz von HAUER dealt with this question.

Finally Leopold von TAUSCH pleaded in his monography from 1892 "Über die Bivalvengattung Conchodus und Conchodus Schwageri n.f. aus der obersten Trias der Nordalpen" for this genus to represent the one and only "Dachsteinbivalve" - the real thing sensu strictu. Several of the specimens described and figured by TAUSCH were collected in the vicinity of Hallstatt, in particular in Echernthal, Wiesberg Höhe, Mitterwand and Hierlatz. Also in modern papers by ZAPFE (1957, 1964), TICHY (1974) and VEGH-NEUBRANDT from Budapest, the species Conchodus infraliasicus is considered one of the main representatives of the "Dachstein-bivalves". Probably the last word has not yet been spoken on this (local) key question for geosciences.

Studies on carbonate facies

Two phenomena of eminent importance drew the attention of many sedimentologists to the Dachstein region, i.e. the origin of the bedding, respectively cyclicity of the lagoonal Dachstein Limestone and the phenomenon of neptunian dykes. The latter caused tremendous long lasting misinterpretations in Triassic and Liassic stratigraphy, because many of the classical ammonite localities in the Hallstatt region are bound to neptunian dykes or - in some cases - represent stratigraphic condensation of faunas (Feuerkogel).

Eduard SUESS (1888) explained the bedding, respectively cyclicity of the Dachstein Limestone, as a consequence of subaerial exposition of the beds and subsequent weathering of the bedding planes. In 1928 Kurt LEUCHS assumed, that the variegated coloured thin intercalations in the Dachstein Limestone represent a rudimentary Hallstatt facies, while SCHWARZACHER (1948) studied the Norian Hallstatt Limestone of the Steinberg- und Sommeraukogel. The well-known study by Alfred G. FISCHER (1964) on the cyclicity of the Dachstein Limestone is explained in detail in the chapter on Loserstraße road cuts.

In addition, the working group led by Alfred G. FISCHER also carried out early studies of deeper water limestones by means of electron microscope in the Salzkammergut region (e.g. paper by HONJO, GARRISON & FISCHER), which opened a new dimension in lithogenetic studies.

Early micropaleontological studies

The study of rock thin-sections was probably established in England as a consequent follow-up of microtomic botanical and medical studies. In the Austrian Northern Calcareous Alps Karl PETERS was the first geoscientist to apply these new techniques. In his classical study from 1863 "Über Foraminiferen im Dachsteinkalk", PETERS reports on planktonic foraminifers ("Globigerinas") in the Dachsteinkalk of Echerntal in the vicinity of Hallstatt. Later on, the finding of these early Globigerinas was thought to be dubious by KITTL (1903), who considered the limestones to be Upper Jurassic Plassenkalk. In 1913 A. HEINRICH reports on Globigerinas in the Carnian Hallstatt-Limestone of Feuerkogel/Rötelstein, close to Bad Aussee. In more recent times Rudolf OBERHAUSER (1960) and Edith KRISTAN-TOLLMANN (1964) describe early "Globigerinas" from the Rhaetian Zlambach Marls of Salzkammergut and finally Werner FUCHS (1967, 1969, 1975) provides a systematic description of this rather neglected group of planktonic foraminifera from material from the Italian Dolomites and from the Salzkammergut region. One of the systematic groups (family Oberhauserellidae) is currently under revision by Donato DI BARI from Modena.

The region around Hallstatt and Bad Aussee is also a classical area for Triassic conodont research. The first review paper was published by the German R. HUCKRIEDE in 1958:

"Die Conodonten der mediterranen Trias und ihr stratigraphischer Wert", followed by the papers by the American L. MOSHER in 1968. MOSHER succeeded in using the evolutionary trend of platform conodonts for worldwide stratigraphic correlation. His reference sections also include the classical Upper Triassic ammonite localities Sommeraukogel and Steinberg-kogel, nearby Hallstatt, which were previously described by MOJSISOVICS. Later on, Walter С SWEET and especially Leopold KRYSTYN successfully continued this challenging work on a worldwide scale, including also the classical key sections in the Salzkammergut.

MOJSISOVICS (1903) in one of his last papers summarized his ideas of the palaeo- geographic position of the Hallstatt zones. He postulated an in situ position of the sediments of Hallstatt type deposited in "channels" cutting through the Dachstein Limestone platform.

One year later the paper of HAUG & LUGEON (1904) marks a fundamental break throughin the history of geological research in the Salzkammergut area: the concept of nappe tectonics was established. In the sequel the "nappists" entered into competition with the "autochthonists". KOBER and his school (e.g. MEDWENITSCH, 1958, TOLLMANN, 1960 and others) plead for an extreme nappism. On the other hand DIENER, LEUCHS, TRAUTH and in modern time ZANKL and SCHLAGER followed a modified version of the autochthonous concept of MOJSISOVICS. PLÖCHINGER, 1974, 1976 and SCHÄFFER, 1976 revealed the significance of Jurassic gravitative nappe movements in the Salzkammergut area for the geodynamic history of the Northern Calcareous Alps.

TOLLMANN, 1976, 1981 has briefly summarized all the contradictory models, which have been suggested to explain the complex geology of this exciting part of the Northern Calcareous Alps.

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