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The Southern Permian basin of central Europe (Figure1) was superimposed on the Late Carboniferous Variscan foredeep. This elongated depocenter comprises several interconnected en echelon sub-basins (Silverpit/Dutch, North German, and Polish basins),where maximum thicknesses of >2000 m of German Rotliegende red beds and halites coincide with areas of Late Carboniferous-Early Permian volcanism(Ziegler, 1982, 1988). Superimposed on regional thermal subsidence, a post-Variscan dextral shear system is widely recognized, inferred from basin subsidencepatterns (Ziegler, 1990). Early Permian extrusive magmatism, located mainly at intersections of fault systems, resulted from deep crustal fracturing (Plein,1978). Related to this magmatic event, Early Permian thermal uplift apparently caused rifting and a regional stratigraphic hiatus generally referred to as the Saalian unconformity. After magmatic activity hadterminated, the central portions of this future SouthernPermian basin began to subside thermally and Rotliegende deposition was initiated within grabensystems (Drong et al., 1982; Gast, 1988). Acceleratedthermal subsidence during the Late Permian wasaccompanied with an increasing depositional area, sedimentation on lapping, and overstepping of the southern and western margins of the large basin. With a basin floor that was below global sea level, rapid flooding of this large intracontinental closed basin occurred during the Zechstein marine transgression(Glennie and Buller, 1983).

Both biostratigraphy (Schneider, 1988; Hoffmannand Kamps, 1989;Gebhardt et al., 1991;Gebhardt, 1988,1994; Gebhardt and Plein, 1995; Schneider et al., 1995)and magnetostratigraphy (Lutzner and Menning, 1980;Menning, 1986, 1994; Menning et al., 1988) indicate a Tatarian age for the upper Rotliegende (Figure 2) of the North German basin (NGB), designated as the centralpart of the Southern Permian

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