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Abstract

The Zechstein salt deposits of middle and northern Germany were laid down in a sinking basin in which sinking came to an end during the Jurassic, except in northern Germany, where it persisted into the late Tertiary. The beds deposited in this basin were involved in the Saxon mountain-building movements, which contrast with the older, Variscan movements in being intermediate in character between folding and block faulting. The Saxon movements were periodic and not continuous. That the movements were due to compressive thrust is shown by the fact that the “horsts” were uplifted.

The salt bodies are found in the form of “salt beds,” “salt anticlines,” and “salt stocks.” “Salt anticlines” are normal anticlines both in the form and inner structure of the salt and in the structure of the sedimentary cover. The “salt stocks” are strongly folded, subcircular to elongated masses of salt which are upthrust into faulted rather than folded adjacent formations.

The main theories proposed to explain the upthrust of the salt are three: Lachmann's “atectonic” theory, the “isostatic” theory, and the theory of upthrust by lateral thrust. Lachmann's “atectonic” theory of upthrust of the salt by an inherent autoplastic force is no longer current. The formation of the salt anticlines by the compressive thrust of the Saxon orogenic movements is very generally accepted by German geologists. But as there is every gradation in form between the characteristic salt anticline and characteristic salt stock, as the gradation from one to the other can be followed on the same anticlinal axis, and as with a rare exception the periods of movement in the salt stocks coincide with the periods of the Saxon orogenic movements, it seems reasonable to believe that all have been caused by the same force. The difference in the resulting forms is due rather to the difference in the materials acted upon than to difference in the forces acting. The salt is more plastic and therefore more mobile than the ordinary sedimentary rocks, and is therefore the more easily deformed. Under intensive deformation, it advances far ahead of the other rocks, and thus a salt stock is the extreme form of an anticlinal core. The tectonics of salt upthrust are therefore a phase of the tectonics of mobile materials and are intermediate between the normal tectonics of folding and the tectonics of magmatic intrusion.

D. C. B.

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