Tectonically controlled lakes may experience a complex history of deposition and subsidence, which can influence their ecology and environment. To correlate controls on sedimentation with changes in vegetation within a small pull-apart basin at ‘Grube Prinz von Hessen’ (Hessen, Germany) during Paleogene greenhouse conditions, 47 core samples were analysed palynologically. The Lower Eocene succession includes 34 m of clastic sediments overlain by 54 m of massive mudstone, finely laminated bituminous claystone and lignite. A fluvial–lacustrine and a profundal (deep lake) facies association are distinguished. Statistical analysis of the diverse and well-preserved palynoflora reveals five distinct associations. Throughout the sedimentary record there is a strong correlation between major changes in vegetation and lithology, which were controlled mainly by changes in humidity together with tectonic activity, which led to lake basin subsidence and a rise in lake level. Based on the association of pollen and spores, which are typical for the Lower Eocene, it can be shown that the basin is older than previously assumed.

Supplementary material: A complete list of variables and palynomorphs used for pollen diagrams and statistical analyses, as well as their abundance percentages, is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4108016

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