Evaporites characterize the Lopingian of Europe, but present obstacles for biostratigraphic analysis. We present a case study for processing the Lopingian Zechstein Group evaporites of central-western Europe for the recovery of palynomorph assemblages. We demonstrate that full recovery is easily achieved, with two main modes of palynomorph preservation observed: palynomorphs are either exceptionally well-preserved and orange–brown in colour, or poorly preserved, brown–black, opaque and fragmented. The latter are reminiscent of palynomorphs of high thermal maturity. However, we propose that the intact nature of preservation is a result of the rapid growth of near-surface halite crystals, with their darkening a consequence of locally enhanced heat flux due to the relatively high thermal conductivity of salt. This case study has enabled novel insights into an otherwise undescribed environment and demonstrates the utility and possibility of extracting palynomorphs from a variety of rock salt types. This method should be applicable to a wide range of ancient evaporites and could also be applied to other Permian evaporite systems, which are used as analogues for extraterrestrial environments.

You do not currently have access to this article.