Smart-Geology for the World’s largest fossil oyster reef

Scanning the World's largest fossil oyster reefThe dense oyster bedPreparation of the oyster shell bedOyster detailsCross section through the hinge of a giant oysterExcavation of the oyster bed in 2005Excavation of the oyster bed in 2009Some Crassostrea gryphoides shells in the exhibition of the Fossilenwelt geoteinmentpark......Three-dimensional model of a sample of the oyster bed overlapped with texture.
Scanning the World's largest fossil oyster reef
The dense oyster bed
Preparation of the oyster shell bed
Oyster details
Cross section through the hinge of a giant oyster
Excavation of the oyster bed in 2005
Excavation of the oyster bed in 2009
Some Crassostrea gryphoides shells in the exhibition of the Fossilenwelt geoteinmentpark
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Three-dimensional model of a sample of the oyster bed overlapped with texture
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26/02/16

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Video from the laser scanning campaign of the World's largest fossil oyster reef

Scientific Background

A spectacular oyster shell bed is the highlight in the geo-edutainment park "Fossilienwelt Weinviertel" at Stetten in Lower Austria. Around 16.500.000 years ago, sharks, sea-cows and fiant oysters flourished along the coasts of the Paratethys Sea. Its sediments are exposed in the Korneuburg Basin few kilometers north of Vienna. More than 650 different animals and plant species are documented from this worldwide unique fossil site. Yet, this snapshot of a Miocene ecosystem needs modern scientific analysis and interpretation.

Figure 1: left: Geography and geology of the Korneuburg Basin; the Miocene basin fill (blue). The separation into a northern and southern depocenter was already developed in Early Miocene times (Latal et al., 2006), right: artistic reconstruction of the Early Miocene estuary; the area is rotated according to the paleomagnetic data of Scholger (1998) (modified from Harzhauser et al., 2009)

Thus, the FWF project P 25883-N29 "Smart-Geology for the World’s largest fossil oyster reef" will open a new field named "Smart Geology", focusing on visualization technologies in Geology and Paleontology using Photogrammetry. The synergy of those scientific disciplines will bring us to reconstruction of event from the Early Miocene epoch caused by high-energy process of short duration, such as strong storms, underwater landslides, or tsunamis.

Figure 2: Stage 1: Crassostrea gryphoides biostrome develops and flourishes; Stage 2: the biostrome died off and was covered by sediment; venerid bivalves (Venerupis basteroti) settled the sediment; Stage 3: an undefined high-energy event exposed the shells again and formed a shell-gravel-field mixing specimens from stages 1-2. Stage 4: the oyster shells act as hardground for barnacles, sponges and oysters (Ostrea digitalina). Bioerosion alters the exposed sides of the shells. Stage 5: the shell-gravel-field becomes buried by sediment; some small areas may have acted slightly longer as hardground islands in the sandy environment (recognizable by intense bioerosion). Soon after razor clams start to settle the sand; the oyster-shells formed a barrier for these bivalves and therefore, several razor clams are found directly within the Crassostrea coquina.