A UNIQUE JEWEL FROM SALZBURG
THE HISTORY OF SALZBURG CORAL MARBLE
Salzburg Coral Marble is sedimentary rock, created about 240 to 190 million years ago in a 20 to 25 degrees Celsius warm “Mediterranean” sea within the vast super- continent, Pangaea. Today scientists call this sea the Tethys Ocean, with shores reaching from the – then non-existing – Alps to the Pacific Ocean. The coral pieces which give the marble its characteristic patterns (drop shape at cross-section; longitudinal shape at bevel cut) were formed out of many a billion little animals, which set with the lime scaffolds of new corals, creating shrub-and tree-like coral blocks. Beside these corals prospered echinoderms, sea lilies, gastropods, bivalve mollusks, ammonites, as well as the unique Dachstein fossil megalodont, with its typical cattle footprint-shape, able to reach an impressive size.
This Triassic period offered also an outstanding maritime fauna. There were long-necked plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, sharks, bony fish, and aquatic reptiles like the flat-plate turtle placochelys, grazing off the mussel reefs crushing the shells with special molars. Due to the permanent sea current, the calcareous shells and skeleton parts of animals, sea lilies and coral branches were brought together. Gradually red earth from the dry continent was added as dust or loess by wind and rain filling the cavities. Then the lime sludge and the corals hardened forming the typical multi-colored Coral Marble with its beautiful shades from creamy white to grey, green or dark red. In further periods, the continually growing climate on the continent developed flying dinosaurs with a span of 12 ft and the “primal bird” Archaeopteryx. Several spe- cies of insects dominated the land, including dragon flies with a span of 2.3 ft. There was the Dinosaurus, with a length of 33 ft and several marine dinosaurs with a length of 66 ft. All of them became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 130 to 85 million years ago. Only turtles, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and sharks survived. Preserved got also the Coral Marble, now to be found around Adnet in the sta- te of Salzburg, a witness to the forces of nature during the creation of earth. The many fossils within this marble make every geologist’s and hobby researcher’s heart beat fas- ter.
First the continental land mass including the Coral Marble moved from the south (today’s Arabia and North Africa) to the north (today’s Austria and Bavaria), then came the Alps, elevated not before the Tertiary period, 60 to 30 million years ago. Due to its formation, structure and patterns, Salzburg Coral Marble is absolutely unparalleled in the world – a unique and beautiful whim of nature.