Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone

The Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone was deposited about 155 million years ago in the Jurassic Period under very quiet and calm marine conditions. It was possibly a lagoonal environment that was protected to the north by the Bohemian Massif, to the northeast by the Mitteldeutsche Schwelle, and to the south by a shallow water platform which is now Vindelicisch Land (Barthel et. al., 1990). The lagoon also had some exchange with the Tethys Ocean, which allowed the animals into this hypersaline and anoxic lagoon where most of them died and a few became preserved. The calm quiescent environment provided one of the necessary conditions for the exceptional preservation of fossils seen in these rocks. This location has such detailed preservation of the limestones that individual beds have been named and can be traced for kilometres. The Germans call this "Plattenkalk". The term can be traced back to Roman times where plattenkalk was used for artistic drawings and building material.

This drawing shows one artists rendition of what the Solnhofen Lagoon and other lagoons that existed at that time, may have looked like during the Jurassic. The lagoon is located on the left side of the image almost near the top (modified from Barthel et. al., 1990).
This map shows estimated position of the land and oceans were located in the Jurassic Period (modified from Barthel et. al., 1990).