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Stevns Klint Strata

Theme: Danian strata

Locality: Stevns Klint
Description of a Danish GeoSite

Primary identification

1. GeoSite no.:
GS – 2-1.  NOTE: Stevns Klint is a GeoSite under Theme 1 as well.

2. National locality no.:
NGI - 164.

3. GeoSite name:
Stevns Klint.

4. Location:
Denmark; Eastern Zealand.

5. Co-ordinates UTM:
System ED50 Zone 32, x=718895, y=6131240.

6. Type of locality:
Coastal cliff.

Primary geological features

7. Main topic:
  • Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary
  • Type locality for the Danian Stage
  • Danian bryozoan mound complexes
  • Maastrichtian chalk
  • Palaeontology
  • Geochemistry

8. Geo(morpho)logy:
The base of the succession comprises about 20 m of upper Maastrichtian benthos-rich chalk, showing irregular mounded bedding outlined by horizons of flint nodules, passing upward into benthos-poor, gently wavy to almost horizontally bedded chalk poor in flint. The member is capped by a double incipient hardground. A prominent marker band of nodular flint occurring 30–40 cm beneath the upper hardground can be followed along the whole length of the cliff. The upper hardground is overlain by uppermost Maastrichtian bryozoan chalk packstone deposited in low asymmetrical mounds. It is 4–5 m thick in the southern part of the cliff, thins gradually to the north. It is overlain by the basal Danian Fish Clay (P0 foraminifer Zone), which drapes the troughs between the mound crests and wedges out gradually towards the margin of the troughs. It is generally about 5–10 cm thick, but thicknesses up to 30 cm are recorded in the northern part of the cliff at Kulstirenden. The Fish Clay passes gradually upwards into the strongly burrowed lowermost Danian Cerithium Limestone (Pa –P1a Zones), which generally is up to 40 cm thick but reaches a thickness of 120 cm at Kulstirenden. An erosional hardground truncates the top of the Cerithium Limestone and the intervening crests of the Maastrichtian mounds. The surface is overlain by lower Danian bryozoan packstone–rudstone mound complexes (P1b–P1c Zones) outlined by thick black flint layers. Up to 18 m of bryozoan limestone are preserved beneath the Quaternary deposits forming the top of the cliff succession.
Quarries are cut the cliff at Boesdal, Holtug and Sigerslev.

9. Frame / context:
The second largest mass extinction in Phanerozoic life history took place at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, marking the end of the Mesozoic era. An extra-terrestrial cause for mass-extinction was introduced after the discovery of an iridium-anomaly at the boundary (Alvarez et al. 1980). Stevns Klint is the classical Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary locality and is one of the original iridium-discovery localities.
The bryozoan mound complexes at Stevns Klint are among the finest and best exposed in the World. Similar mound complexes are known from the subsurface in the Neogene, Pleistocene and Holocene of the Australian Bight.
Bryozoan limestone and chalk deposits form the main groundwater reservoir in the eastern part of Denmark. Chalk deposits form economically important hydrocarbon reservoirs in the North Sea area. Stevns Klint serves as an outcrop analogue for reservoir studies.

10. Chronostratigraphy:
Late Maastrichtian – Early Danian.

11. Primary value:
Stevns Klint is the classical Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary locality and constitutes the type locality for the Danian Stage (together with Fakse Kalkbrud). Stevns Klint illustrates the geometry, dimensions and architecture of mound-bedded chalk, bryozoan mound complexes, and the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary strata. A large number of detailed palaeontological, biostratigraphical, geochemical and sedimentological studies have been undertaken at the locality.

12. Comparative evaluation:
Stevns Klint displays one of the finest biogenic complexes known and is arguably the most well-exposed and geologically interesting Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. The Stevns penninsula with the cliff of Stevns is type locality of the Danian Stage.

13. Comparable GeoSites:
In Denmark: Karlby Klint (GS 2-4).

Supplementary data in support of the locality

14. Delineation on a map:

15. Higth of the GeoSite:
Coastal cliff, up to 41 m high. 14.5 km long.

16. Area of the GeoSite:
~1,5 km2.

17. Subordinate geological interests:
The scientific value, beauty and accessibility make Stevns Klint the most frequently visited geological site in Denmark by international as well as Danish scientist, students and school children.

18. "Non"-geo interests:
The beautiful white cliff with the characteristic overhang and the 1300th century church that in 1928 lost its choir in a cliff collapse is a major tourist attraction. A long line of cultural history is connected to the cliff including Neolithic flint production, old legends of the "Cliff-king", medieval building stone production from fallen blocks and last century building stone quarrying directly off the cliff face from numerous small quarries. During the last century limestone and chalk quarrying were reduced to three large quarries, one of which is still active.

19. References:
Abildgaard, S. (1759). Beskrivelse over Stevns Klint og dens naturlige Mærkværdigheder. Copenhagen.
Alvarez, W., Kauffman, E. G., Surlyk F., Alvarez, L. W., Asaro, F. & Michel, H. V. 1984: Impact Theory of Mass Extinctions and the Invertebrate Fossil Record. Science 223, 1135-1141.
Alvarez, L. W., W. Alvarez, et al. (1980). "Extraterrestrial Cause For the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction - Experimental Results and Theoretical Interpretation." Science 208(4448): 1095-1108.
Berthelsen, O. (1962). "Cheilostome Bryozoa in the Danian deposits of East Denmark." Danmarks Geologiske Undersøgelse 2(83): 290.
Birkelund, T. & Håkansson, E., 1982, The terminal Cretaceous extinction in Boreal shelf seas; a multicausal event. In: Geological implications of impacts of large asteroids and comets on the Earth., Vol. 190 (Ed. by L. T. Silver and P. H. Schultz), pp. 373-384. Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States. Special Paper - Geological Society of America.
Birkelund, T. (1993). "Ammonites from the Maastrichtian White Chalk of Denmark." Bulletin of the geological Society of Denmark 40: 33-81.
Bjerager, M. (2004). Early Danian cool-water bryozoan mounds, Stevns Klint, Denmark. Unpublished Ph.d. thesis. University of Copenhagen. 167 p.
Christensen, L. Fregerslev, S. Simonsen, A. Thiede, J. 1973: Sedimentology and depositional environment of Lower Danian fish clay from Stevns Klint, Denmark. Bulletin of the geological Society of Denmark 22, 193- 212.
Desor, E. (1847). "Sur le terrain Danien, nouvel étage de la craie." Bull. Geol. Fr. 2(4): 179-182.
Ekdale, A.A: & Bromley, R.G., 1984, Sedimentology and ichnology of the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in Denmark; implications for the causes of the terminal Cretaceous extinction. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 54(3), 681-703.
Forchhammer, G. (1825). "De geognostostiske forhold i en Deel af Sjelland og Naboeöerne." Kgl. Dan. Vid. Selsk. phys. math. Skr. 1(2): 247-280.
Frei, R. and K. M. Frei (2002). "A multi-isotopic and trace element investigation of the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary layer at Stevns Klint, Denmark - inferences for the origin and nature of siderophile and lithophile element geochemical anomalies." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 203(2): 691-708.
Frykman, P. (2001). "Spatial variability in petrophysical properties in Upper Maastrichtian chalk outcrops at Stevns Klint, Denmark." Marine and Petroleum Geology 18(10): 1041-1062.
Hansen, H. G., R; Bromley, RG; Rasmussen, KL; Vogensen, EW & Pedersen, KR (1986). "Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary spherules from Denmark, New Zealand and Spain." Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 35(1-2): 75-82.
Hansen, H. R., KL; Gwodz, R & Kunzendorf, H (1987). "Iridium-bearing carbon black at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary." Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 36: 305-314.
Hart, M. B., S. E. Feist, et al. (2004). "Reappraisal of the K-T boundary succession at Stevns Klint, Denmark." Journal of the Geological Society 161: 885-892.
Heinberg, C. 1999, Lower Danian bivalves, Stevns Klint, Denmark; continuity across the K/ T boundary. In: Biotic recoveries from mass extinctions., (Ed. by D. H. Erwin), Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 154, 87-106.
Håkansson, E. & Thomsen, E., 1999, Benthic extinction and recovery patterns at the K/ T boundary in shallow water carbonates, Denmark. In: Biotic recoveries from mass extinctions., Vol. 154 (Ed. by D. H. Erwin), Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology pp. 67-85.
Keller, G. R., E. Barrera, et al. (1993). "Gradual mass extinction, species survivorship, and long-term environmental changes across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in high latitudes." Geological Society of America Bulletin 105(8): 979-997.
Larsen, N. and Håkansson, E. 2000. Microfacies mosaics across latest Maastrichtian bryozoan mounds in Denmark. Proceedings of the 11th International Bryozoology Conference. 272-281.
Lykke-Andersen, H. and F. Surlyk (2004). "The cretaceous-palaeogene boundary at Stevns Klint, Denmark: inversion tectonics or sea-floor topography?" Journal of the Geological Society 161: 343-352.
Perch-Nielsen, K. M. (1982). "Biostratigraphic and isotope stratigrahy and the "catastrophic" extinction of calcareous nannoplankton at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary." Geological Society of America Special Paper 190: 353-370.
Puggaard, H. C. W. (1853). Deux vues géologiques pour servir á la descrition géologique du Danemark, représentant les falaises de Stevens-Klint et de Møens-Klint. Dédiées á Mr. G. Forchhammer, Prof. de Chimie, de Minéral, et de Géol./par son ancien élève C. Puggaard. Copenhagen.
Rasmussen, H. W. (1979). Crinoids, asteroids and ophiuroids in relation to the boundary. Cretaceous - Tertiaruy boundaruy events, symposium I, The Maastrichtian and Danian of Denmark.
Ravn, J. P. J. (1902). "Molluskerne i Danmarks Kridtaflejringer, I. Lamellibrachiater." De Kongelige videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabelig og Matematisk Afdeling 6. Række XI(2): 69-141.
Ravn, J. P. J. (1902). "Molluskerne i Danmarks Kridtaflejringer. Scaphopoder, Gastropoder og Cephalopoder." Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabelig og matematisk afdeling, 6. Række, XI(4): 205-270.
Ravn, J. P. J. (1903). "Molluskerne i Danmarks Kridtaflejringer. III. Stratigrafiske Undersøgelser." Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabelig og matematisk afdeling, 6. Række, 11(6): 335-446.
Ravn, J. P. J. (1927). "De irregulære Echinoider i Danmarks Kridtaflejringer." De Kongelige videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabelig og Matematisk Afdeling, 8. 11(4): 307-355.
Ravn, J. P. J. (1928). "De regulære Echinoider i Danmarks Kridtaflejringer." De Kongelige videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabelig og Matematisk Afdeling, 9. Række I(1): 1-63.
Rosenkrantz, A. (1924). "Nye Iagttagelser over Cerithiumkalken i Stevns Klint med Bemærkninger om Grænsen mellem Kridt og Tertiær." Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening 6: 28-31.
Rosenkrantz, A. (1937). "Bemærkninger om det østsjællandske Daniens Stratigrafi og Tektonik." Meddelelser fra Danmarks Geologiske Forening 9.
Rosenkrantz, A. (1939). "Faunaen i Cerithiumkalken og det hærdnede Skrivekridt i Stevns Klint." Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening 9: 509-514.
Rosenkrantz, A. (1966). "Die Senon/Dan-Grenze in Dänemark." Berichte der Deutschen Gesellschäft für Geologische Wissenschaften, Reihe A, Geologie und Paläontologie 11: 721-727.
Rosenkrantz, A. and R. H. Wienberg (1960). South-Eastern Sjælland and Mön, Denmark Guide to Excursions Nos A 42 and C 37. International Geological Congress 21., Copenhagen.
Schmitz, B., G. Keller, et al. (1992). "Stable Isotope and Foraminiferal Changes Across the Cretaceous Tertiary Boundary At Stevns-Klint, Denmark - Arguments For Long-Term Oceanic Instability Before and After Bolide-Impact Event." Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 96(3-4): 233-260.
Surlyk, F. (1972). "Morphological adaptions and population structures of the Danish chalk brachiopods (Maastrichtian, Upper Cretaceous)." Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab Biologiske Skrifter 19(2): 57pp.
Surlyk, F. (1979). Maastrichtian brachiopods from Denmark. Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary events. T. a. B. Birkelund, R.G., University of Copenhagen: 45-50.
Surlyk, F. (1980). "The Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary Event." Nature 285(5762): 187-188.
Surlyk, F. (1984). "The Maastrichtian Stage in NW Europe, and its brachiopod zonation." Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 33: 217-223.
Surlyk, F. (1997). A cool-water carbonate ramp with bryozoan mounds; Late Cretaceous-Danian of the Danish Basin. Cool-water carbonates. N. P. James and J. A. D. Clarke. Tulsa, OK, United States, SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology). 56: 293-307.
Surlyk, F. and Birkelund, T., 1977, An integrated stratigraphical study of fossil assemblages from the Maastrichtian White Chalk of northwestern Europe, in Kauffman, E. G. and Hazel, J. E., eds., Concepts and methods in biostratigraphy: Stroudsbourgh, Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross Inc., p. 257-281.
Surlyk, F, Damholt, T and Bjerager, M. in press.
Surlyk, F. and E. Håkansson (1999). Maastrichtian and Danian strata in the southeastern part of the Danish Basin. Field trip guidebook. G. K. Pedersen and L. B. Clemmensen. Copenhagen, Denmark, Geological Museum of the University of Copenhagen. 829: 29-58.Surlyk, F. & Johansen, M. B. 1984: End-Cretaceous Brachiopod Extinctions in the Chalk of Denmark. Science 223, 1174-1177

20. Data sources, collections:
Main invertebrate collections are found at The Natural History Museum of Denmark (Geological Museum), University of Copenhagen.

21. Illustrations:
  1. "Photo of Stevns Klint at Højerup"
  2. "Photo of boundary layers"
  3. "Photo of clif at Sigerslev
  4. "Photo of bryozoan mound"
  5. Simplified composite section of the succession exposed at Stevns Klint (After Surlyk 1980).
  6. Distribution of planktonic foraminifers across the K-T boundary at Stevns Klint (After Schmitz et al. 1992).
  7. Distribution of benthic foraminifers across the K-T boundary at Stevns Klint (After Schmitz et al. 1992).
  8. Stable isotope variation in mono- and polyspecific forminiferal assemblages across the K-T boundary at Stevns Klint (After Schmitz et al. 1992).
  9. Iridium, oxygen and carbon-isotope values of planktonic and benthic forminifers, and relative abundance of Ruguglobigerina rugosa across the K-T boundary at Stevns Klint (After Keller et al. 1993).
  10. "Dip section at Kirkevig and dip section north of Stevns Fyr (After Bjerager 2004).

Illustrations will be included as they become available.

22. Proposers:
Dansk Geologisk Forening and Kongelige Danske Geografiske Selskab.

23. Description by:
Tove Damholt and Finn Surlyk.

24. Recommandation:
Stevns Klint is a GeoSite.

Stevns Klint and the boundary succession may be accessed along most of the steep sea cliff and in Holtug quarry, an abandoned quarry in the northern part of the sea cliff.

26. Supplementary description:

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ÅmosenFakse QuarryMøns KlintStevns KlintTøvelde

Theme: Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary
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Last modified : Jan. 19, 2007 Erik Nygaard
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