The Plio-Pleistocene succession in the Lower Rhine Embayment was subjected to a thorough revision of existing stratigraphic concepts. The deposits were studied at key sites in the type area near Venlo and in the large open-cast mine Hambach in the southern part of the Lower Rhine Embayment by means of sedimentological, petrographical, as well as palaeo- and rockmagnetic methods.
The work has yielded improved insights of the drainage pattern and the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene depositional history of the region. As a result, a new comprehensive lithostratigraphical framework has been established.
Study of the succession at Hambach showed the occurrence of deposits of the Rhine, Meuse and a local river in the Lower Pleistocene part of the succession. Paleo- and rockmagnetic studies of the deposits marking the transition from Pliocene to Pleistocene indicate that the Gauss-Matuyama magnetic reversal occurs several meters above the top of the Reuver Clay at Hambach.
The study of the Lower Pleistocene succession in the type area has confirmed the recently new established lithostratigraphic framework of the Netherlands. As a consequence, the previous Dutch lithostratigraphic system which forms the basis of the chronostratigraphic subdivision of the Pliocene and Early Pleistocene of NW Europe has been proven to be inappropriate and should be abandoned. This chronostratigraphic framework is based on the interpretation of palynological data and was first established in the Netherlands during the 1960s. The new lithostratigraphic concept has revealed numerous contradictions with the chronostratigraphic framework. Based on these results it is proposed to abandon the chronostratigraphic subdivision of the Early Pleistocene in northwestern Europe.