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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020 / The Devonian–Carboniferous boundary in Belgium and surrounding areas

Julien Denayer, Cyrille Prestianni, Bernard Mottequin, Luc Hance, and Edouard Poty (2020)

The Devonian–Carboniferous boundary in Belgium and surrounding areas

Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments.

The Devonian–Carboniferous boundary is associated with a major extinction event of the Phanerozoic. It was also a time marked by a rapid but short-lasting change in deposition called Hangenberg Event. In the Namur–Dinant Basin the uppermost Devonian (‘Strunian’) deposits recorded a third-order transgression that produced a progressive switch from coastal siliciclastic to proximal mixed deposits with an increase of the carbonate production on the ramp. Hence, the Comblain-au-Pont and lower Hastière formations are considered as the transgressive system tract, whereas the middle member of the Hastière Formation is interpreted as the highstand system tract, capped by an erosion surface corresponding to the third-order sequence boundary. Superimposed on these third-order sequences are well-marked orbitally forced precession cycles (wet–dry climate alternations) of c. 18.6 ka, appearing as irregular c. 30–80-cm-thick couplets of limestone and calcareous shale beds. The Hangenberg Black Shale Event is locally present as dark shales that likely spread over the shelf, marking the maximum flooding surface of the sequence. Before and after this event, carbonate facies rich in benthic macrofauna and microfauna continued to develop. The Hangenberg Sandstone Event, appearing as a sandstone bed in pelagic sections, is variously recorded at the base of the Hastière Formation, either as a sandy siltstone bed in proximal sections or as a horizon with limestone clasts and reworked fossils in more distal settings. The Hangenberg Sandstone Event beds occur sharply in the stratigraphic record and do not correspond to the long sea level fall of a third-order sequence boundary, but most probably to a short out-of-sequence event. The revision of the stratigraphic distribution of major fossil groups pleads for a continuous biostratigraphic succession with no obvious hiatus. The variable development of some micropalaeontological zones at the end of the Devonian is the result of complex ecobiostratigraphic interactions with the environment rather than the reflection of true hiatuses. It is marked by extinctions of Devonian taxa, concomitantly with the end of the reworking produced by the Hangenberg Sandstone Event, most probably immediately below the entry of the conodont Protognathodus kockeli. It is also coincident with the boundary between the foraminiferal zones DFZ7–MFZ1, rugose coral zones RC0–RC1 and between the palynozones LE–VI. After the short-lasting regressive phase of the Hangenberg Sandstone Event, normal depositional settings returned with the deposition of the Hastière Formation. Hence, the end of the Hangenberg Sandstone Event is proposed as the most natural proxy to pinpoint the Devonian– Carboniferous boundary.
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