The stratigraphy and fauna of the Pliocene in Belgium

The Pliocene of the North Sea Basin 
Palaeogeography of the southern North Sea Basin.
- unbroken line: present coast,   - broken line: Coast during the Pliocene,   - dotted line: Coast during the Miocene.
1 =Yerzeke,   2 =Ellewoutsdijk,   3 =Tielrode,   4 =Kallo,   5 =Antwerpen,   6 =Boechout,   7 =Kasterlee,   8 =East Anglia.
After de Henzelein (1963)
Antwerpse dokken
Dock of Antwerp
The Kattendijk Formation was described as the lowermost part of the Pliocene in the Antwerp area by De Heinzelin (1995c).
A type section (Verbindingsdok, Antwerp) and type locality (surroundings of the Kattendijkdok, Amerikadok and Lefèbvredok, Antwerp) were proposed by De Meuter & Laga (1974), who also gave a diagnosis of the deposit.
Vandenberghe et al. (1998) correlated it with the Early Zanclean, planctonic foraminifera association NPF16 (N18-19), benthic foraminifera association B10, benthic mollusc association BM22A and otholith zone 17, after Vinken (1988).
Louwye et al. (2004) studied dinoflagellate cysts of the sections Kallo (Verrebroekdok) and Doel (Deurganckdok).
They concluded that the absolute age of the part of the Kattendijk Formation exposed in these sections ranged from 5.0 to 4.7-4.4 Ma.
It consequently forms the lower part of the Zanclean, as defined by Gradstein et al. (2004), between 5.33+/-0 to 3.6+/-0 Ma.
The Luchtbal Sand Member, which was not encountered by Louwye et al. (2004) in the sections studied, should represent the upper part of the Zanclean.
The climate changed several times during the Pliocene. Leroy et al. (1999) placed the first Pliocene cooling event at 4.5 Ma in the Zanclean, so at the top part of or above the Kattendijk Formation as sampled by Louwye et all. (2004).
For the rest of the Zanclean, Leroy et all. (1999) supposed generally warmer conditions.
A second important event, besides the occurrence of colder periods, was the breakthrough of the Channel, which was placed during the Zanclean, so the Kattendijk Formation, by Van Vliet-Lanoë et all. (2002). Marquet (2004) estimated the deposition depth of the Kattendijk Formation at Kallo and Doel at m.
The Kattendijk Formation in the Antwerp area includes a lower part, with the Petaloconchus level.
Most bivalves found are single specimens, except in the Petaloconchus horizon; in this level, especially species living in crevices occur, inside the tubes of the worm-snails. Gastropods, living usually on rocks, are found frequently in this deposit. Above this horizon, bivalves occur more commonly.
The most common species are free swimming Pectinidae, while also infaunal Glycymerididae can be locally common; especially on the right Scheldt bank, they can form a compact layer.
Furthermore, Panopea specimens are found, usually in life position.
This Formation also marks the end of a mainly Miocene local evolutionary lineage of Astartidae, the genus Carinastarte.
The Luchtbal Sand Member was described as the second Pliocene deposit in Belgium by De Heinzelin (1995c) after Leriche (1912).
A type section and type locality (Second and Third Harbour Docks in Antwerp, 10 to 8 m below the natural land surface) were proposed by De Meuter & Laga (1974), who also gave a diagnosis of the deposit.
They considered it as the first part of the Lillo Formation. Vandenberghe et al. (1998) correlated it with the Late Zanclean, at +/- 3.5 million year BP, benthic foram association B11, benthic mollusc association BM22A and otholith zone 18, after Vinken (1988).
Temperatures began to decrease according to Leroy et al. (1999) just below the Zanclean-Piacenzian boundary, at 3.6 Ma, so possibly at the end of the Luchtbal Member.
The sediment changed to yellow sand without glauconite.
The Luchtbal Sand Member is characterized partly by a very dense crag of Pseudamussium gerardi single valves, which contains very few other species, except sea urchins and bryozoa.
The lowest part of this Member contains less shells, but its fauna is much more diversified and it contains very fragile bivalves, such as Pholadomya hesterna in perfect preservation.
From the Luchtbal Sand onward, the family Astartidae, and especially the genera Isocrassina and Astarte s. str., show a remarkable diversification in species and they become one of the dominant elements of the fauna.
The Oorderen Sand Member was formerly called "Sables de Kallo".
Type locality is the former village of Oorderen in the Antwerp harbour, type section is the Boudewijsluis in Antwerp, between 13.50 and 10.50 m.
- The Oorderen Sand coincides with the benthic foraminifera association B12, benthic mollusc association BM22B and otolith zone 19.
- The basal crag of this deposit could not be dated clearly at Kallo, because it contains a large number of derived fossils (4.2-2.65 Ma).
- The upper part was estimated at an age between 2.65 en 2.74 Ma.
- The cooling, started at 3.6 Ma, reached according to Leroy et al. (1999) its maximum at 3.35-3.3 Ma, followed again by increasing temperatures between 3.3 and 3.15 Ma.
- After this warm period the climate started cooling, culminating in the glacial-interglacial cycle from 2.6 Ma onward.
- The onset of the Oorderen Sand Member is marked by the appearance of Neptunea angulata, which will become one of the most common gastropod species in the rest of the Belgian Pliocene.
- The basal crag of the Oorderen Sand Member contains a mixture of all underlying faunal elements, such as Kattendijk or Luchtbal fossils, together with authochtonous ones. It is often difficult to make a difference.
- The lower part of this Member, above the crag, is characterized by the massive occurrence of the bivalve Atrina fragilis kalloensis. Specimens are preserved in erect live position in near the Kallo Sea lock, but in other parts specimens are lying flat. Blister pearls are found rarely.
- This part of the Oorderen Sand is terminated by a densely packed level of mainly Pygocardia rustica. Because of this dense occurrence, all belong in this layer to the form, while above as well as below the ordinary form is present.
- The second part of the Oorderen Sand has a more diversified fauna, in which bivalved specimens of Cultellus cultellatus however are very conspicuous in the most dense levels. They are splendidly preserved, although they are very fragile.
- The last, clayey part of the Oorderen Sand contains a crag, with many bivalve specimens of Angulus b. benedeni, a species already occurring from the basal crag of this Member, but most numerous here.
A sandy equivalent of this part is probably the Austruweel Sand Member on the right Scheldt bank, which often contains land snails.
Type locality of the Kruisschans Sand Member is the fortress of Kruisschans at Oorderen, type section is the Boudewijsluis in Antwerp, between 7.50 and 5.50 m. Its age is estimated as older than 2.6 Ma, so before the start of the last period of the Pliocene, the Gelasian. It makes part, together with the Merksem Sand Member, of the benthic foraminifera association B12, benthic mollusc association BM22C and otolith zone 19.
The Kruisschans Sand Member contains few fossils in its clayey parts, but one level is characterized by the rare species Panomya trapezoides Strauch.Also sand lenses are present and they abound with Corbula gibba gibba, which is a common species in the whole Pliocene, even already starting in the Eocene and still living. Stratigraphic marker species are Yoldia heeringi and Laevicardium (Dinocardium) parkinsoni.
The Merksem Sand Member, with type locality the Merksem suburb of Antwerpen and type section the fortress of Merksem, at 4.40 m, contains in Kallo and Doel a very impoverished fauna only, nearly exclusively consisting of Corbula gibba gibba.
In the Antwerp harbour area, the fauna is more diversified, with more gastropods. Characteristic is the enigmatic trace fossil Tasselia ordamensis.
In some localities (Berendrechtsluis) a deposit occurs, yielding very few body fossils, but a very diversified series of trace fossils, amongst others of sea urchins.
This is called the Zandvliet Sand Member, with type locality and section in the Zandvlietsluis, Antwerp.
The Campine Poederlee Formation, found in the hills around the type locality Pöederlee, contain limonitic sandstone, with casts of shells; they could be a local equivalent of the Merksem Sand Member.
The Campine Mol Formation is continental and only contains lignite remains, in a pure white sand matrix.

Stratigraphy of the Pliocene
Stratigraphy of the Pliocene in the Antwerp basis and correlation with the international stratigraphic scale;
modified after Vandenberghe et al., 1998.
I.S.U. = International Stratigraphic Units, BM = benthic molluscs, BF = benthic Foraminifera, PF = plantonic Foraminifera, O = otoliths

Correlation between English, Belgian en Netherlands Under Pleistocene and Pliocene

Marquet, R. (1984) A remarquable molluscan fauna from the Kattendijk Formation (Lower Pliocene) at Kallo (Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium) Bulletin de la Société belge de géologie T. 93: fasc. 4: pp. 335 - 345
Marquet R. (2004) Ecology and evolution of Pliocene bivalves from the Antwerp Basin. Bulletin de l'Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique, Sciences de la terre, 74-supplement: 205-212, 5 figs, 3 tables; Bruxelles-Brussel, 2004

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