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Stratigraphy and depositional environments of the Late Famennian (Late Devonian) of Southern Belgium and characterization of the Strud locality

  • JULIEN DENAYER (a1) (a2), CYRILLE PRESTIANNI (a1) (a3), PIERRE GUERIAU (a4) (a5), SÉBASTIEN OLIVE (a1) (a3) and GAËL CLÉMENT (a4)...

The Famennian (Upper Devonian, c. 372 to 359 Ma) strata of Belgium have recently received much attention after the discoveries of early tetrapod remains and outstandingly preserved continental arthropods. The Strud locality has yielded a diverse flora and fauna including seed-plants, tetrapods, various placoderm, actinopterygian, acanthodian and sarcopterygian fishes, crustaceans (anostracans, notostracans, conchostracans and decapods) and a putative complete insect. This fossil assemblage is one of the oldest continental – probably fresh-water – ecosystems with a considerable vertebrate and invertebrate diversity. The study of the palaeoenvironment of the Strud locality is crucial because it records one of the earliest and most important phases of tetrapod evolution that took place after their emergence but before their terrestrialization. It raises the question of environmental and ecological conditions for the Devonian aquatic ecosystem and the selection pressures occurring at the onset of tetrapod terrestrialization. The present study characterized the fluvial facies of the Upper Famennian sedimentary rocks of Strud and the surrounding areas. The exceptional preservation of arthropods and plants in the main fossiliferous layers is explained by rapid burial in the fine-grained sediment of the quiet and confined flood plain environment. Newly investigated fossiliferous sections in the Meuse–Samson area led to the description and correlation of key sections (Strud, Wierde and Jausse sections, complemented by the less continuous Haltinne, Huy and Coutisse sections). Moreover, the investigated sections allowed a review of the age of the fossiliferous horizon, which is now definitely considered to be Late Famennian in age.

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