The rise of applied micropalaeontology
The chalk facies dominates Upper Cretaceous strata in the Anglo-Paris Basin, northern Germany, Poland, southern Sweden, Denmark and the North Sea Basin. The very name of the Cretaceous is derived from ‘creta’, the Latin word for chalk. It is unsurprising, therefore, that some of the earliest uses of micropalaeontology in France and the United Kingdom was to determine the biostratigraphy of the chalk: by Alcide d’Orbigny in France and by staff of the (British) Geological Survey in the UK. This approach was extended, in the 1940s, to the analysis of on-shore, and then offshore, hydrocarbon exploration wells. The continuing interest in the foraminifera of the chalk can be linked to the site investigation for the Channel Tunnel, construction of the Thames Barrier and the development of chalk oilfields in the North Sea Basin. Supporting these interests is a body of research aimed at the understanding of both the overall biostratigraphy of the chalk and some of the key bio-events of the Late Cretaceous: most notably the Cenomanian/Turonian boundary event (OAE ll) and the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.