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The disparate coalfields and Carboniferous rocks in this area (Figs 28 & 29), mostly comprise Coal Measures lithofacies (Pennine Coal Measures Group) and red-bed sediments (Warwickshire Group) deposited at the southern margin of the Pennine Basin, which was initiated in Westphalian times. These strata generally rest unconformably on Lower Palaeozoic rocks in the west of the region, with local development of platform carbonates in Shropshire. The more extensive carbonate platform of the Hathern Shelf and coeval basinal mudstones (associated with the SE-trending Widmerpool Gulf) were deposited in the east of the region during late Tournaisian and Visean time. The basinal hemi-pelagic sedimentation continued in the SE throughout the early Namurian with an influx of southerly-derived quartzitic sandstone followed, in the Marsdenian, by northerly-derived feldspathic sandstone (Millstone Grit Group) (Fraser & Gawthorpe 2003).

The oldest Carboniferous strata of late Tournaisian to Visean age do not crop out widely in the region, but are known from boreholes and geophysical records in South Derbyshire and the Vale of Belvoir, and from small inliers in Shropshire and the Clee Hills. Platform carbonates with thin beds of basic tuffite and subordinate sandstone (Peak Limestone Group) were deposited on the Hathern Shelf at the southern margin of the Widmerpool Gulf (half-graben) (Falcon & Kent 1960), but deepening of the basin through synsedimentary rift faulting and a rise in sea-level resulted in the deposition of deeper-water calcareous mud (Widmerpool Formation) (Fraser & Gawthorpe 2003).

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