Abstract

Detailed dinoflagellate cyst analysis of the Lower–Middle Miocene Berchem Formation at the southernmost margin of the North Sea Basin (northern Belgium) allowed a precise biostratigraphical positioning and a reconstruction of the depositional history. The two lower members of the formation (Edegem Sands and decalcified Kiel Sands) are biostratigraphically regarded as one unit since no significant break within the dinocyst assemblages is observed. The base of this late (or latest) Aquitanian–Burdigalian unit coincides with sequence boundary Aq3/Bur1 as defined by Hardenbol and others, in work published in 1998. A hiatus at the Lower–Middle Miocene transition separates the upper member (the Antwerpen Sands) from the underlying member. The greater part of the Antwerpen Sands were deposited in a Langhian (latest Burdigalian?)–middle Serravallian interval. The base of this unit coincides with sequence boundary Bur5/Lan1. Biostratigraphical correlation points to a diachronous post-depositional decalcification within the formation since parts of the decalcified Kiel Sands can be correlated with parts of the calcareous fossil-bearing section, up to now interpreted as Antwerpen Sands. The dinoflagellate cyst assemblages are dominated by species with a inner neritic preference, although higher numbers of oceanic taxa in the upper part of the formation indicate incursions of oceanic watermasses into the confined depositional environment of the southern North Sea Basin.

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