The Tournaisian and Viséan were formerly considered as series and in Belgium were divided into two (Hastarian and Ivorian) and three stages (Moliniacian, Livian and Warnantian), which are now considered as substages. The Belgian substages are based on conodonts and foraminifers, and incidentally on rugose corals, and are described here. Their boundaries, biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy are well detailed and clearly defined. The base of the Hastarian (lower Tournaisian) corresponds to the base of the Tournaisian (base of Carboniferous); the base of the Ivorian (upper Tournaisian) corresponds to the appearance of the conodont Polygnathus communis carina, a little above the last Siphonodella; the base of the Moliniacian (lower Viséan) corresponds to the base of the Viséan stage defined by the first occurrence of the foraminifer Eoparastaffella simplex; the Livian (middle Viséan) corresponds to the foraminiferal MFZ12 Zone and is marked by the appearance of Koskinotextularia and Pojarkovella nibelis; the base of the Warnantian (upper Viséan) is marked by the appearance of Neoarchaediscus, Vissariotaxis, Planospirodiscus, and Palaeotextularia with a bilaminar wall, the index taxa of the MFZ13-Neoarchaediscus Zone. The up-to-date chronostratigraphic subdivision of the Tournaisian and Viséan is not limited to Belgium and the surrounding areas. It can be applied through Eurasia as far as South China. The Belgian units could therefore be the basis for a future international division of the Tournaisian into two parts (Hastarian and Ivorian) and of the Viséan into three parts (Moliniacian, Livian and Warnantian), corresponding to time intervals of c. 5–8 Ma.

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