Abstract

A correlation and interpretation of the sequence stratigraphy of the lower Cambrian strata of NW France is presented and used to characterize basin-wide controls on processes of sedimentation. Deposition occurred in two basins, as two third-order stratigraphic sequences. A northern basin in the Cotentin was dominated by deposition of marine siliciclastic sediments of Sequence 1 (Cambrian Stages 2–3). The primary sediment input was from the NW at La Hague. A middle Normandy basin, SW of Caen, was characterized by deposition of platform carbonates and fine-grained, offshore siliciclastics in Sequence 1 and fluvio-deltaic and marine siliciclastics in Sequence 2 (Cambrian Stages 3–4). Major sediment input points lay to the west in Brittany and to the NE of Caen (in Sequence 2). Lowstand and transgressive systems tract strata dominate both sequences, with local preservation of highstand deposits in basin-centre locations. Fluvial deposits occur at basin margins and display sandstone-dominated facies typical of prevegetation systems. Two styles of fluvially dominated siliciclastic delta are recognized, which show delta-front strata composed of fluvial channels overlying either wave-formed deposits or hyperpycnites. The former formed on shallow shelves, whereas the latter formed where basin bathymetry was steeper and commonly fault controlled. Fossil microbial life forms are conspicuous in Sequence 1, as are intervals of low-diversity bioturbation. The balance of life forms is consistent with the punctuated replacement of algal matgrounds with mixgrounds during early Cambrian time. Super-mature quartz arenites were formed by high-energy wave processes on slowly aggrading basin flanks following marine transgression.

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