Abstract

Several exposure surfaces (D1 to D6) underlain by paleosols, paleokarstic surfaces, and subsurface paleokarsts were identified in the Middle to Upper Bathonian Calcaires à Stipites and Dolomies II Formations in southern France. Two kinds of paleosols with different degrees of maturity were recognized: simple ferruginous crusts, capping very irregular bed surfaces, and a rooted horizon. The paleokarstic surfaces are marked by nodular horizons and paleocaves. On the Cévennes shoal, the paleokarsts discontinuities are associated with synsedimentary tectonic processes, which did not extend into the overlying Dolomies II Formation. Subsurface paleokarsts were observed in the Cirque du Bout du Monde (on the Cévennes shoal) within the Calcaires à Stipites Formation, just beneath surface D5. They are characterized by stronger brecciation of the beds.

Most of the paleokarstic discontinuities described in this study correspond to the boundaries of four third-order depositional sequences, Bt 1 to Bt 4 (D1 at the base of Bt 1; D2, D3, D4, and D5 capping Bt 1, Bt 2, Bt 3, and Bt 4, respectively; D6 at the top of the Dolomies II Formation). D1, D2, and D3 paleokarsts are geographically limited to the Grands Causses Graben, whereas D4, D5, and D6 are present only on the Cévennes shoal. Geographic trends of paleokarsts confirm the transgressive trend of sequences Bt 3 and Bt 4, and of the overlying Dolomies II Formation towards the shoal. D6 paleokarstic features were also observed within the uppermost part of the Dolomies II Formation in the Horst de Saint-Bresson. The latter transgressive process provides evidence for subaerial exposure of this paleostructure during the latest Bathonian-Callovian interval, induced by tectonic uplifts.

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