In the Firth of Clyde area of southwest Scotland, the Famennian Kinnesswood Formation includes an interval of massive, host-replacing phreatic calcrete hardpan (HRPCH), the likes of which have been documented only at few locations and few intervals in geological history. The HRPCH is found only at basin-margin shoulders, where the Kinnesswood Formation succession is thin and incomplete. The isles of Bute and Great Cumbrae provide well exposed sections in which adjacent shoulder and trough successions can be correlated and compared to clarify the tectonostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental settings of the HRPCHs. In the Cumbraes Trough, above a thin interval of peritidal limestone, the middle part of the Kinnesswood Formation (lower part of the Foul Port Member) is pervasively disturbed by large syndepositional dewatering structures interpreted to be products of the intermittent deposition and dissolution of evaporites. These structures occur at approximately the same stratigraphic interval as the HRPCHs on the isles of Bute and possibly Arran. The HRPCH in Bute is interpreted to have developed on a syndepositional shoulder adjacent to a growth fault (the Kerrycroy Fault) delimiting a trough that accommodated intermittent seawater incursions in a restricted, evaporitic setting. This is consistent with the current model for HRPCH formation, which involves the mixing of fresh groundwater issued from source areas with the high pH groundwater that surrounds evaporitic basins. A significant increase in silica solubility paired with a decrease in calcite solubility occurs in the mixing zone, thus promoting the thorough replacement of silicates with calcrete.

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