The Boulonnais is a dome incised by a former marine gulf inset into a zone of tectonic inversion from the Middle Eocene, which was already partly excavated at least at the Upper Eocene. New sedimentological and paleopedological data obtained within the Boulonnais, completed with old seismic profiles, allow a better understanding of the inversion process which developed step by step. The initial breaching probably took place in the late Eocene. The Dover Strait was probably opened during the Lutetian, a part of the Oligocene and the late Neogene. Oligocene and Pliocene faunal assemblages are identical on both sides of the Strait. It was closed again for tectonic and eustatic reasons in the early Quaternary and reopen subsequently just before the Last Interglacial. The opening is related to the evolution of the Western Channel and of its paleovalley system. The inversion of the Variscan front accommodates most of the shortening induced by the Pyrenean Orogen on the western border of the European plate. The inversion of the Dover Strait region is almost synchronous with those of other basins of the Channel and North Sea areas. Tectonic, geomorphologic and climatic implications of this dynamic are discussed within the western European context.

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