Abstract

Paleomagnetic sampling was carried out in Mesozoic exposures of Northwest France and Southeast Belgium. Cretaceous localities in Hainaut, Boulonnais and Normandie yielded statistically well defined paleomagnetic directions. These localities fall into two groups. Hainaut and Boulonnais are characterized by declinations suggesting 30° counterclockwise (CCW) angular deviation of declination with respect to the present North, while Normandie exhibits moderate (12°) clockwise (CW) angular deviation with respect to the present North. In Normandie, we also observed occasionally very weak signals of a CCW deviated component, which, however, could not be treated statistically. Fold test suggests that both groups of samples were remagnetized during deformation. The overall mean paleomagnetic declination of the first group is westernly, that of the second group practically coincides with post-Eocene European reference directions, From assessing structural inversion and relevant paleostress-directions in Normandie, remagnetization may be connected to tectonic inversion in late Eocene-Oligocene times.

While the statistically meaningful paleomagnetic result for the second group fit the synthetic stable European apparent polar wander path (APWP) at about 30 Ma, the overall mean paleomagnetic direction of the first group (based on 5 localities, representing 42 samples) defines a pole which is significantly offset from it, at any time following the deposition of the studied sediments. One explanation of this offset could be intraplate rotation on a small (Brabant Massif) scale. However, the angle of deviation in declination seems to be too large for a tectonic solution. Furthermore the data obtained from the Paleozoic do not show such declination deviation. It seems, therefore, that we need to increase considerably the direct stable European paleomagnetic database for the late Cretaceous-Tertiary, in order to further improve the late Cretaceous-Paleogene segment of the European APWP.

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