The Corwen Outlier and its implications for the Mid Mississippian palaeogeography of North Wales, UK



The isolated outlier of Visean (Mid Mississippian) limestones and sandstones near Corwen, North Wales, UK, provides a critical constraint on regional tectonic and palaeogeographical models. The late Asbian to Brigantian succession comprises a series of shoaling-upwards cycles (parasequences). These were the product of forced, glacioeustatic regressions and have boundaries that testify to emergence, karstic dissolution and soil formation on a low gradient carbonate platform prior to flooding and the resumption of marine deposition. The recognition of two of the main marker beds within the North Wales Visean succession (Main Shale and Coral Bed) together with a newly applied foraminiferal and algal biozonation allow the outlier succession to be correlated with other Visean outcrops in the region and more widely throughout the British Isles. In revealing regional thickness and facies variations, these comparisons show that the outlier succession was deposited landward of the early Asbian shoreline in a region of enhanced subsidence localized along the Bala Lineament. The Corwen Outlier suggests that, within narrow gulfs associated with the region's major tectonic lineaments, Mississippian carbonate facies extended farther south into the contemporary hinterland of older rocks and that, in response to Brigantian climate change, these topographic features likely also influenced fluvial catchments supplying siliciclastic sediment to the platform's landward margin and, subsequently, Namurian deltas. Contrary to earlier suggestions, Visean outcrop patterns, facies distributions and thicknesses in the vicinity of the Bala Lineament can be explained without the need to invoke extensive post-depositional lateral displacements. BGS © NERC 2013. Geological Journal © John Wiley & Sons Ltd.