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ABSTRACT

The lower Visean Belle Roche breccia (east Belgium) displays a number of features that indicate brecciation by evaporite dissolution collapse: the sharp lower contact of the breccia, the gradual transition into the overlying strata, the presence of semi-continuous beds within the breccia giving it a crude ‘stratification’, and the existence of several types of (calcite, dolomite and silica) evaporite pseudomorphs. Furthermore, the majority of the breccia fragments indicates hypersaline to lagoonal sedimentation conditions. Most of these fragments display an interlocking fabric. The interpretation is also supported by the existence of continuous evaporite beds replaced by carbonates (calcite and dolomite) both under and overlying the breccia.

The brecciation history is characterized by gradual subsidence. Multiple brecciation episodes are recognized, and are best seen in the lower breccia which underwent at least two major brecciation episodes. Here, brecciated and veined breccia fragments occur within a microsparite (neomorphosed mud) matrix. Brecciation of these strata was due to the dissolution of interlayered evaporites. The second brecciation event relates to infiltration of meteoric water and to the dissolution of the remaining evaporites. This infiltration was probably triggered by the orogenic event at the end of the Visean (Sudetic orogenic phase). The whole breccia was finally cemented by a blocky calcite.

The different lithologies and cements were characterized by their trace element (Mg, Sr, Na, Fe, Mn, K), insoluble residue and organic matter content. Carbon/oxygen isotope data of the cements and replaced evaporite layers helped to place the multiple collapse episodes within a general diagenetic model. Solution-reprecipitation processes within the original aragonite-dominated mud fragments, as well as in the early diagenetic dolomite fragments, have been recognized. The geochemical data show that these transformation processes occurred in equilibrium with the same fluid. These processes may have occurred within a freshwater lens very early in the diagenetic evolution or under shallow burial conditions. Cementation of blocky calcite occurred in a meteoric realm under burial conditions.