The Pliocene of Belgium.

Marine Pliocene sediments, deposited in a shallow marine environment, are restricted to the Antwerp area in northern Belgium. The Pliocene consists mainly of the Kattendijk Sand Member (Zanclean) and the Oorderen Sand Member (Piacenzian).

The major transgression at the beginning of the Pliocene partially or even completely eroded the Miocene sediments in the Antwerp area forming the basal gravel of the Kattendijk Formation. Most elasmobranch remains were found in this gravel, which could be sampled on various occasions during the last 40 years, thanks to construction works in the Antwerp harbour (e.g. digging of the Deurganckdok) and maintenance dredging of existing harbour docks (e.g. Churchilldok).

The fossil content of this gravel indicates that not only Miocene material is reworked into the gravel, but also Oligocene and even Eocene (Leriche, 1926). As the regional reduction of the (Miocene) sediments was not uniform, the fossil content of this gravel and its preservation may vary greatly. The age of the Kattendijk Formation is about 5.0 Ma and 4.7-4.4 Ma (Louwye et al., 2004), while its bathymetry at Doel and Kallo was estimated at 45 to 70 m (Marquet, 2004).

Above the basal gravel, the Kattendijk Sands are exposed: black-green glauconitic sand scattered with shelly layers, occasionally yielding shark teeth (e.g. Herman et al., 1974). The Oorderen Sands, a very thick and shelly layer, is deposited above the Kattendijk Sands. Shark teeth become scarce, few are found by eye-collecting (mostly Carcharodon carcharias and Hexanchus).


HERMAN, J., CROCHARD, M. & GIRARDOT, M., 1974. Quelques restes de sélaciens récoltés dans les sables du Kattendijk à Kallo. I. Selachii – Euselachii. Bulletin de la Société belge de Géologie, 83: 15-31.

LERICHE, M., 1926. Les poissons néogènes de la Belgique. Mémoires du Musée Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique, 32: 367-472, pls 28-41.

LOUWYE, S., HEAD, M. & DE SCHEPPER, S., 2004. Dinoflagellate cyst stratigraphy and palaeoecology of the Pliocene in northern Belgium, southern North Sea Basin. Geological Magazine, 141(3): 353-378.

MARQUET, R., 2004. Ecology and evolution of Pliocene bivalves from the Antwerp Basin. Bulletin de l'Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique, Sciences de la terre, 74-supplement: 205-212.


© P. De Schutter - 2011