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During Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary times, SW Europe was characterized by a rapidly evolving paleogeography related to the formation of the Pyrenean Chain. Although, on a world-wide scale, marine sedimentation was widespread, much of France and the adjacent countries were exposed repeatedly to long periods of erosion and continental molassic sedimentation. These continental sediments frequently exceed 2,000 m in thickness. The environmental interpretation and the paleogeography of these continental deposits is the subject of this publication.
European continental sediments, in general, have already been studied extensively, and the Devonian "Old Red Sandstone" of Britain, the Permian "Rotliegendes" of NW Europe, the German Triassic ("Buntsandstein"), and the Swiss Tertiary Molasse are well known.
This present study of Late Cretaceous-Early Tertiary continental facies has been undertaken mainly because these sediments have many aspects which differ fundamentally from themore classical continental deposits of W Europe. For example, the detrital continental facies described are nearly always calcareous and include thick sequences of relatively pure lacustrine limestones. In this respect they contrast with the essentially siliceous components of the above mentioned continental deposits.