The exhumation history of basement areas is poorly constrained because of large gaps in the sedimentary record. Indirect methods including low temperature thermochronology may be used to estimate exhumation but these require an inverse modeling procedure to interpret the data. Solutions from such modeling are not always satisfactory as they may be too broad or may conflict with independent geological data. This study shows that the input of geological constraints is necessary to obtain a valuable and refined exhumation history and to identify the presence of a former sedimentary cover presently completely eroded. Apatite fission-track (AFT) data have been acquired on the northern part of the Ardenne Massif close to the Variscan front and in the southern Brabant, in particular for the Visean ash-beds. Apatite fission-track ages for surface samples range between 140 ± 13 and 261 ± 33 Ma and confined tracks lengths are ranging between 12.6 ± 0.2 and 13.8 ± 0.2 μm. Thermal inversion has been realized assuming that (1) samples were close to the surface (20–40 °C) during Triassic times, this is supported by remnants of detrital Upper Permian–Triassic sediments preserved in the south of the Ardenne and in the east (border of the Roer Graben and Malmédy Graben), and (2) terrestrial conditions prevailed during the Early Cretaceous for the Ardenne Massif, as indicated by radiometric ages on paleoweathering products. Inversion of the AFT data characterizes higher temperatures than surface temperatures during most of the Jurassic. Temperature range is wide but is compatible with the deposition on the northern Ardenne of a significant sedimentary cover, which has been later eroded during the Late Jurassic and/or the Early Cretaceous. Despite the presence of small outliers of Late Cretaceous (Hautes Fagnes area), no evidence is recorded by the fission-track data for the deposition of a significant chalk cover as highlighted in different parts of western Europe. These results question the existence of the London-Brabant Massif as a permanent positive structure during the Mesozoic.
Barbarand, J., Bour, I., Pagel, M., Quesnel, F., Delcambre, B., Dupuis, C., & Yans, J. (2018). Post-Paleozoic evolution of the northern Ardenne Massif constrained by apatite fission-track thermochronology and geological data. BSGF - Earth Sciences Bulletin, 189(4-6), 16. https://doi.org/10.1051/bsgf/2018015