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  • Author: A.J. (Tom) van Loon x
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A 1-million m3 breccia near Laiyuan (Hebei Province, E China) occurs as a block-like lithological unit between dolo-stones of the 1.55-1.45 Ga (Early Mesoproterozoic) Wumishan Formation. It has previously been interpreted as a seismite, but it appears not to fulfil any of the commonly accepted criteria that jointly are considered diagnostic for seis-mites. Its presence in a graben-like structure with almost vertical bounding fault planes rather indicates an origin as a (submarine) valley fill. As the valley originated by tectonic activity in the form of faulting, the breccia can be considered as a secondary effect of seismic activity, but it does not represent a seismite.


The Archaean granitoid pluton of the Singhbhum craton in E India is overlain by Archaean to Palaeoproterozoic metasediments. These sediments are still poorly known and their stratigraphy is under debate. Several scattered, most probably Meso- to Neoarchaean, conglomerates are present in the state of Jharkhand that differ so much in characteristics that they are probably not related to each other. The sedimentology of a series of conglomerate patches and layers near Bhurkuli has been investigated, including the characteristics of the clasts. It is deduced on the basis of these characteristics and the sedimentological context that the Bhurkuli conglomerates represent the channel facies of a river system that differed from the types of fluvial systems that exist nowadays.


An oolite in the Furongian (Late Cambrian) Chaomidian Formation in Shandong Province, China, which was deposited on the North China Platform in an epeiric sea, contains several limestone breccia lenses of various dimensions (centimetres to decimetres thick and decimetres to more than 10 metres in length) in an E-trending section. The oolite, which is approximately 40 cm thick, was originally thicker, as indicated by a planar truncation surface that formed by wave abrasion. The breccia lenses in this oolite are generally mound-shaped with a flat base and a convex top. The western margin of the lenses is commonly rounded whereas the eastern margin commonly has a tail (consisting of a rapidly eastwards thinning breccia horizon that gradually ends in a horizon of isolated clasts). Some of the breccia lenses are underlain by a shear zone.

The formation of the breccia lenses cannot be easily explained by normal depositional or deformational processes. It is concluded that the lenses represent fragments of a partly consolidated layer, consisting of both rounded and angular platy clasts, which slid down over a very gently inclined sedimentary surface which acted – possibly together with a water film – as a lubricant layer. During transport, the layer broke up into several discrete bodies that formed small ‘highs’ at the sedimentary surface of the shallow epeiric sea. Subsequently, waves partially eroded the lenses, mostly at their margins, producing their mound-shaped form.

Sliding of blocks is known from a wide variety of environments in the sedimentary record; however, this is the first description of the sliding of blocks in an epeiric sea. This indicates that such a low-relief submarine carbonate setting is, like its siliciclastic counterparts, susceptible to this process.


The silty top parts of graded turbidites of the Late Ordovician Pingliang Formation, which accumulated along the southern margin of the Ordos Basin (central China), have been reworked by contour currents. The reworking of the turbidites can be proven on the basis of paleocurrent directions in individual layers: the ripple-cross-bedded sandy divisions of some turbidites show transport directions consistently into the downslope direction (consistent with the direction of other gravity flows), but in the upper, silty fine-grained division they show another direction, viz. alongslope (consistent with the direction that a contour current must have taken at the same time). Both directions are roughly perpendicular to each other. Moreover, the sediment of the reworked turbidites is better sorted and has better rounded grains than the non-reworked turbidites.

Although such type of reworking is well known from modern deep-sea environments, this has rarely been found before in ancient deep-sea deposits. The reworking could take place because the upper divisions of the turbidites involved are silty and consequently relatively easily erodible, while the contour current had locally a relatively high velocity – and consequently a relatively large erosional capability – because of confinement within a relatively narrow trough.


Numerous soft-sediment deformation structures occur within the Proterozoic Bhander Limestone of an intracratonic sag basin in a 750 m long section along the Thomas River, near Maihar, central India. Part of these deformation structures have most probably a non-seismic origin, but other structures are interpreted as resulting from earthquake-induced shocks. These seismic structures are concentrated in a 60 cm thick interval, which is interpreted as three stacked seismi-tes. These three seismites are traceable over the entire length of the section. They divide the sedimentary succession in a lower part (including the seismites) deposited in a hypersaline lagoon, and an upper open-marine (shelf) part. Most of the soft-sediment deformations outside the seismite interval occur in a lagoonal intraclastic and muddy facies association.

The SSDS within the seismite interval show a lateral continuity. They record simultaneous fluidisation and liquefaction. The bases of each of the three composing seismite bands are defined by small-scale shear folds, probably recording an earthquake and aftershocks.

The presence of the three seismite bands at the boundary between the lagoonal and the overlying open-marine oolitic facies association suggests that the seismic event also triggered basin subsidence.