Upper Cretaceous amber from Vendée, north-western France: Age dating and geological, chemical, and palaeontological characteristics

Didier Néraudeau, Vincent Perrichot, David Batten, Anais Boura, Vincent Girard, Laurent Jeanneau, Youssef A. Nohra, France Polette, Simona Saint Martin, Romain Thomas

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The Upper Cretaceous lignite deposits of La Garnache, Vendée (western France), consist of two lignitic clay series, Garnache 1 and Garnache 2, separated by a fault. The first series cropped out to the south of the fault during road works until 2002 but is now covered by an embankment. It has provided numerous pieces of amber containing arthropod and micro-organism inclusions. The second lignitic series, exposed to the north of the fault, is rich in fossil wood but devoid of amber. Palynological analysis of Garnache 1 revealed several Normapolles species belonging to the genera Atlantopollis, Complexiopollis, Osculapollis, Plicapollis and Trudopollis, but larger forms typical of Senonian deposits are absent. By contrast, Garnache 2 proved to be dominated taxonomically and numerically by spores (Appendicisporites, Camarozonosporites, Gleicheniidites, Patellasporites, Stereisporites), associated with a few gymnosperm (Cerebropollenites, Phyllocladidites, Classopollis) and angiosperm (Liliacidites, Retitricolpites and a single specimen of the Normapolles Complexiopollis) taxa. Garnache 1 is, therefore, younger than Garnache 2, the latter being clearly Cenomanian in age whereas Garnache 1 is more likely to be Turonian. Lignitic clay of Garnache 1 contains numerous translucent, orange to red, pieces of amber. Vendean amber is rich in aquatic arthropods, such as tanaids and epicarideans (Crustacea), as well as marine or brackish siliceous micro-organisms such as diatoms and sponge spicules. These aquatic inclusions indicate that resin-producing trees grew along and close to the seashore. The amber-bearing clay was deposited in a calm, estuarine or lagoonal, muddy environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-95
JournalCretaceous Research
Early online date04 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2017


  • amber
  • arthropods
  • micro-organisms
  • palynology
  • Turonian
  • Vendée
  • Western France


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