This overview provides some background information on the geological origin of the Louis De Pauw and Palaeontologica Belgica Awards. As an organisation rooted in earth sciences we try to valorise the rich lithological spectrum of stones from the Belgian underground. We make sure to provide a diverse selection of decorative (lime)stones who are representative in the past and present stone building industry. The awards are listed by year and more information can be obtained by mail or in specialised literature that we are happy to provide to anyone interested in the subject.
Stone: ‘Rouge de Rance’ Red Limestone from Rance (Sivry – Hainaut Province)
Stratigraphy: Biosherms in ‘Les Valisettes’ Formation (Frasnian – Upper Devonian)
Description: Famous limestone from the bioherm coral reefs in the Rance region. This famous limestone was extracted for many centuries in the ‘Botte du Hainaut’ region, and gained worldwide fame as a decorative stone. It was incorporated in multiple rooms (salons) in the Versailles palace and can be found in many 19th and early 20th century houses, where it's typically found as a mantlepiece for the fireplace. Also the Antwerp town hall was constructed with original limestones from Rance. This red limestone with its white and grey calcite structures are the remnants of corals and reef building organisms and have a generally pleasing esthetic look. The color and intensity of the red limestone varies according to the location within the bioherm.
Stone: ‘Petit Granit’ Limestone from Naast (Soignies – Hainaut Province)
Stratigraphy: Soignies Member - Ecausinne Formation (Tournaisian – Lower Carboniferous)
Description: One of the most famous and commonly used building stones from belgium. This dark blue to dark grey limestone is one of the most popular building and construction stones in our country’s history. Historically mined around the regions of Tournai, Sprimont and Soignies, the stones used for the Palaeontologica Belgica award come from the famous Gauthier-Wincqz quarry in Naast (Soignies). This limestone is made out of large quantities of crinoid sterns which accumulated over the course of time. This is why often the term crinoidal limestone or ‘encrenite’ is used. Today the ‘Petit Granit’ limestone is gaining more popularity as a decorative stone. When sawed and polished, the dark matrix and white texture of the crinoids and other marine fauna really bring out the Carboniferous seafloor during the
Stone: Marbre Noir de Golzinne (a.k.a. ‘noir de Mazy’) Gembloux area (Namur province)
Stratigraphy: Golzinne Member of the Rhisnes Formation (Middle Frasnian – Upper Devonian)
Description: The ‘Marbre Noir’ is the only all-black limestone originating from Belgium, extracted to this day from the underground quarry near Golzinne. It is a 'mudstone' that contains few (less than 10%) fossils. The fossils that occur are mainly ostracods, echinoderm remains, shell fragments of bivalves and sponge spicula. The granular zones can be attributed to crust-forming algae. Locally, bioturbations characterised by their fuzzy appearance can be observed. Small rhombohedral dolomite crystals can be noticed in the micrite matrix (sometimes also microsparite). Moreover, fine stylolites with small amplitudes occur. This rock can be geologically classified as a 'mudstone' (according to Dunham) or as a fossiliferous micrite.
Stone: Limestone from Lompret (Chimay – Hainaut Province)
Stratigraphy: Lion member of the Grand Breux Formation (Frasnian – Upper Devonian)
Description: Grey limestone from the active Lompret quarry with one of the last coral reef (bioherm) occurrences from the Belgian Frasnian, before the Kellwasser extinction event. This light-grey micritic limestone is rich in cephalopods, bivalves and other bioclasts. Different parts of this bioherm give an insight into the paleo-ecological situation during the time of its existence. Pioneering organisms providing the structure of the reef can be observed (e.g. Stomatactis, rugosa, tabulata). But more mobile organisms such as trilobites and cephalopods, have been documented as well. Although this stone is mainly used as a granulate for construction works, its potential as a decorative stone should not be underestimated.
Stone: Reefal limestone from the Resteigne quarry (Carrière de La Lesse) (Luxembourg province)
Stratigraphy: Terres de Mont d’Haurs Formation (Early Givetian - Middle-Devonian)
Description: The formation is representative of thick bedded biostromal limestones with lots of reef forming organisms such as stromatoporoids, rugose and tabulate corals and occasionally stringocephalids. Mostly, we observe micritic limestones in thinner beds. Dolomitic shales and limestones occasionally occur near the top of the lower part and in the middle part of the formation. The limestone has been polished to enhance the contrast between the dark micritic limestone matrix and the abundant reefal organisms which were preserved in this massive bank. The backside of the stone displays the original and weathered occurrence as can be found within the Resteigne quarry. A polished ornamental or decorative stone from this formation is rather rare as it was historically mainly used as a raw primary material for cement and lime production or as stabilizer gravel.
Stone: Porous limestone (kalkmergel) from the underground Sibber Quarry a.k.a ‘Sibberstone’ (Valkenburg a/d Geul Zuid-Limburg province - Netherlands)
Stratigraphy: Maastricht Formation - Emael Kalksteen (Maastrichtian - Late Cretaceous)
Description: The Emael Limestone is named after the Belgian type locality and town of Eben-Emael (Bassenge - province of Liège), where it was extracted from the ‘Marnebel’ quarry. This particular lithological unit consists of two parts. The upper part is an alternation of shell banks and banks of yellow-white fine limestone. The lower part consists of a continuous limestone, which is packed with concretions of flint. Near Valkenburg aan de Geul, there occurs a vast network of prehistoric mines where this flint was extracted. The Emael limestone was used abundantly as a construction stone and for ornamental decorations despite its often porous and coarse-grained character. To counter the weathering of this particular limestone and award, it was treated with a transparent primer (hardener-adhesive) which helps to consolidate and reduce the amount of dust.