Lompret-sur-Mer - Geological curiosities of the Fagne region
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In the heart of the Fagne, halfway between Chimay and Couvin, lies Lompret, one of the most beautiful villages in Wallonia. This peaceful village with its seemingly modest appearance, bordering the meanders of the 'Eau Blanche' source river, can nevertheless boast a very rich cultural and historical past. First of all, the discovery of numerous flint tools points to early human presence in the region dating back to the Neolithic period, but also its Roman camp and treasure which attest to its strategic importance in the third century BP. Yet, beyond its status as a landmark of the region's cultural and historical heritage, the subsoil of Lompret is also full of unsuspected geological and paleontological treasures.
To honour all the amazing and unique finds that have been unearthed over the past 20 years, a temporary exhibition was erected in collaboration with the Musée du marbre de Rance, entitled:
Let's be clear, this exhibit does not talk about a village near the Belgian coast, but rather deals with a coral reef in a tropical climate. To make sure we have the right setting, we have to go back in time, to approximatly 380 million years before the present, to a stage of the geological timescale we call the Frasnian. At that time, the sea was quite different and populated by strange animals with the most peculiar looks. Some of these animals have survived the ages and their descendants still inhabit our oceans to this day, while others have disappeared entirely from the surface of the earth as a result of major ecological crises.
During the Frasnian period, Western Europe was in fact a vast coastal region dotted with coral reefs hosting rich ecosystems. These reefs were populated by organisms such as corals and stromatopores who provided the necessary substrate for a very diverse fauna. Like all coral reefs, the one in Lompret was home to a multitude of animal such as bivalves, sea urchins, gastropods and trilobites. Primitive cephalopods and sharks swam freely, all the while avoiding large predators such as the fearsome Dunkleosteus ruling this aquatic world. Meanwhile, on the continent, the vascular plants who had begun their colonisation of the land during the Silurian (a few million year prior), continued to grow and became more complex. The first true trees such as Archaeopteris and cladoxylopsids flourished and offered protection from the sun's violent UV rays to the first amphibians such as Ichthyostega. Some arachnids such as scorpions also took advantage of the 'greening of the world' to lead a fully terrestrial existence. We kindly invite you to come and visit the exhibition to learn more about this amazing geological stage and what remains of it to this day.
Thanks to numerous voluntary contributions from collectors, citizen scientists, academics and research institutions, this exhibition was made possible. As a result of these collaborations that we can speak of an fruitful interaction between different groups of like-minded people who can help each other in their mutual passion. We would therefore like to thank all those who have contributed to the realisation of this extraordinary exhibition. Extraordinary, because a small quarry, well hidden in the Fagne, has brought together many groups with different backgrounds from all corners of our country. We gladly invite everyone to come and visit the exhibit from 5th april until 5th october 2022. More information can be obtained via the musée du Marbre website, or by contacting Palaeontologica Belgica.
On saturday 2nd Avril around 5:00 pm, we had to honour of inaugurating our Lompret-sur-Mer exhibit at the Musée du Marbre in Rance. Around 30 guests attended the ceremony and enjoyed a guided tour around the exposition. Two speeches were delivered by Palaeontologica Belgica, emphasising on the importance of collaborating together and the struggles of setting up an event like this. The municipal officers of Sivry and Chimay were charmed by the display of their regional fossils and plans were made for collaborations in the near future. As from Monday, the exhibit will be open to the public during the museum’s visiting hours. We wish to thank all our collaborators for making this expo possible.
All the information displayed in the exposition can be read in the catalogue via this link
More information regarding the geology from within the quarry can be seen via the Palaeontologica Belgica YouTube channel (in French).