In the Arctic, Spitsbergen (Svalbard archipelago) comprises a Caledonian metamorphic basement structured around 420 Ma, cut by faults that demarcate a sedimentary, NS graben, filled up by siliclastic detrital series of Old Red Sandstone facies (ca. 418 - ca. 326 Ma), with a lateral cumulative thickness of 6300 to more than 10,800 meters. The latter yields a particularly abundant fauna of early fishes, which are the main guide fossils for stratigraphic purposes (Agnatha, Placodermi and Crossopterygii). These sediments are faulted and folded, and disconformably overlapped by the unfolded, marine Carboniferous - Permian carbonate platform. The Old Red Sandstone of Spitsbergen is a reference for all the contemporaneous series of the ORS Continent. However, since the outcrops were hitherto discontinuous in the Polar zone, the stratigraphic correlations were difficult to establish, and the definition of the lithostratigraphic units are still discussed. This region is one of the least studied as for paleontology and stratigraphy, even if several fossil collections and partial field mappings have been made, notably in 1939 with the Anglo-Norwegian-Swedish palaeontological expedition, and in 1969 with the French CNRS-MNHN expedition, later completed by the Russian and German works (Murasov and Mokin 1976, 1979; Schweitzer, 1999). Since the acceleration of the melting of the glaciers and of the ice-cap, the gradual continental rise by glacioisostasy and the erosion by torrents and the tide cause incisions in the moraines, and new outcrops appear. In the framework of a collaboration with the Norsk Polarinstitutt, our field teams could visit some of them, such as LGGST - Chorowicz 1986 to 1994, Roy 1999, CAST 401 IFRTP - ipev 2002 and 2003, Roy 2008, and SPITZ P3 1005 ipev 2010, and the stratigraphical correlation of the nunataks is in progress. Palaeontology, geology, geophysical and geochimical geochronology show that, in Spitsbergen, the deposition of the ORS began in Late Silurian (?Pridoli) times and continued in the Devonian and Carboniferous until the beginning of the late Mississipian. The new information we now have, thanks to studies led in the framework of the International Geologic Correlation Programme 328 (Blieck and Turner 2000) and IGCP 406 Programme, 'Circum Arctic Lower - Middle Paleozoic Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biostratigraphy', with H. Blom (Uppsala) and V. Talimaa (Vilnius), lead us to consider the sedimentation of the graben and its tectonic behaviour as an essential source of data for understanding the natural history of the Arctic: the consequences of the closure of the Iapetus ocean and the dismantling of the Caledonian chain. The bio- and litho- stratigraphy begins to be accurately known, notably thanks to the vertebrate-based biozones (Agnatha, Placodermi and Crossopterygii); a work that was been initiated by Daniel Goujet (1984) and continued by the research team on vertebrate fossils of Spitsbergen (Blieck, 1982, 1984; Goujet, 1984; Janvier 1985; Blieck et al., 1987; Clément, 2001; Pernegre, 2004). If some of these vertebrates seem endemic to Spitsbergen and to the Arctic, they are closely connected to marine species of global distribution, notably with Australian species.
2010. 223-223 p.
STRATI2010 - 4th French Congress on Stratigraphy, Paris, August 30 - September2, 2010