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The Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse (ESEM, Belgium) neogene cryptokarsts were briefly investigated to evaluate their potential value as natural analogues with reference to the Belgian radioactive waste deep disposal project in clay. Two main research themes were selected.
The first was the study of well-preserved wood fragments in the argillaceous sedimentary infilling of the karsts. The obtained results indicate that most of the cellulose content of miocene plants has been preserved over about 10 to 15 million years. The long-term preservation of cellulose is mostly due to the presence of clay beds (kaolinite, illite, minor smectite and illite/smectite layers) overlying the wood-bearing sediments.
The second research theme was dedicated to the migration of trace elements (and especially REE) in the argillaceous sediments of the studied karsts which underwent intense neogene weathering. The REE and trace elements were removed from their mineral carriers (clay and accesory minerals) by the low pH fluids involved in the weathering process. However, most of the mobilized REE were quickly trapped within neoformed U-rich monazites intimately associated with neoformed kaolinites at the karst wall. These clay minerals in turn physically immobilized and protected the neoformed monazites.
This work has thus succeeded in demonstrating that the ESEM neogene cryptokarsts are relevant natural analgoues for the Belgian radioactive waste deep disposal project in the oligocene boom clay Fm. m.

Additional information

Authors: DE PUTTER T, Faculté Polytechnique de Mons (BE)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 16930 EN (1996) 71pp., FS, ECU 10
Availability: Available from the (2)
ISBN: ISBN 92-827-7453-8; ISSN
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