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Dr Alan Channing

Hot spring environments and ecosystems through time
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Massif Central, France - Carboniferous

The Massif Central has widespread evidence of Carboniferous volcanism and epithermal activity. Gold mineralisation in the form of vein systems is associated with fault systems that form the margins of sedimentary basins in which coal deposits formed. Chert deposits are also present in the region (e.g. Grand Croix, Autun, Esnost) and these are world famous for the permineralised plants and fungi that they contain. Most of the fossiliferous cherts are considered to have formed as silica-rich fluids that formed by the dissolution of volcanic ash infiltrated peat deposits. Relatively recently a number of less richly fossiliferous chert deposits have been identified and interpreted as hot spring sinter deposits based on their geological setting, chert textures and major and trace element concentrations.

The Meillers Autunian hydrothermal chalcedony:
first evidence of a 295 Ma auriferous epithermal sinter in the Frech Massif Central. Eric Marcoux et al. 2004.

Laminated white sinter apron chert with remnant vuggy porosity.


Beige to grey mottled apron margin chert with cylindrical plant stem.