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System (stratigraphy)

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System (stratigraphy)

A system in stratigraphy is a unit of rock layers that were laid down together within the same corresponding geological period. The associated period is a chronological time unit, a part of the geological time scale, while the system is a unit of chronostratigraphy. Systems are unrelated to lithostratigraphy, which subdivides rock layers on their lithology. Systems are subdivisions of erathems and are themselves divided into series and stages.

Systems in the geological timescale

The systems of the Phanerozoic were defined during the 19th century, beginning with the Cretaceous (by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in the Paris Basin) and the Carboniferous (by British geologists William Conybeare and William Phillips) in 1822). The Paleozoic and Mesozoic were divided into the currently used systems before the second half of the 19th century, except for a minor revision when the Ordovician system was added in 1879.

The Cenozoic has seen more recent revisions by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. It has been divided into three systems with the Paleogene and Neogene replacing the former Tertiary System though the succeeding Quaternary remains. The one-time system names of Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene are now series within the Paleogene and Neogene.

Another recent development is the official division of the Proterozoic into systems, which was decided in 2004.

Multidiscipline comparison

Units in geochronology and stratigraphy[1]
Segments of rock (strata) in chronostratigraphy Time spans in geochronology Notes to
geochronological units
Eonothem Eon 4 total, half a billion years or more
Erathem Era 10 defined, several hundred million years
System Period 22 defined, tens to ~one hundred million years
Series Epoch tens of millions of years
Stage Age millions of years
Chronozone Chron subdivision of an age, not used by the ICS timescale

Notes

  1. ^ .

References

  • Hedberg, H.D., (editor), International stratigraphic guide: A guide to stratigraphic classification, terminology, and procedure, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1976
  • International Stratigraphic Chart from the International Commission on Stratigraphy
  • USA National Park Service
  • Washington State University
  • Web Geological Time Machine
  • Eon or Aeon, Math Words - An alphabetical index

External links

  • The Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP): overview
  • Chart of The Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP): chart
  • Geotime chart displaying geologic time periods compared to the fossil record - Deals with chronology and classifications for laymen (not GSSPs)
  • International Commission on Stratigraphy page on Chronostratigraphy : overview
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