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S t r a t i g r ap h y i s t h e t r i u m p h o f terminology over common sense. P.D. Krynine

Amanda Brooks BIOL 6800 October 2010


y From the Latin stratum (layer) and the Greek

graphia (draw).
y The branch of geology that treats the formation,

composition, distribution, sequence, and correlation of stratified rocks.

y The most important aspect is correlation

Three Types of Stratigraphy

I. Lithostratigraphy structural or physical

interpretation of rocks
II. Paleontological Stratigraphy grouping of

strata based on fossil features

III. Chronostratigraphy grouping of strata

based on time

I. Lithostratigraphy
1. Formal delineating properly named

formations and groups, mapping

2. Facies delineating informal facies

groupings, can be diagenic, sedimentary, or economic

3. Geophysical delineating subsurface units

using seismic data

II. Paleontological Stratigraphy

y Formal naming and correlating formal

units called biozones

y Biofacies delineating informal facies based

on fossils

III. Chronostratigraphy


Biochronostratigraphy time correlated using index fossils

2. Magnetopolarity chronostratigraphy delineated

using magnetic record

3. Event Stratigraphy delineated using evidence of

major event in earths history such as impacts, eruptions, or Milankovitch climate changes

Three Steps


Description actual measurement and description, can be from exposed strata, well logs, or seismic data

2. Correlation matching the described strata to

strata in other areas lithologically, paleontologically, geophysically, etc

3. Synthesis evaluation of data in terms of

correlations made, mapping

Field Data

Well Cores


Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking


1660-1760 Basic Principles Steno et al 1. Nicolas Steno (1638-1687) physician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany a) Principle of Superposition younger rocks are on top b) Principle of Original Horizontality sediment layers were laid down horizontally c) Principle of Original Lateral Continuity layers continue until they feather out, reach an obstruction or grade into a different composition

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking

y Effects:

Superposition allows us to interpret a sequential history for strata in any area.  2. Original horizontality allows us to determine any deformation that may have occurred in an area such as uplift or faulting.  3. Lateral continuity allows us to correlate layers over large areas.

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking


1760-1860 Broad Concepts Hutton, Smith et al 1. Hutton (1726-1797) Scottish physician, farmer, and naturalist a) Principle of Actualism (or Uniformitarianism) the past history of our globe must be explained by what we see happening now b) first to argue for long, long geologic time span 2. Smith (1796-1839) English engineer and surveyor, worked for coal company a) first detailed geologic map b) his detailed observations established Principle of Fossil Succession

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking


1. Actualism allows us to understand the past by studying the physical processes of the present. 2. The vast scale of geologic time gives us a framework for timing events, and permits long, long term processes. 3. Fossil succession allows us to document evolution and extinctions and provides a basis for correlation.

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking

III. 1860-1940 General Theories Lyell, Darwin et al 1. Charles Lyell (1797-1875) English naturalist a) Gradualism slow sequence of events throughout geologic time b) developed first detailed geologic time scale 2. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) English naturalist a) general theory of evolution b) natural selection as the force driving evolution c) published several geologic papers including on the evolution of coral islands based on Lyells work

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking

y Effects

Gradualism explained slow geologic processes and non-catastrophic changes.  2. The Theory of Evolution accounts for fossil succession.

Relevant Breakthroughs in Geologic Thinking

IV. 1940-date Effects of Technical Precision 1. Radiometric dating allows for absolute ordering and dating of geologic events. 2. Plate tectonics provided an understanding of global geologic processes. 3. Seismic instruments have facilitated global correlation of strata.

Incompleteness of Stratigraphic Record

The stratigraphic record is like the childs description of a net: lots of holes tied together with some string. D. Ager Stratigraphic Breaks missing parts of chronostratigraphic record Unconformity erosion surface separating strata with a significant amount of missing chronostratigraphic record

Types of Unconformities

I. Angular Unconformity II. Disconformity III. Nonconformity

Facies Stratigraphy

The consensus of geological opinion is that there are a finite number of sedimentary facies which occur repeatedly in rocks of different ages all over the world. Comparison with recent sediments suggests that these can be related to present-day depositional environments. R.C. Selley

Facies Stratigraphy
y Facies a set of strata informally defined by certain

y Sedimentary Facies a set of sedimentary rock

strata that can be distinguished from others by structures, paleocurrent, or fossils

y Sedimentary Environment the location where sed.

facies are deposited

Short Movie

Types of Environments

Fluvial river, stream Lacustrine lake Eolian wind Glacial - glacier

I. II.

Lobate delta Linear beach, barrier island Shelf Reef Deep Ocean

Sedimentary facies have their own unique stratigraphic sequences.

III. Marine

By mapping and studying sedimentary rocks, you can determine their diagenic environment or where it formed.


y Sedimentary facies can even give us information

about temperature.
y We call this climate signal. y Cold climate signal 5-in-1 Bedding y Warm climate signal Even Bedding

y By comparing the climates of modern depositional

environments, as well as their flora and fauna, to sedimentary facies in the rock record we can create a large scale picture of climate throughout earths history.
y We call this proxy data. Glacial facies are particularly

helpful for quaternary climate reconstruction.


y Class notes from Dr. David Kings class GEOL 4110:

Stratigraphy, Auburn University, Spring 2005 y YouTube y Google Images y Cuff, D.J., Goudie, A.S. The Oxford Companion to Global Climate Change, Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 2009 (p.483,c.2).