GSSPs, global stratigraphy and correlation

Smith, Alan G.; Barry, Tiffany; Bown, Paul; Cope, John; Gale, Andy; Gibbard, Philip; Gregory, John; Hounslow, Mark; Kemp, David; Knox, Robert; Marshall, John; Oates, Michael; Rawson, Peter; Powell, John; Waters, Colin. 2015 GSSPs, global stratigraphy and correlation. In: Smith, D.G., (ed.) Strata and time : probing the gaps in our understanding. London, UK, Geological Society of London, 37-67. (Geological Society Special Publication, 404, 404).

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Procedures used to define an international chronostratigraphic stage boundary and to locate and ratify a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) are outlined. A majority of current GSSPs use biostratigraphic data as primary markers with no reference to any physico-chemical markers, despite the International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification (ISSC) suggestion that such markers should be included if possible. It is argued that such definitions will not produce the high-precision Phanerozoic time scale necessary to understand such phenomena as pre-Pleistocene ice ages and global climate change. It is strongly recommended that all GSSPs should have physico-chemical markers as an integral part of their guiding criteria, and where such markers cannot be found, the GSSP should be relocated. The methods and approach embodied in oceanic stratigraphy – coring, logging, analysing and archiving of drill sites by numerous experts using a wide range of methods – could usefully serve as a scientific model for the analysis and archiving of GSSPs, all of which are on the present-day continents. The incorporation of many more stratigraphic sections into GSSP studies, the application of physico-chemical methods, and the replacement of old U–Pb dates by newer CA-TIMS U–Pb dates, together with the use of constrained optimization (CONOP) programs that produce a calendar of events from many sections, should lead to much more precise timescales for pre-Cenozoic time than are currently available.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0305-8719
Date made live: 06 Jul 2015 12:27 +0 (UTC)

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