|443.8 ± 1.5 – 419.2 ± 3.2 Ma|
|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|First proposed by||Roderick Murchison, 1835|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition||FAD of the Graptolite Akidograptus ascensus|
|Lower boundary GSSP|| Dob's Linn, Moffat, UK |
|Upper boundary definition||FAD of the Graptolite Monograptus uniformis|
|Upper boundary GSSP|| Klonk, Prague, Czechia |
|Atmospheric and climatic data|
|Mean atmospheric O|
|c. 14 vol %|
(70 % of modern)
|Mean atmospheric CO|
|c. 4500 ppm |
(16 times pre-industrial)
|Mean surface temperature||c. 17 °C|
(3 °C above modern)
|Sea level above present day||Around 180m, with short-term negative excursions|
The Silurian ( /, -/ sih-LYOOR-ee-ən, sy-) is a geologic period and system spanning 24.6 million years from the end of the Ordovician Period, at 443.8 million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Devonian Period, 419.2 Mya. The Silurian is the shortest period of the Paleozoic Era. As with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period's start and end are well identified, but the exact dates are uncertain by a few million years. The base of the Silurian is set at a series of major Ordovician–Silurian extinction events when up to 60% of marine genera were wiped out.
A significant evolutionary milestone during the Silurian was the diversification of jawed fish and bony fish. Multi-cellular life also began to appear on land in the form of small, bryophyte-like and vascular plants that grew beside lakes, streams, and coastlines, and terrestrial arthropods are also first found on land during the Silurian. However, terrestrial life would not greatly diversify and affect the landscape until the Devonian.
The Silurian system was first identified by British geologist Roderick Murchison, who was examining fossil-bearing sedimentary rock strata in south Wales in the early 1830s. He named the sequences for a Celtic tribe of Wales, the Silures, inspired by his friend Adam Sedgwick, who had named the period of his study the Cambrian, from the Latin name for Wales.This naming does not indicate any correlation between the occurrence of the Silurian rocks and the land inhabited by the Silures (cf. Geologic map of Wales, Map of pre-Roman tribes of Wales). In 1835 the two men presented a joint paper, under the title On the Silurian and Cambrian Systems, Exhibiting the Order in which the Older Sedimentary Strata Succeed each other in England and Wales, which was the germ of the modern geological time scale. As it was first identified, the "Silurian" series when traced farther afield quickly came to overlap Sedgwick's "Cambrian" sequence, however, provoking furious disagreements that ended the friendship.
Charles Lapworth resolved the conflict by defining a new Ordovician system including the contested beds.An alternative name for the Silurian was "Gotlandian" after the strata of the Baltic island of Gotland.
The French geologist Joachim Barrande, building on Murchison's work, used the term Silurian in a more comprehensive sense than was justified by subsequent knowledge. He divided the Silurian rocks of Bohemia into eight stages.His interpretation was questioned in 1854 by Edward Forbes, and the later stages of Barrande; F, G and H have since been shown to be Devonian. Despite these modifications in the original groupings of the strata, it is recognized that Barrande established Bohemia as a classic ground for the study of the earliest Silurian fossils.
The Llandovery Epoch lasted from to mya, and is subdivided into three stages: the Rhuddanian, lasting until , the Aeronian, lasting to , and the Telychian. The epoch is named for the town of Llandovery in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
The Wenlock, which lasted from to mya, is subdivided into the Sheinwoodian (to ) and Homerian ages. It is named after Wenlock Edge in Shropshire, England. During the Wenlock, the oldest-known tracheophytes of the genus Cooksonia , appear. The complexity of slightly later Gondwana plants like Baragwanathia , which resembled a modern clubmoss, indicates a much longer history for vascular plants, extending into the early Silurian or even Ordovician.[ citation needed ] The first terrestrial animals also appear in the Wenlock, represented by air-breathing millipedes from Scotland.
The Ludlow lasted from to mya. It is named for the town of Ludlow in Shropshire, England. The Ludlow comprises the Gorstian stage (lasting until ) and the Ludfordian stage (named for Ludford, also in Shropshire).
The Přídolí Epoch, lasting from to mya, is the final and shortest epoch of the Silurian. It is named after one locality at the Homolka a Přídolí nature reserve near the Prague suburb Slivenec in the Czech Republic. Přídolí is the old name of a cadastral field area.
In North America a different suite of regional stages is sometimes used:
In Estonia the following suite of regional stages is used:
In Lithuania the following suite of regional stages is used:
With the supercontinent Gondwana covering the equator and much of the southern hemisphere, a large ocean occupied most of the northern half of the globe.The high sea levels of the Silurian and the relatively flat land (with few significant mountain belts) resulted in a number of island chains, and thus a rich diversity of environmental settings.
During the Silurian, Gondwana continued a slow southward drift to high southern latitudes, but there is evidence that the Silurian icecaps were less extensive than those of the late-Ordovician glaciation. The southern continents remained united during this period. The melting of icecaps and glaciers contributed to a rise in sea level, recognizable from the fact that Silurian sediments overlie eroded Ordovician sediments, forming an unconformity. The continents of Avalonia, Baltica, and Laurentia drifted together near the equator, starting the formation of a second supercontinent known as Euramerica.
When the proto-Europe collided with North America, the collision folded coastal sediments that had been accumulating since the Cambrian off the east coast of North America and the west coast of Europe. This event is the Caledonian orogeny, a spate of mountain building that stretched from New York State through conjoined Europe and Greenland to Norway. At the end of the Silurian, sea levels dropped again, leaving telltale basins of evaporites extending from Michigan to West Virginia, and the new mountain ranges were rapidly eroded. The Teays River, flowing into the shallow mid-continental sea, eroded Ordovician Period strata, forming deposits of Silurian strata in northern Ohio and Indiana.
The vast ocean of Panthalassa covered most of the northern hemisphere. Other minor oceans include two phases of the Tethys, the Proto-Tethys and Paleo-Tethys, the Rheic Ocean, the Iapetus Ocean (a narrow seaway between Avalonia and Laurentia), and the newly formed Ural Ocean.
The Silurian Period enjoyed relatively stable and warm temperatures, in contrast with the extreme glaciations of the Ordovician before it, and the extreme heat of the ensuing Devonian. Sea levels rose from their Hirnantian low throughout the first half of the Silurian; they subsequently fell throughout the rest of the period, although smaller scale patterns are superimposed on this general trend; fifteen high-stands (periods when sea levels were above the edge of the continental shelf) can be identified, and the highest Silurian sea level was probably around 140 m higher than the lowest level reached.
During this period, the Earth entered a long, warm greenhouse phase, supported by high CO2 levels of 4500 ppm, and warm shallow seas covered much of the equatorial land masses. Early in the Silurian, glaciers retreated back into the South Pole until they almost disappeared in the middle of Silurian. The period witnessed a relative stabilization of the Earth's general climate, ending the previous pattern of erratic climatic fluctuations. Layers of broken shells (called coquina) provide strong evidence of a climate dominated by violent storms generated then as now by warm sea surfaces. Later in the Silurian, the climate cooled slightly, but closer to the Silurian-Devonian boundary, the climate became warmer.[ citation needed ]
The climate and carbon cycle appear to be rather unsettled during the Silurian, which had a higher concentration of isotopic excursions[ clarification needed ] than any other period. The Ireviken event, Mulde event and Lau event each represent isotopic excursions following a minor mass extinction and associated with rapid sea-level change, in addition to the larger extinction at the end of the Silurian. Each one leaves a similar signature in the geological record, both geochemically and biologically; pelagic (free-swimming) organisms were particularly hard hit, as were brachiopods, corals and trilobites, and extinctions rarely occur in a rapid series of fast bursts.
The Silurian was the first period to see megafossils of extensive terrestrial biota, in the form of moss-like miniature forests along lakes and streams. However, the land fauna did not have a major impact on the Earth until it diversified in the Devonian.
The first fossil records of vascular plants, that is, land plants with tissues that carry water and food, appeared in the second half of the Silurian Period. cm. The plant shows a high degree of development in relation to the age of its fossil remains. Fossils of this plant have been recorded in Australia, Canada, and China. Eohostimella heathana is an early, probably terrestrial, "plant" known from compression fossils of Early Silurian (Llandovery) age. The chemistry of its fossils is similar to that of fossilised vascular plants, rather than algae.The earliest-known representatives of this group are Cooksonia . Most of the sediments containing Cooksonia are marine in nature. Preferred habitats were likely along rivers and streams. Baragwanathia appears to be almost as old, dating to the early Ludlow (420 million years) and has branching stems and needle-like leaves of 10–20
The first bony fish, the Osteichthyes, appeared, represented by the Acanthodians covered with bony scales. Fish reached considerable diversity and developed movable jaws, adapted from the supports of the front two or three gill arches. A diverse fauna of eurypterids (sea scorpions)—some of them several meters in length—prowled the shallow Silurian seas of North America; many of their fossils have been found in New York state. Leeches also made their appearance during the Silurian Period. Brachiopods, bryozoa, molluscs, hederelloids, tentaculitoids, crinoids and trilobites were abundant and diverse.[ citation needed ] Endobiotic symbionts were common in the corals and stromatoporoids.
Reef abundance was patchy; sometimes, fossils are frequent, but at other points, are virtually absent from the rock record.
The earliest-known animals fully adapted to terrestrial conditions appear during the Mid-Silurian, including the millipede Pneumodesmus .Some evidence also suggests the presence of predatory trigonotarbid arachnoids and myriapods in Late Silurian facies. Predatory invertebrates would indicate that simple food webs were in place that included non-predatory prey animals. Extrapolating back from Early Devonian biota, Andrew Jeram et al. in 1990 suggested a food web based on as-yet-undiscovered detritivores and grazers on micro-organisms.
|volume=has extra text (help) From p. 748: "D'accord avec ces divisions, on distingue communément dans le silurien trois étages: l'étage inférieur ou cambrien (1) ; l'étage moyen ou ordovicien (2) ; l'étage supérieur ou gothlandien (3)." (In agreement with these divisions, one generally distinguishes, within the Silurian, three stages: the lower stage or Cambrian ; the middle stage or Ordovician ; the upper stage or Gotlandian .)
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, and of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, and its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established as "Cambrian series" by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name for 'Cymru' (Wales), where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. Sedgwick identified the layer as part of his task, along with Roderick Murchison, to subdivide the large "Transition Series", although the two geologists disagreed for a while on the appropriate categorization. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells. As a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some later periods.
The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60.3 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, England, where rocks from this period were first studied.
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.6 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya.
The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.
John William Salter was an English naturalist, geologist, and palaeontologist.
A scolecodont is the jaw of a polychaete annelid, a common type of fossil-producing segmented worm useful in invertebrate paleontology. Scolecodonts are common and diverse microfossils, which range from the Cambrian period to the present. They diversified profusely in the Ordovician, and are most common in the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian marine deposits of the Paleozoic era.
Cooksonia is an extinct group of primitive land plants, treated as a genus, although probably not monophyletic. The earliest Cooksonia date from the middle of the Silurian ; the group continued to be an important component of the flora until the end of the Early Devonian, a total time span of. While Cooksonia fossils are distributed globally, most type specimens come from Britain, where they were first discovered in 1937. Cooksonia includes the oldest known plant to have a stem with vascular tissue and is thus a transitional form between the primitive non-vascular bryophytes and the vascular plants.
The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) is produced by the UK's Joint Nature Conservation Committee and is designed to identify those sites of national and international importance needed to show all the key scientific elements of the geological and geomorphological features of Britain. These sites display sediments, rocks, minerals, fossils, and features of the landscape that make a special contribution to an understanding and appreciation of Earth science and the geological history of Britain, which stretches back more than three billion years. The intention of the project, which was devised in 1974 by George Black and William Wimbledon working for the Governmental advisory agency, the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), was activated in 1977. It aimed to provide the scientific rationale and information base for the conservation of geological SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest, protected under British law. The NCC and country conservation agencies were established in 1990 when JNCC became established and took over responsibility for managing the GCR site assessment process, and publishing accounts of accepted sites.
In the geologic timescale, the Ludfordian is the upper of two chronostratigraphic stages within the Ludlow Series. Its age is the late Silurian Period, and within both the Palaeozoic Era and Phanerozoic Eon. The rocks assigned to the Ludfordian date to between 425.6 ± 0.9 Ma and 423.0 ± 2.3 Ma. The Ludfordian Stage succeeds the Gorstian Stage and precedes the Pridoli Epoch. It is named for the village of Ludford in Shropshire, England. The GSSP for the Ludfordian is represented as a thin shale seam, coincident with the base of the Leintwardine Formation, overlying the Bringewood Formation in England.
In the geological timescale, the Llandovery Epoch occurred at the beginning of the Silurian Period. The Llandoverian Epoch follows the massive Ordovician-Silurian extinction events, which led to a large decrease in biodiversity and an opening up of ecosystems.
The geology of Illinois includes extensive deposits of marine sedimentary rocks from the Palaeozoic, as well as relatively minor contributions from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Ice age glaciation left a wealth of glacial topographic features throughout the state.
Ornatifilum is an artificial form genus, which is used to categorise any small, branched filaments with external ornamentation.
Polysporangiophytes, also called polysporangiates or formally Polysporangiophyta, are plants in which the spore-bearing generation (sporophyte) has branching stems (axes) that bear sporangia. The name literally means many sporangia plant. The clade includes all land plants (embryophytes) except for the bryophytes whose sporophytes are normally unbranched, even if a few exceptional cases occur. While the definition is independent of the presence of vascular tissue, all living polysporangiophytes also have vascular tissue, i.e., are vascular plants or tracheophytes. Extinct polysporangiophytes are known that have no vascular tissue, and so are not tracheophytes.
This article attempts to place key plant innovations in a geological context. It concerns itself only with novel adaptations and events that had a major ecological significance, not those that are of solely anthropological interest. The timeline displays a graphical representation of the adaptations; the text attempts to explain the nature and robustness of the evidence.
Gotland is made up of a sequence of sedimentary rocks of a Silurian age, dipping to the south-east. The main Silurian succession of limestones and shales comprises thirteen units spanning 200–500 m (660–1,640 ft) of stratigraphic thickness, being thickest in the south, and overlies a 75–125 m (246–410 ft) thick Ordovician sequence. Precambrian shield rocks that underlie these sediments are found 400 to 500 meters sea level. Sedimentary rocks cropping out in Gotland were deposited in a shallow, hot and salty sea, on the edge of an equatorial continent. The water depth never exceeded 175–200 m (574–656 ft), and shallowed over time as bioherm detritus, and terrestrial sediments, filled the basin. Reef growth started in the Llandovery, when the sea was 50–100 m (160–330 ft) deep, and reefs continued to dominate the sedimentary record. Some sandstones are present in the youngest rocks towards the south of the island, which represent sand bars deposited very close to the shore line.
In the geologic timescale, the Přídolí Epoch is the uppermost subdivision of the Silurian Period, dated at between 423 ± 2.3 and 419.2 ± 3.2 mya. The Přídolí Epoch succeeds the Ludfordian Stage and precedes the Lochkovian, the lowest of three stages within the Lower Devonian geological epoch. It is named after one locality at the Homolka a Přídolí nature reserve near the Prague suburb, Slivenec, in the Czech Republic. The GSSP is located within the Požáry Formation, overlying the Kopanina Formation. Přídolí is the old name of a cadastral field area.
Junggaria was a genus of rhyniophyte-like land plants known from fossils found in China in Upper Silurian strata. It bore leafless dichotomously or pseudomonopodially branching axes, some of which ended in spore-forming organs or sporangia of complex shape. The genus Cooksonella, found in Kazakhstan from deposits of a similar age, is considered to be an illegitimate synonym.
Conodonts are an extinct class of animals whose feeding apparatuses called teeth or elements are common microfossils found in strata dating from the Stage 10 of the Furongian, the fourth and final series of the Cambrian, to the Rhaetian stage of the Late Triassic. These elements can be used alternatively to or in correlation with other types of fossils in the subfield of the stratigraphy named biostratigraphy.
The Bertie Group or Bertie Limestone, also referred to as the Bertie Dolomite and the Bertie Formation, is an upper Silurian geologic group and Lagerstätte in southern Ontario, Canada, and western New York State, United States. Details of the type locality and of stratigraphic nomenclature for this unit as used by the U.S. Geological Survey are available on-line at the National Geologic Map Database. The formation comprises dolomites, limestones and shales and reaches a thickness of 495 feet (151 m) in the subsurface, while in outcrop the group can be 60 feet (18 m) thick.
The Douglas Lake Member is a geologic unit of member rank of the Lenoir Limestone that overlies the Mascot Dolomite and underlies typical nodular member of the Lenoir Limestone in Douglas Lake, Tennessee, region. It fills depressions that are part of a regional unconformity at the base of Middle Ordovician strata, locally the Lenoir Limestone, that separates them from the underlying Lower Ordovician strata, locally the Knox Group.
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