A stratigraphic unit is a volume of rock of identifiable origin and relative age range that is defined by the distinctive and dominant, easily mapped and recognizable petrographic, lithologic or paleontologic features (facies) that characterize it.
Rock or stone is a natural substance, a solid aggregate of one or more minerals or mineraloids. For example, granite, a common rock, is a combination of the minerals quartz, feldspar and biotite. The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock.
Petrology is the branch of geology that studies rocks and the conditions under which they form. Petrology has three subdivisions: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary petrology. Igneous and metamorphic petrology are commonly taught together because they both contain heavy use of chemistry, chemical methods, and phase diagrams. Sedimentary petrology is, on the other hand, commonly taught together with stratigraphy because it deals with the processes that form sedimentary rock.
The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples, or with low magnification microscopy. Physical characteristics include colour, texture, grain size, and composition. Lithology may refer to either a detailed description of these characteristics, or a summary of the gross physical character of a rock. Lithology is the basis of subdividing rock sequences into individual lithostratigraphic units for the purposes of mapping and correlation between areas. In certain applications, such as site investigations, lithology is described using a standard terminology such as in the European geotechnical standard Eurocode 7.
Units must be mappable and distinct from one another, but the contact need not be particularly distinct. For instance, a unit may be defined by terms such as "when the sandstone component exceeds 75%".
Sequences of sedimentary and volcanic rocks are subdivided on the basis of their lithology. Going from smaller to larger in scale, the main units recognised are Bed, Member, Formation, Group and Supergroup.
Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particles to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock are called sediment, and may be composed of geological detritus (minerals) or biological detritus. Before being deposited, the geological detritus was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Biological detritus was formed by bodies and parts of dead aquatic organisms, as well as their fecal mass, suspended in water and slowly piling up on the floor of water bodies. Sedimentation may also occur as dissolved minerals precipitate from water solution.
Volcanic rock is a rock formed from magma erupted from a volcano. In other words, it differs from other igneous rock by being of volcanic origin. Like all rock types, the concept of volcanic rock is artificial, and in nature volcanic rocks grade into hypabyssal and metamorphic rocks and constitute an important element of some sediments and sedimentary rocks. For these reasons, in geology, volcanics and shallow hypabyssal rocks are not always treated as distinct. In the context of Precambrian shield geology, the term "volcanic" is often applied to what are strictly metavolcanic rocks.
A bed is a lithologically distinct layer within a member or formation and is the smallest recognisable stratigraphic unit. These are not normally named, but may be in the case of a marker horizon.
Beds are the layers of sedimentary rocks that are distinctly different from overlying and underlying subsequent beds of different sedimentary rocks. Layers of beds are called stratigraphy or strata. They are formed from sedimentary rocks being deposited on the Earth's solid surface over a long periods of time. The stratigraphy are layered in the same order that they were deposited, allowing a differentiation of which beds are younger and which ones are older. The structure of a bed is determined by its bedding plane. Beds can be differentiated in various ways, including rock or mineral type and particle size. The term is generally applied to sedimentary strata, but may also be used for volcanic flows or ash layers.
Marker horizons or chronohorizons or marker beds are stratigraphic units of the same age and of such distinctive composition and appearance, that, despite their presence in separate geographic locations, there is no doubt about their being of equivalent age (isochronous) and of common origin. Such clear markers facilitate the correlation of strata, and used in conjunction with fossil floral and faunal assemblages and paleomagnetism, permit the mapping of land masses and bodies of water throughout the history of the earth.
A member is a named lithologically distinct part of a formation. Not all formations are subdivided in this way and even where they are recognized, they may only form part of the formation.
Formations are the primary units used in the subdivision of a sequence and may vary in scale from tens of centimetres to kilometres. They should be distinct lithologically from other formations, although the boundaries do not need to be sharp. To be formally recognised, a formation must have sufficient extent to be useful in mapping an area.
A group is a set of two or more formations that share certain lithological characteristics. A group may be made up of different formations in different geographical areas and individual formations may appear in more than one group.
A supergroup is a set of two or more associated groups and/or formations that share certain lithological characteristics. A supergroup may be made up of different groups in different geographical areas.
A sequence of fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks can be subdivided on the basis of the occurrence of particular fossil taxa. A unit defined in this way is known as a biostratigraphic unit, generally shortened to biozone.The five commonly used types of biozone are assemblage, range, abundance, interval and lineage zones.
Biostratigraphy is the branch of stratigraphy which focuses on correlating and assigning relative ages of rock strata by using the fossil assemblages contained within them. Usually the aim is correlation, demonstrating that a particular horizon in one geological section represents the same period of time as another horizon at some other section. The fossils are useful because sediments of the same age can look completely different because of local variations in the sedimentary environment. For example, one section might have been made up of clays and marls while another has more chalky limestones, but if the fossil species recorded are similar, the two sediments are likely to have been laid down at the same time.
Lithostratigraphy is a sub-discipline of stratigraphy, the geological science associated with the study of strata or rock layers. Major focuses include geochronology, comparative geology, and petrology. In general a stratum will be primarily igneous or sedimentary relating to how the rock was formed.
Chronostratigraphy is the branch of stratigraphy that studies the age of rock strata in relation to time.
Biostratigraphic unit or biozones are intervals of geological strata that are defined on the basis of their characteristic fossil taxa.
The Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the middle Abrahamskraal Formation, Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. The thickest outcrops, reaching approximately 2000m, occur from Merweville and Leeu-Gamka in its southernmost exposures, from Sutherland through to Beaufort West where outcrops start to only be found in the south-east, north of Oudshoorn and Willowmore, reaching up to areas south of Graaff-Reinet. Its northernmost exposures occur around the towns Fraserburg and Victoria West. The Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone is the second biozone of the Beaufort Group.
The Cistecephalus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone found in the Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a majorly fossiliferous and geologically important geological group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. This biozone has outcrops located in the Teekloof Formation north-west of Beaufort West in the Western Cape, in the upper Middleton and lower Balfour Formations respectively from Colesberg of the Northern Cape to east of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape. The Cistecephalus Assemblage Zone is one of eight biozones found in the Beaufort Group, and is considered to be Late Permian in age.
The Daptocephalus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone found in the Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a majorly fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. This biozone has outcrops located in the upper Teekloof formation west of 24°E, the majority of the Balfour formation east of 24°E, and the Normandien formation in the north. It has numerous localities which are spread out from Colesburg in the Northern Cape, Graaff-Reniet to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, and from Bloemfontein to Harrismith in the Free State. The Daptocephalus Assemblage Zone is one of eight biozones found in the Beaufort Group and is considered Late Permian (Lopingian) in age. Its contact with the overlying Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone marks the Permian-Triassic boundary.
The Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the upper Adelaide and lower Tarkastad subgroups of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. This biozone has outcrops in the south central Eastern Cape and in the southern and northeastern Free State. The Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone is one of eight biozones found in the Beaufort Group, and is considered to be Early Triassic in age.
The Cynognathus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the Burgersdorp Formation of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in the Karoo Basin of South Africa. The thickest outcrops of this biozone, reaching approximately 600 metres (2,000 ft), occur between Queenstown and Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape. Outcrops then thin out to between 200 and 100 metres around Aliwal North, Burgersdorp, Steynsburg, and Rouxville. Thin outcrops are also found in areas in the Free State that border Lesotho. The Cynognathus Assemblage Zone is the eighth and youngest of the eight biozones found in the Beaufort Group, and is considered to be early Middle Triassic.
The Pristerognathus Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the upper Abrahamskraal Formation and lowermost Teekloof Formation, Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. The thickest outcrops, reaching only 300m, occur just east of Sutherland through to Beaufort West in the south and Victoria West in the north. Exposures are also found west of Colesberg and south of Graaff-Reinet. The Pristerognathus Assemblage Zone is the third biozone of the Beaufort Group.
The Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the lower Teekloof Formation, Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. The thickest outcrops, reaching approximately 240 m, occur from east of Sutherland through to Beaufort West and Victoria West, to areas south of Graaff-Reinet. Its northernmost exposures occur west/north-west of Colesberg. The Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone is the fourth biozone of the Beaufort Group.
The Eodicynodon Assemblage Zone is a tetrapod assemblage zone or biozone which correlates to the Abrahamskraal Formation, Adelaide Subgroup of the Beaufort Group, a fossiliferous and geologically important geological Group of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. The thickest outcrops, reaching approximately 620 metres (2,030 ft), occur south-east of Sutherland, north of Prince Albert, and south-east of Beaufort West. The Eodicynodon Assemblage Zone is the lowermost biozone of the Beaufort Group.
In paleontology, biochronology is the correlation in time of biological events using fossils. In its strict sense, it refers to the use of assemblages of fossils that are not tied to stratigraphic sections. Collections of land mammal ages have been defined for every continent except Antarctica, and most are correlated with each other indirectly through known evolutionary lineages. A combination of argon–argon dating and magnetic stratigraphy allows a direct temporal comparison of terrestrial events with climate change and mass extinctions.
The Kitadani Formation is a unit of Lower Cretaceous sedimentary rock which crops out near the city of Katsuyama in the Fukui Prefecture of Japan, and it is the primary source of Cretaceous-aged non-marine vertebrate fossils in Japan. Dinosaur remains are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation, but it also preserves a diverse assemblage of plants, invertebrates, and other vertebrates. Most, if not all, of the fossil specimens collected from the Kitadani Formation are reposited at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.
The European Land Mammal Mega Zones are zones in rock layers that have a specific assemblage of fossils (biozones) based on occurrences of fossil assemblages of European land mammals. These biozones cover most of the Neogene and Paleogene systems. In cases when fossils of mammals are abundant, stratigraphers and paleontologists can use these biozones as a more practical regional alternative to the stages of the official ICS geologic timescale. European Land Mammal Mega Zones are often also confusingly referred to as ages, stages, or intervals.
Tropidostoma is a medium sized herbivorous oudenodontid dicynodont therapsid that lived during the Late Permian (Lopingian) period in South Africa. The first Tropidostoma fossil was described by Harry Govier Seeley in 1889. Later two subspecies were identified. Tropidostoma fossils are an index fossil in a biozone of the Karoo Basin known as the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone. This biozone is characterized by the presence of this species in association with another dicynodont species, Endothiodon uniseries.
The Norwich Crag Formation is a stratigraphic unit of the British Pleistocene Epoch. It is the second youngest unit of the Crag Group, a sequence of four geological formations spanning the Pliocene to Lower Pleistocene transition in East Anglia. It was deposited between approximately 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago, during the Gelasian Stage.
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.
In biostratigraphy, a subdiscipline of geology, a taxon-range zone is the zone between the highest and the lowest stratigraphic occurrence of a taxon. Taxon-range zones are one of the fundamental biozones used in biostratigraphy and are named after the taxon whose range they describe.
In geology, range offset is the time difference between the last fossil occurrence of a taxon and the actual disappearance of this taxon. Range offset can be used as a measure of biostratigraphic precision and determines among others how much information about extinctions can be derived from fossil occurrences.