Terminologies


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Introduction

This "listing" of the terminology used by sequence stratigraphers has been under constant development since we began this site and the list is likely to remain incomplete. Compilation reflects our personal interests, experience and the inadequate time we are able to devote to building it. Sometimes what we have produced is incorrect, poorly written or illustrated. Please let us know if you find anything that you think is wrong or could be improved and we will try to correct our errors. If you have something that you think should be changed or could be added, please mail this to us with text and .jpg or .gif illustrations and we will put place these on the site and acknowledge your contribution. We welcome your help. This is our site but it is yours too!

We refer you to the debate on the Formalization of Sequence Stratigraphy methodology, surfaces, units and terminology launched by Octavian Catuneanu and Ashton Embry through the IWGSS (International Working Group on Sequence Stratigraphy) and the International Sub-commission on Stratigraphic Classification (ISSC) Task Group on Sequence Stratigraphy. Comments are posted for these groups so their manuscripts can be revised. As you can see differences in opinion exist. These are a reflection of a healthy difference in our understanding of this evolving science.

Philosophy on the use of terms

Krynine is alleged to have said that "stratigraphy is the triumph of terminology over common sense". At one time or another, anyone who has had anything to do with sequence stratigraphy has probably sympathized with Krynine's position. The science of sequence stratigraphy is replete with jargon. The "standardized" terminology listed and defined below, can be intimidating to learn. However it offers powerful tools for describing surfaces, strata, terminations, and other abstract concepts that are key to understanding the evolution of stratigraphic architecture.

Our personal advice to the users of sequence stratigraphy is that they concentrate on understanding the principles of this topic and how to use them. Never the less stratigraphy changes as do the models that explain what we see in the rock record. If our "current" terminology does not fit a particular configuration of the rocks being examined, then we should carefully define and describe this configuration, using terms we believe meet the needs of the situation, and move on. Purists may be disturbed by our usage, but so long as we have carefully defined what we mean, others really should have no quarrel with us. Science evolves and changes and we should accommodate our language to meet these changes. Most people who are advocating changes to the list below are serious scientists with genuine arguments against some of the current usage within specific geological settings.

In other words, use the terminology that suits you best but define this terminology as carefully as you can, preferably using colloquial language. At the same time we do not to advocate arbitrarily changing terms to give them a personalized gee-whiz pizzazz, anymore than we would argue for Humpty Dumpty's position from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - nothing more nor less".

Thursday, July 24, 2014
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