A system in stratigraphy is a unit of rock layers that were laid down together within the same corresponding geological period. The associated period is a chronological time unit, a part of the geological time scale, while the system is a unit of chronostratigraphy. Systems are unrelated to lithostratigraphy, which subdivides rock layers on their lithology. Systems are subdivisions of erathems and are themselves divided into series and stages.
Systems in the geological timescale
The systems of the Phanerozoic were defined during the 19th century, beginning with the Cretaceous (by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in the Paris Basin) and the Carboniferous (by British geologists William Conybeare and William Phillips) in 1822). The Paleozoic and Mesozoic were divided into the currently used systems before the second half of the 19th century, except for a minor revision when the Ordovician system was added in 1879.
The Cenozoic has seen more recent revisions by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. It has been divided into three systems with the Paleogene and Neogene replacing the former Tertiary System though the succeeding Quaternary remains. The one-time system names of Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene are now series within the Paleogene and Neogene.
Another recent development is the official division of the Proterozoic into systems, which was decided in 2004.
|Segments of rock (strata) in chronostratigraphy||Time spans in geochronology||Notes to
|Eonothem||Eon||4 total, half a billion years or more|
|Erathem||Era||10 defined, several hundred million years|
|System||Period||22 defined, tens to ~one hundred million years|
|Series||Epoch||tens of millions of years|
|Stage||Age||millions of years|
|Chronozone||Chron||subdivision of an age, not used by the ICS timescale|
- Cohen, K.M.; Finney, S.; Gibbard, P.L. (2015), International Chronostratigraphic Chart (PDF), International Commission on Stratigraphy.
- Gehling, James; Jensen, Sören; Droser, Mary; Myrow, Paul; Narbonne, Guy (March 2001). "Burrowing below the basal Cambrian GSSP, Fortune Head, Newfoundland". Geological Magazine 138 (2): 213–218. doi:10.1017/S001675680100509X. 1.
- Hedberg, H.D., (editor), International stratigraphic guide: A guide to stratigraphic classification, terminology, and procedure, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1976
- International Stratigraphic Chart from the International Commission on Stratigraphy
- USA National Park Service
- Washington State University
- Web Geological Time Machine
- Eon or Aeon, Math Words - An alphabetical index
- The Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP): overview
- Chart of The Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP): chart
- Geotime chart displaying geologic time periods compared to the fossil record - Deals with chronology and classifications for laymen (not GSSPs)
- International Commission on Stratigraphy page on Chronostratigraphy : overview