Terrestrial stratigraphical division in the Quaternary and its correlation

P.l. Gibbard, P.d. Hughes

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Initially, terrestrial evidence formed the foundation for the division of Quaternary time. However, since the 1970s there has been an abandonment of the terrestrial stage chronostratigraphy, which is based on locally-dominated successions, in favour of the marine oxygen isotope stratigraphy which largely records global-scale changes in ice volume. However, it is now clear that glacial records around the world are asynchronous, even at the scale of the continental ice sheets which display marked contrasts in extent and timing in different glacial cycles. Consequently, the marine isotope record does not reflect global patterns of glaciation, nor other terrestrial processes, on land. This has led to inappropriate correlation of terrestrial records with the marine isotopic record. The low resolution of the latter has led to a preferential shift towards high-resolution ice-core records for global correlation. However, even in the short-term, most terrestrial records display spatial variation in response to global climate fluctuations, and changes recorded on land are often diachronous, asynchronous or both, leading to difficulties in global correlation. Thus, whilst the marine and the ice-core records are very useful in providing global frameworks through time, it must be recognised that there exist significant problems and challenges for terrestrial correlation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)jgs2020-134
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Early online date23 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2020


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