Formal Quaternary stratigraphy—What do we expect and need? •

Shackleton, N. J. (2007) Formal Quaternary stratigraphy—What do we expect and need? •. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25 (23-24). pp. 3458-3462. DOI

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At the start of my INQUA career a reasonable target for the long-term development of Quaternary stratigraphy was the construction of a table that listed a number (perhaps fewer than a dozen, perhaps more) of “stages” for each of the chief regions of the Earth, and which reliably indicated how these stages should be correlated from region to region. A second target was to estimate ages for the stage boundaries. Finally, some workers may have looked towards a series of “global stages” with the hope that these would be defined in their own region rather than in the Alps. For some researchers the target has not changed, nor does its attainment appear much closer. However, there are now many whose requirement is that we create time-series of environmental and climatic change with ever-increasing temporal resolution, along with correlation lines that are precise enough to permit global synoptic reconstruction. Funding for this research is justified partly on the grounds that it will give us increased confidence in our ability to forecast climatic change during the next century. Hence, far from only being of academic interest, long-term planning of energy-based economies indirectly depends upon it. There is a danger that some excellent research by members of the INQUA community becomes marginalized because the stratigraphic framework through which the research is communicated does not meet modern requirements. Oxygen isotope stratigraphy as it was quasi-formalized by Shackleton and Opdyke (1973 and 1976) only applies to marine sediments containing Foraminifera suitable for oxygen isotope analysis. On the other hand there can be no doubt that as an informal standard means of communication, oxygen isotope stratigraphy has been incredibly valuable even in settings where it is very hard to justify its use. Formal stratigraphy is intended to enable precise communication (in research publications and in maps) and I believe that in this regard there is more to be gained by improving correlation to the ocean oxygen isotope record, than by working to define stage boundary stratotypes with continent-scale utility.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: IA53 2006 P
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Journal or Publication Title: Quaternary Science Reviews
Volume: 25
Page Range: pp. 3458-3462
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2009 13:03
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:08

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