Reconciling Changes to the Geologic Time Scale, in the U.S. Geologic Names Lexicon

Monday, 15 December 2014
David R Soller and Nancy R Stamm, USGS Headquarters, Reston, VA, United States
The U.S. Geologic Names Lexicon (“Geolex”, http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Geolex/), is a standard reference for the Nation's stratigraphic nomenclature. Geolex's content is drawn from the literature published since the late 1800's. Since that time, modifications to the geologic time scale have been significant, particularly in recent decades (e.g., the Ordovician, Carboniferous, Permian, and Quaternary), owing in part to more precise biostratigraphic zonations and advances in isotopic dating techniques. Because the definitions of geologic time intervals have been modified as more information is gathered, interpreted, and published, the geologic age of a unit as stated in a report published in, for example, 1950, may be different according to today's time scale.

In order to ensure that people can search Geolex for geologic units according to today’s time scale, we have updated to the modern time scale the age estimates for many geologic units. These updated age estimates are shown in Geolex’s "Unit Summary" pages; the ages as originally determined are preserved in the synopsis for each publication. This presentation will focus on our methodology.