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Time in stratigraphy is derived from measuring the thickness of accumulated sediment. The quality of a time scale depends on the uniformity of the sedimentation. By subdividing a section using markers such as beds or cycles the uniformity of a section can be evaluated. By assuming that similar beds represent similar time intervals accumulation rates can be estimated. A cumulative plot of bed thickness against number tends towards a straight line if the sedimentation is uniform. Deviations from the straight line are due to both changes in accumulation rates and changes in the length of the time “unit”. Examples from Pliocene varves and Cenomanian limestones are used to demonstrate the use of beds and cycles as markers. The inaccuracies of timescales should be remembered when interpreting cyclic records.

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