Concept and Definitions in Cyclostratigraphy (Second Report of the Cyclostratigraphy Working Group): International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature of the IUGS Commission on Stratigraphy
Published:January 01, 2004
Fredrik Hilgen, Walther Schwarzacher, André Strasser, 2004. "Concept and Definitions in Cyclostratigraphy (Second Report of the Cyclostratigraphy Working Group): International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature of the IUGS Commission on Stratigraphy", Cyclostratigraphy: Approaches and Case Histories, Bruno D’Argenio, Alfred G. Fischer, Isabella Premoli Silva, Helmut Weissert, Vittoria Ferreri
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The application of sedimentary cycles in geochronology goes back into the 19th century, when Gilbert (1895) correctly linked repetitive limestone-shale alternations to the astronomical cycle of precession to determine the absolute duration of part of the Cretaceous. However, because of the of ten poor age control, geologists remained reluctant to link such repetitive changes to cyclic processes with identifiable time periods and often considered them to result from stochastic processes. As a consequence,the term sedimentary cycle was often defined in a purely descriptive sense to indicate “… recurrent sequences of strata each consisting of several lithologically distinctive members arranged in the same order” (Weller 1960).
However, owing to improved age control and break through studies of Pleistocene glacial cyclicity in marine cores, we now can use sedimentary cycles and cyclic changes in climatic proxy records with identifiable time periods for improving the resolution and accuracy of the geological time scale and for understanding natural climate variability. The cyclic changes in the sedimentary record referred to above are related to climate variations that are ultimately controlled by variations in the shape of the Earth’s orbit and the inclination of its rotational axis. They are often called Milankovitch cycles, after the Serbian astronomer Milutan Milankovitch for his milestone contribution in linking orbital variation to the climatic changes of the Earth (Milankovitch, 1941).
At about the same time as the revival of Milankovitch cyclicity, the increasing concern about man-induced global warming spurred a host of detailed paleoclimatic
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Cyclostratigraphy: Approaches and Case Histories
This volume is derived from an SEPM international workshop entitled Multidisciplinary Approach to Cyclostratigraphy, organized by the editors in May 2001 and held in Sorrento (Naples, Italy). In the Introduction we offer a brief history of how concepts of orbital cyclicity and its effects on the Earth evolved, an appraisal of the present state of research, and an overview of the papers in this volume. The main body of the volume consists of the contributed studies. These include a paper on conceptual and pragmatic approaches to stratification cycles by one of the pioneers of cyclostratigraphy, Walther Schwarzacher, who, in the 1940s, discovered the hierarchical expression of orbital cycles in rocks. The other contributions are specific studies of cyclic sequences, extending from the Quaternary back to the Triassic, covering the range from continental deposits to the deep sea, and employing a wide variety of techniques for extracting and processing the information.