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Abstract:

The Permian timescale has developed over about two centuries of research to the current chronostratigraphic scale advocated by the Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy of three series and nine stages: Cisuralian (lower Permian) – Asselian, Sakmarian, Artinskian, Kungurian; Guadalupian (middle Permian) – Roadian, Wordian, Capitanian; and Lopingian (upper Permian) – Wuchiapingian and Changhsingian. The boundaries of the Permian System are defined by global stratotype sections and points (GSSPs) and the numerical ages of those boundaries appear to be determined with a precision better than 1‰. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done to refine the Permian timescale. Precise numerical age control within the Permian is very uneven and a global polarity timescale for the Permian is far from established. Chronostratigraphic definitions of three of the nine Permian stages remain unfinished and various issues of marine biostratigraphy are still unresolved. In the non-marine Permian realm, much progress has been made in correlation, especially using palynomorphs, megafossil plants, conchostracans and both the footprints and bones of tetrapods (amphibians and reptiles), but many problems of correlation remain, especially the cross-correlation of non-marine and marine chronologies. The further development of a Permian chronostratigraphic scale faces various problems, including those of stability and priority of nomenclature and concepts, disagreements over changing taxonomy, ammonoid v. fusulinid v. conodont biostratigraphy, differences in the perceived significance of biotic events for chronostratigraphic classification and correlation problems between provinces. Future research on the Permian timescale should focus on GSSP selection for the remaining undefined stage bases, the definition and characterization of substages, and further development and integration of the Permian chronostratigraphic scale with radioisotopic, magnetostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic tools for calibration and correlation.

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