The Permian chronostratigraphic scale: history, status and prospectus
In 1841, Murchison coined the term Permian for strata in the Russian Urals. Recognition of the Permian outside of Russia and central Europe soon followed, but it took about a century for the Permian to be accepted globally as a distinct geological system. The work of the Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy began in the 1970s and resulted in current recognition of nine Permian stages in three series: the Cisuralian (lower Permian) – Asselian, Sakmarian, Artinskian and Kungurian; the Guadalupian (middle Permian) – Roadian, Wordian and Capitanian; and the Lopingian (upper Permian) – Wuchiapingian and Changhsingian. The 1990s saw the rise of Permian conodont biostratigraphy, so that all Permian Global Stratigraphic Sections and Points (GSSPs) use conodont evolutionary events as the primary signal for correlation.
Issues in the development of a Permian chronostratigraphic scale include 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. Further development of the Permian chronostratigraphic scale should focus on GSSP selection for the remaining, undefined stage bases, definition and characterization of substages, and further integration of the Permian chronostratigraphic scale with radioisotopic, magnetostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic tools for calibration and correlation.
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The Palaeozoic Era ends with the c. 47-million-year-long Permian Period. This was a major juncture in Earth history when the vast Pangean supercontinent continued its assembly and the global biota suffered the most extensive biotic decimation of the Phanerozoic, the end-Permian mass extinction. It was also the time of accumulation of vast mineral and energy deposits, notably of salt and petroleum. The temporal ordering of geological and biotic events during Permian time is, therefore, critical to the interpretation of some unique and pivotal events in Earth history. This temporal ordering is based mostly on the Permian timescale, which has been developed and refined for nearly two centuries. This book reviews the history of the development of the Permian chronostratigraphic scale. It also includes comprehensive analyses of Permian radioisotopic ages, magnetostratigraphy, isotope-based correlations, and timescale-relevant marine and non-marine biostratigraphy and biochronology.