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Research in stratigraphy is increasingly multidisciplinary and conducted by diverse research teams whose members can be widely separated. This developing distributed-research process, facilitated by the availability of the Internet, promises tremendous future benefits to researchers. However, its full potential is hindered by the absence of a development strategy for the necessary infrastructure. At a National Science Foundation workshop convened in November 2001, thirty quantitative stratigraphers and database specialists from both academia and industry met to discuss how best to integrate their respective chronostratigraphic databases. The main goal was to develop a strategy that would allow efficient distribution and integration of existing data relevant to the study of geologic time.

Discussions concentrated on three major themes: database standards and compatibility, strategies and tools for information retrieval and analysis of all types of global and regional stratigraphic data, and future directions for database integration and centralization of currently distributed depositories. The result was a recommendation to establish an integrated chronostratigraphic database, to be called Chronos, which would facilitate greater efficiency in stratigraphic studies ( The Chronos system will both provide greater ease of data gathering and allow for multidisciplinary synergies, functions of fundamental importance in a variety of research, including time scale construction, paleoenvironmental analysis, paleoclimatology and paleoceanography. Beyond scientific research, Chronos will also provide educational and societal benefits by providing an accessible source of information of general interest (e.g., mass extinctions) and concern (e.g., climatic change). The National Science Foundation has currently funded a three-year program for implementing Chronos.

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