The concept of major rock-stratigraphic units of interregional scope was introduced in 1948 (Longwell, 1949). It is now possible to restate the concept and to define more explicitly the sequences delimited by interregional unconformities in the continental interior of North America.
The sedimentary record of the North American craton from late Precambrian to present is characterized by six major unconformities. These interregional unconformities subdivide the cratonic stratigraphic column into six sequences—major rock-stratigraphic units (of higher than group, megagroup, or supergroup rank) which can be identified, where preserved, in all cratonic interior areas. At the cratonic margins the bounding unconformities tend to disappear in continuous successions, and the cratonic sequences are replaced by others controlled by events in the marginal basins and eugeosynclinal borders.
Although the time values of the unconformities vary widely because of differences in degree of nondeposition and amount of erosion, the approximate dates of the regressional maxima represented are: (1) very late Precambrian, (2) early Middle Ordovician, (3) early Middle Devonian, (4) “post-Elvira” Mississippian, (5) early Middle Jurassic, and (6) late Paleocene. A seventh major regression is now in progress.