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The identification and characterization of boundaries is a fundamental activity in geoscience. Spatial and temporal boundaries are rarely sharp but are more usually zones of transition, which may have variable characteristics. The examination of palynological and micropalaeontological data is often crucial for the delineation of geological boundaries, especially for the definition of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs). The sixteen papers in this volume highlight many productive methodological approaches to boundary identification. This essay reviews the theoretical background to boundary identification in geology, and provides the contextual perspective for the subsequent papers.

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