Roderick Impey Murchison's book on The Silurian System was published in January 1839 and immediately established stratigraphical and palaeontological standards for the subsequent classification and correlation of Lower Palaeozoic rocks throughout the world. Over 150 years later this classic work still forms a cornerstone on which studies of the Silurian Period are based. In recognition and celebration of the sesquicentenary of publication, an international conference was held at the University of Keele, Staffordshire from 28 March to 3 April 1989, followed by a field excursion through the Welsh Borderland and Wales from 4 April until 9 April inclusive. Appropriately entitled 'The Murchison Symposium', the conference was the first international meeting devoted specifically to the study of Silurian geology.

The IUGS Subcommission on Silurian Stratigraphy, The Palaeontological Association, The Geological Society of London and The Geologists' Association provided an umbrella of sponsorship, with additional generous support being given by a number of companies and organizations. M. G. Bassett and P. D. Laneacted as convenors, backed up by an organizing committee comprisingR. J. Aldridge, Lesley Cherns, Dianne Edwards, R. M. Owens, David J. Siveter, Derek J. Siveter, and A. T. Thomas.Over 100 delegates attended from 15 countries. The 49 lectures were organized into thematic sessions covering, respectively, Palaeobiogeography, Geotectonics, Historical Aspects, Sedimentology and Biostratigraphy, Atmosphere and Ocean, and Silurian Life, followed by a Synthesis of the key points to emerge from the meeting. Each theme opened with a global overview, followed by more regional papers.

As a preface to

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