Global Standard Stratigraphic Age

Global Standard Stratigraphic Age

Global Standard Stratigraphic Age

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In the stratigraphy sub-discipline of geology, a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age, officially abbreviated GSSA, is a chronological reference point and criterion in the world's rock records used to define the boundaries (an internationally sanctioned benchmark point) between different geological periods, epoch or ages on the overall geologic time scale in a chronostratigraphically useful rock layer. A worldwide multidisciplinary effort has been ongoing since 1974 to define such important metrics. But such work goes slowly despite a lot of effort, as one criterion is such points and strata need be widespread and contain an identifiable sequence of layers or other unambiguous marker (identifiable or quantifiable) attributes.

GSSAs, and the generally more recent and preferred benchmark GSSPs (below) are defined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) under the auspices of their parent organization, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and are used primarily for time dating of rock layers older than 630 million years ago (), before a good fossil record exists. The ICS first expends large effort to meet the standards of the GSSPs (see below) and if those fail, usually have enough information to make a preliminary selection of several competing GSSA prospects or proposals.

The geologic record becomes spotty at about 542 , and the ICS may well have to resort to defining additional supplementary GSSAs between the two dates. This issue is bound up in...
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