International Commission on Stratigraphy

stratigraphical nomenclature

Stratigraphic Guide

The Guide is to promote agreements on classification so that terminologies can be developed which will be accepted internationally.

Major divisions

Their origin and age identify some of the major divisions of the rock. Dominant and petrographic features define the age of the rocks.

Regional divisions

Regional stratigraphic division usually covers the real stratigraphic subdivisions.

Annual reports

Annual Reports on rocks are generated based on client reports.

 Classification, Nomenclature, Correlation, and Interpretation of Stratified Rocks.

Stratigraphy is the branch of geology that studies rock layers; structure includes the faults and folds that result from regional & local forces acting on the area.


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What is a stratigraphy in Archaeology?

All of us would have heard about archaeology, but the term Stratigraphy seems to be trending in the modern day archaeology world. So what exactly do we mean by Stratigraphy?. Stratigraphy, the modern term for archaeological theory and most of the modern exposure, processing and recording techniques, are based on Stratigraphy.

It can be defined as the study of the material which was deposited on the ground over time. Both the vertical and the lateral relationship of the strata, as well as its composition, are studied.

Law of superposition:

The law of superposition is one of the basic laws of stratigraphy, and it states that the layers which first got accumulated on the surface of the earth are much older when compared to the layers which got accumulated on top of that, provided the sequence has not be changed or disturbed.

Some of the stratified deposits include sediments, soils, rocks etc. You can also consider human-made pit holes and other structures as stratified deposits. The law of superposition has helped archaeologists to have a better and improved dating method.


We all know how things change with time. Archaeologists have this amazing job of studying how things change with time. They use the technique of typology, and by digging down the earth from top to down, they will be able to trace objects and even buildings of a historical site which was percent way back in time.


Many objects such as pots and other similar types of objects are often found in many sites. When the concept of typology is combined with stratigraphy and depending on the stylishness of the objects that are found, we can define the sequences of the stratigraphic layers.

The Archeological stratigraphy mostly focuses on the deposits which were made by the men who lived in the past. Geomorphologist on the other hand study about the flow of rivers, the change in its course, floods and how that affected the human population back in time. By comparing both the natural strata which are given by geomorphologist and the man-made strata given by archaeologists we are often able to calculate the depositional history and the chronological order in which each layer was deposited on the ground.

The uses of stratigraphy:

During times where societies and civilizations have no written history about them, stratigraphy proves to be a brilliant method to find out about their society and civilization. Even when there is recorded history, stratigraphy can be an excellent way to prove the written history.  As per the law of superposition, the upper layers are younger, and the lower layers are comparatively older and based on the law, people are able to assign dates to the layers of deposits. But we cannot say that the layers provide accurate information. There are many factors which affect the strata and archaeologists might have to alter their calculations based on that.

Types of stratigraphy

Stratigraphy is the modern day concept of studying about the layers (strata) which were deposited with time. Depending on how the layers are deposited on the ground archaeologists study the history and civilisation of people who lived during that era. The concept of stratigraphy is based on a law called the law of superposition where it is said that the layers which were deposited at the bottom are said to be older when compared to the layers which are deposited on top, unless it was not disturbed by a natural process or if its sequence has not changed.

There are several types of stratigraphy, and we have listed out some of them for you:


Geochronology is the radiometric stratigraphy where rocks are studied and based on the rocks, the time sequence of geological events of the history of the earth is determined. Geochronology widely developed during the 20th century.


The polarity reversal study of the Earth’s magnetic study field by Rutten in the year 1959 gave birth to Magnetostratigraphy. In the year 1964, it is said that the magnetic polarity reversals were also found in marine deposits.


Stratigraphic Classification:

In the year 1979, ICS had published its first edition of the Stratigraphic Guide which was mainly released to promote the agreement of the various principles that are stated in Stratigraphy. In the year 1983, a new version of the stratigraphic code was proposed by the American commission and this expanded its scope. In the year 1987, the standard stratigraphic classification was accepted, and it was updated in the year 1994. An abridged version of the book was also published, and it was put on the website of International Commission on Stratigraphy.

Facies Stratigraphy:

By the word itself, we will be able to guess the meaning of this particular type. The term Facies Stratigraphy comes from Latin which means face or appearance. The combined paleontological and lithological characteristics were introduced in the year 1838 named Amanz Gressly. He made most of his studies on the mount Jura.


The term Chemostratigraphy or chemical stratigraphy is the study of the variations of chemicals on the sedimentary rock sequence. The field has quite young and has come into the picture only from the 1980s. Different chemical signatures can be used to calculate the age of the rocks and the deposits.

Sequence Stratigraphy:

Sequence Stratigraphy is mostly related to geology where the deposits are divided into various units and scales, and they are studied. The method focuses on mapping the strata based on the surfaces which happen to have timelines like flooding surfaces. This method is kind of an alternative to the lithographic approach where the similarities of the rock units are discussed than its time significance.

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