Monday, May 25, 2009

The Quaternary is back!

Members of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) have controversially discussed the Redefinition of Quaternary, Pleistocene, Neogene, and Pliocene during the last months. The discussion was initiated by the ICS to find a definete agreement on the structure of upper part of the International Stratigraphic Chart (See one of my older posts on the 'prelude' of this issue).

The ICS has proposed three scenarios to vote on in a first round:

  1. “Status Quo” Proposal: Pleistocene Series/Epoch remains defined by Vrica GSSP. The base of the Quaternary System/Period is formally defined also by the Vrica GSSP, corresponding to the base of the Pleistocene Series/Epoch and Calabrian Stage/Age, and serving also as the Neogene-Quaternary boundary.

  2. Quaternary” Proposal: Base of Pleistocene Series/Epoch is lowered such that the Pleistocene includes the Gelasian Stage/Age and its base is defined by the Monte San Nicola GSSP, which also defines the base of the Gelasian. In addition, the base of the Quaternary System/Period, and thus the Neogene-Quaternary boundary, is formally defined by Monte San Nicola GSSP and is coincident with the bases of the Pleistocene and Gelasian. With these definitions the Gelasian Stage/Age is transferred from the Pliocene Series/Epoch to the Pleistocene.

  3. Neogene” Proposal: Pleistocene Series/Epoch remains defined by Vrica GSSP. The Pliocene Series/Epoch is split into two series/epochs named Lower/Early Pliocene and Upper/Late Pliocene, with the later composed of the Gelasian Stage/Age and with its base defined by the Monte San Nicola GSSP. The rank of the Quaternary is changed from system/period to subsystem/subperiod; its base is formally defined by the Monte San Nicola GSSP. As a result, the Quaternary is composed of the Upper/Late Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene series/epochs. The Neogene System/Period extends upwards such that it includes the Miocene, Lower/Early Pliocene, Upper/Late Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene series/epochs.

The Quaternary proposal received the majority of votes in this first round. The results of the following second round of voting which only included the Quaternary proposal have recently been published here.
And the winner is ... the Quaternary is back! The proposal received a 89% majority of yes votes. The proposal will now be forwarded to the IUGS Executive Committee for ratification.

An exciting documentation on this historic discussion can be found on the new bulletin board of the International Stratigraphic Comission.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Micropaleontological Fraud

Bruno Granier just published a new article on a case of micropaleontological fraud the microplaeontological community was confronted with during the last years.

Abstract: Starting in 1996 and for almost a decade, M.M. Imam contributed to twelve papers published in international geological journals. These papers dealt with the micropaleontology and biostratigraphy of Cretaceous to Miocene series from Egypt and Libya. They were abundantly illustrated in order to support the author's findings and interpretations. However most photographic illustrations (189 at least) were fabricated with material lifted from the publications of other authors, commonly from localities or stratigraphic intervals other than those indicated by M.M. Imam.

This case was heavily discussed during the last years (just google for micropaleontological fraud). It was also mentioned previously in the geoblogosphere for example in the El PaleoFreak blog. Take a look at the comments of this post and you'll see what 'heavy weapons' are used especially by the suspect...