Elaboration of the Fundamentals of Stratigraphy

  • Pierre Cotillon


The first European stratigraphers set out initially to describe local histories illustrated by vertical lithologic sequences. Among them, William Smith (1769–1839) is generally considered the founder of stratigraphy, including biostratigraphy. He saw in the succession of sedimentary deposits a sort of representation of the passage of time. He recognized their continuity in space and was able to use fossils to distinguish lithologically similar beds. Inspired by this, Quenstedt and Léopold de Buch subdivided the rocks of the Swabian Jura into three parts: (1) a lower group or “Black Jura” (Lias), formed of marls and dark shaly limestones; (2) a middle group or “Brown Jura” (Dogger), consisting of ferruginous layers; and (3) an upper group or “White Jura” (Malm), composed of light-colored limestones. In addition, three superposed sequences of sands were soon distinguished in the Paris area: lower, middle, and upper sands, separated by shaly or calcareous formations.


Sandstone Shale Holocene Miocene Lithology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Cotillon
    • 1
  1. 1.Département des Sciences de la TerreUniversité Claude-Bernard Lyon IVilleurbanne CedexFrance

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