The North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature celebrated its 60th anniversary in December, 2006. Originally named the American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, the Commission was later expanded to include representatives from the major geological organizations in Canada and Mexico, with the goal of promoting uniformity in stratigraphic nomenclature throughout North America.
The roots of the organization, however, go much deeper, and ultimately stem from the 1930s efforts of a relatively small group of geologists concerned with the lack of uniformity in stratigraphic terminology and in the application of stratigraphic principles throughout the nation. As a result of these concerns, a Committee on Stratigraphic Nomenclature was struck and began the task of formulating guidelines in stratigraphic practices. The resulting guidelines, called "Classification and Nomenclature of Rock Units," were published in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America in 1933 (G.H. Ashley et al., Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, v. 44, pp.423-459).
In 1941, R.C. Moore proposed a gathering of representatives from the Association of American State Geologists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Geological Society of America, U.S. Geological Survey and Geological Survey of Canada to delve into the possibility of forming a permanent body concerned with stratigraphic practices. Following World War II, R.C. Moore again initiated discussions among the same groups. In 1946, the first official meeting of the American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature was held - at which time the Commission became a permanent body. Moore was elected chairman and M.G. Cheney, vice-chairman.
The present-day Commission comprises three representatives each from of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Association of American State Geologists, Geological Society of America, United States Geological Survey, and the Geological Survey of Canada; two each from of the Society for Sedimentary Petrology, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, Geological Association of Canada, and Servicio Geologico de Mexicano; and one each from the Asociación Mexicana de Geólogos Petróleros and Sociedad Geológica Mexicana. In addition, there are five Commissioners-at-Large. Representatives serve three years, with staggered terms. Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected from within the Commission membership, and each serves one year.
Most members of the Commission are representatives of the fields of paleontology, biostratigraphy and stratigraphy.
The purposes of the Commission are to
The Commission has relatively few publications, but its chief publication, the North American Stratigraphic Code, (in PDF) the latest complete version of which was revised in 2005, serves as a guide to all stratigraphic practices throughout North America. The influence of the North American Stratigraphic Code on the nature, content, and stratigraphic philosophy of the recently-published International Stratigraphic Guide cannot be under-estimated. Although all changes to the Code are made by and through the Commission, any geoscientist may submit proposals at any time for suggested changes or additions to the Code (see Article 21).
The Commission is continually updating the Code, adding sections as new technologies develop, improving and clarifying language usage in the Code, and periodically revising entire sections. Recently, a project to correct errors in language, remove ambiguities in wording, and to make minor emendations to the entire Code, was completed. This included a complete revision of the "On Biostratigraphic Units" section. Discussions for amending the "Hydrostratigraphic Units" section is progressing; and extensive discussions are planned on the relationship between "Allostratigraphy" and "Sequence Stratigraphy" - including whether there should be a separate "Sequence Stratigraphy Units" section in the Code.
to better serve our scientisits in North America, the Mexico Instituto de Geologia published the Code in Spanish in 2010.
Set in Stone: The Work of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature. In 2009, the Journal Stratigraphy published a special issue on the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature (vol. 6, no. 2). This issue relates to the Code and includes a history of the Commission, how to use the Code, specific discussions of time and rock units, and the articles of procedure. The issue includes the following papers:
Preface - Set in Stone: The Work of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, by Randall C. Orndorff, Editor
Divisions of geologic time - Major chronostratigraphic and geochronologic units, by U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Names Committee
Thinking of deep time, by, Marie-Pierre Aubry
Terminology of geologic time: Establishment of a community standard, by Maire-Pierre Aubry, John A. Van Couvering, Nicholas Christie-Blick, Ed Landing, Brian R. Pratt, Donald E. Owen, and Ismael Ferrusquia-Villafranca
How to use stratigraphic terminology in papers, illustrations, and talks, by Donald E. Owen
A guide to the application of lithostratigraphic terminology in Precambrian terrains, by R.M. Easton
Do GSSPs render dual time-rock/time classification and nomenclature redundant?, by Ismael Ferrusquia-Villafranca, Robert M. Easton, and Donald E. Owen
Layer by Layer: An account of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, by Robert R. Jordan
As appendices to this article: NACSN commissioners from 1946 to present and NACSN officers from 1946 to present
Revised Articles of Organization and Procedure of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, by Donald Owen, Norman P. Lasca, and Lucy E. Edwards
Most Commission reports and notes have been published courtesy of the Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, including Notes submitted at irregular intervals - ranging from Note 1 to the most recent Note 65 (2005), "Records of the Stratigraphic Commission 1995-2002." At this time, the Journal of Stratigraphy is the offiical publication venue for NACSN publications.
The Commission meets once a year in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. The 68th Annual Meeting of the NACSN will be held in conjunction with the Geological Society of America National Meeting Denver, Colorado, Monday, October 27-30, 2013 (day and time TBD). Meetings are open to the public. (2012 Meeting agenda)
The current Commission consists of
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PETROLEUM GEOLOGISTS (3)
Robert Scott (2012-2015) Chairman (2012-2013)
Donald E. Owen (2011-2014)
Art Donovan (2011-2014)
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN STATE GEOLOGISTS (3)
John Steinmetz (2012-2015)
David Wunsch (2011-2014)
Berry H. (Nick) Tew (2012-2015)
GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA (3)
Richard H. Fluegeman (2010-2013) Vice
Frank R. Ettensohn (2012-2015)
Bridget Wade (2011-2014)
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (3)
Lucy E. Edwards (2010-2013)
David Fullerton (2011-2014)
Randall Orndorff (2012-2015)
GEOLGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA (3)
A. P. (Tony) Hamblin (2012-2015)
Rob Rainbird (2011-2014)
Robert G. Anderson (2010-2013)
CANADIAN SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM GEOLOGISTS (2)
Brian R. Pratt (2012-2015)
Octavian Catuneanu (2011-2014)
GEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (2)
Robert Michael Easton (2011-2014)
Frank Brunton (2010-2013)
INSTITUTO DE GEOLOGIA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTONOMA DE MEXICO (1)
Elizabeth Solliero Rebolledo (2010-2013)
SOCIETY FOR SEDIMENTARY GEOLOGY (2)
Howard Harper (2009-2012)
Marie-Pierre J. Aubry (2012-2015)
ASOCIACION MEXICANA DE GEOLOGOS PETROLEROS (1)
SOCIEDAD GEOLOGICA DE MEXICANA (1)
M.C. Emiliano Campos Madrigal (2008-2011)
SERVICIO GEOLOGICO MEXICANO (2)
Edgar Juarez Arriaga (2008-2011)
Rosario Isabel López Palomino (2008-2011)
Norman Lasca (2012-2015)
Ismael Ferrusquía-Villafranca (2010-2013)
John Van Couvering (2010-2013)
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This web site is maintained by Randall C. Orndorff
U.S. Geological Survey
MS 926A National Center
Reston, Virginia 20192
This page updated November 28, 2012.