Biochronology and stratigraphic correlation


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DIP01
Year of study: without

Course principal:
Assist. Prof. Špela Goričan, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 30 hours, tutorial 30 hours, individual work 180 hours
Course type: modul elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, e-learning, seminars, practical training


Course syllabus (download)


Inscription to the 1st academic year.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Historical development of stratigraphy
  • Discontinuous nature of the fossil record
  • Biochronology and biostratigraphy (definition)
  • Types of biozones (Oppel zone, taxon-range zone, concurrent-range zone, interval zone, abundance zone etc.)
  • Properties of biochronologic scales (continuous vs. discrete scales)
  • Deterministic vs. probabilistic methods to construct a biochronologic scale
  • Unitary Association Method and application of UAgraph computer programme on a case study
  • Calibration of biochronologic scales against chronostratigraphic units; integration of other stratigraphic methods (sequence stratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy)
  • Concept of Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP); requirements and procedure for formal definition of a stage boundary



Selected chapters from books and papers:

  • Guex J. (1991). Biochronological Correlations, 1-252,
  • Guex J., Galster F., Hammer O. (2016). Discrete Biochronological Time Scales, 1- 160, Springer.
  • McGowran B. (2005). Biostratigraphy: Microfossils and Geological Time. Cambridge University Press. (izbrana poglavja/selected chapters)
  • Agterberg F., Gradstein F.M., Cheng Q., Liu G. (2013). The RASC ad CASC programs for ranking, scaling and correlation of biostratigraphic events. Computers and Geosciences 54, 279–292.
  • Gradstein FM, Ogg JG, Schmitz MD, Ogg GM (2012). The Geological Time Scale 2012, 1-585, Elsevier.


Objectives and competences:

The purpose of the course is to develop critical understanding of local and global biochronologic scales. Students will learn how to evaluate the quality of the dataset upon which a scale is established. They will acquire sufficient knowledge on empirical and mathematical methods to construct and test a range chart, and to interpret its biochronologic precision. They will be stimulated to combine biochronology with other methods of stratigraphic correlation. The course includes practical experience (supervised individual study) and is particularly recommended for students, who can use fossil collections of their PhD research for case studies.


Intended learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding:

The student is able to construct and interpret a biochronologic scale. He is aware of advantages/limitations of different construction methods and can critically evaluate the published zonations. He is familiar with different stratigraphic approaches to calibrate biochronologic scales against chronostratigraphic units and understands the significance of GSSPs.



Written or oral exam (50 %), written paper (50 %).