Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 61–88 | Cite as

Ordovician integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China

  • Yuandong Zhang
  • Renbin Zhan
  • Yongyi Zhen
  • Zhihao Wang
  • Wenwei Yuan
  • Xiang Fang
  • Xuan Ma
  • Junpeng Zhang


In this chapter, starting with a brief review of the research history and current status in the studies of the Ordovician chronostratigraphy in China, the subdivision of the Ordovician System, definition and recognition of its series and stage boundaries, and possible stratigraphic gaps are discussed in details in order to establish a multidisciplinary stratigraphic correlation through an integrated approach including lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, radiometric dating, chemostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy. Being internationally accepted, the Ordovician System is now subdivided into three series and seven stages, in ascending order, Lower (Tremadocian, Floian), Middle (Dapingian, Darriwilian) and Upper series (Sandbian, Katian, Hirnantian). Three of the seven “Golden Spikes” defining the bases of the Ordovician stages, which were established in 1997–2007, are located in China. As a regionally applied chronostratigraphy, the Ordovician System was subdivided in China into Lower (Xinchangian, Yiyangian), Middle (Dapingian, Darriwilian) and Upper series (Neichiashanian, Chientangkiangian, Hirnantian). This scheme agrees largely with the standard international classification, which can actually be directly applied to China, except for some special circumstances where the Neichiashanian and Chientangkiangian stages of the Upper Ordovician are used. Based on the new studies in recent years and distinctions and differences recognized in the development of the Ordovician System in the constituent terranes of China, a new framework for correlation among the major Chinese palaeoplates or terranes, e.g. South China, North China (including Tarim and Qaidam) and Xizang (Tibet)-western Yunnan, has been established. However, it has been recognized herein that uncertainties still remain on defining the base of the Tremadocian, Dapingian and Katian, and on the correlation between different mega-facies. More specifically, for the Tremadocian, the precise correlation of its base will depend on the better-defined conodont taxonomy, while for the Dapingian and Katian, on the correlation between different mega-facies. It is worthwhile to note that the chemostratigraphic studies of the Ordovician System in China produced the carbonate δ13C curves for the Darriwilian (Middle Ordovician) and Katian (Upper Ordovician), which show significant differences from the composite global curve. Record of the Ordovician isotopic dating is relatively rare in China, with only three reliable ages from zircons that are all from the upper Katian to Hirnantian of the Upper Ordovician. Abundant bentonite beds in the Upper Ordovician of South China will also provide unique opportunities to advance the isotopic dating and related researches. Studies on the Ordovician magnetostratigraphy need to be significantly enhanced in China, as currently all the available results are restricted to the Lower Ordovician of North China, although they can be correlated with those known from other parts of the world. The analysis of the durational unevenness of the seven stages in the Ordovician supports the possibility to further subdivide the long-durational Tremadocian, Darriwilian and Katian stages, each into two substages.


Ordovician System Geological age Chronostratigraphy Chemostratigraphy Biostratigraphy 


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Profs Chen Xu, Rong Jiayu, and Shen Shuzhong, and two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for their careful and constructive reviews and comments on the manuscript. Zhen Yong Yi publishes with permission of the Executive Director, Geological Survey of NSW. This is a contribution to IGCP Project 653 (The Onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event). This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41290260, 41772005), the Chinese Academy of Sciences New Frontiers Special Grants (Grant Nos. XDB10010100, XDB26000000), the SAFEA Project (Grant No. 20140491530), the National Science and Technology Major Project (Grant No. 2017ZX05036-001-004) and the MST of China Special Grants for Basic Science Projects (Grant No. 2013FY111000).


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuandong Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  • Renbin Zhan
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Yongyi Zhen
    • 4
  • Zhihao Wang
    • 3
  • Wenwei Yuan
    • 3
  • Xiang Fang
    • 3
  • Xuan Ma
    • 3
    • 5
  • Junpeng Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Economic Stratigraphy and Palaeogeography, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Center for Excellence in Life and PaleoenvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and StratigraphyNanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  3. 3.Nanjing Institute of Geology and PalaeontologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  4. 4.Geological Survey of New South WalesW. B. Clarke Geoscience CentreLondonderryAustralia
  5. 5.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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