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Range charts and no-space graphs

Computers & Geosciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0098-3004(78)90057-2
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Chronostratigraphy
  • No-Space Graphs
  • Range Charts
  • Sequence Of Events
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Mathematics


Abstract No-space graphs present one solution to the familiar problem: given data on the occurrence of fossil taxa in separate, well-sampled sections, determine a range chart; that is, a reasonable working hypothesis of the total range in the area in question of each taxon studied. The solution presented here treats only the relative sequence of biostratigraphic events (first and last occurrences of taxa) and does not attempt to determine an amount of spacing between events. Relative to a hypothesized sequence, observed events in any section may be in-place or out-of-place. Out-of-place events may indicate (1) the event in question reflects a taxon that did not fill its entire range (unfilled-range event), or (2) the event in question indicates a need for the revision of the hypothesized sequence. A graph of relative position only (no-space graph) can be used to facilitate the recognition of in-place and out-of-place events by presenting a visual comparison of the observations from each section with the hypothesized sequence. The geometry of the graph as constructed here is such that in-place events will lie along a line series and out-of-place events will lie above or below it. First-occurrence events below the line series and last-occurrence events above the line series indicate unfilled ranges. First-occurrence events above the line series and last-occurrence events below the line series indicate a need for the revision of the hypothesis. Knowing this, the stratigrapher considers alternative positionings of the line series as alternative range hypotheses and seeks the line series that best fits his geologic and paleontologic judgment. No-space graphs are used to revise an initial hypothesis until a final hypothesis is reached. In this final hypothesis every event is found in-place in at least one section, and all events in all sections may be interpreted to represent in-place events or unfilled-range events. No event may indicate a need for further range revision. The application of the no-space graph method requires the assumption of lack of reworking and the assumption that taxa that are present in a single horizon indicate taxa whose ranges overlap. When applied to hypothetical and actual data, the no-space graph technique produces geologically reasonable range charts that compare favorably with results produced by other methods.

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