disconformity

Disconformity

A disconformity is a gap in the rock

A disconformity is a gap in the rock record that represents a period of erosion rather than deposition. Imagine that a series of sedimentary layers is deposited in a shallow marine setting. Following this period of deposition, sea level falls or the land rises, exposing some the sedimentary layers.

During this span, when the sedimentary beds are above sea level, no new sediment accumulates, and some of the existing layers are eroded away. Later, sea level rises or the land subsides, submerging the landscape. Now the surface is again below sea level, and a new series of sedimentary beds is deposited. The boundary separating the two sets of beds is a disconformit —a span for which there is no rock record (Figure).

Because the layers above and below a disconformity are parallel, these features are sometimes difficult to identify unless you notice evidence of erosion such as a buried stream channel.

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