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Long a laboratory for thousands of geology students, the Appalachian region has provided most fossil types and formational standards for the American Paleozoic. It has nourished major concepts of physiography, structural geology, orogenesis, and stratigraphy, and one might imagine its geology to be thoroughly understood. Yet it is still full of geologic enigmas. Too many familiar elements of its geologic history need revision, and the entire province should be restudied in the light of new information, new methods of study, and new angles of approach.
Appalachian stratigraphy is extremely uneven, ranging from good to vague at different localities and horizons; large areas are geologically unmapped even at reconnaissance levels; systemic boundaries are indefinite, and various thick formations need subdivision. The eastern extensions of most Appalachian rocks are compromised by deformation, and too little is known about this half of the basin.
Rhythms in Appalachian geology have been unsuccessfully sought; perhaps none exists; perhaps new directions of attack should be tried. The timing, distribution, and results of Appalachian orogenies should be re-examined as well as the character of its folds and faults.
On the positive side, modern radioactive dating is immensely improving historical interpretation while various subsurface studies plus innumerable new exposures are adding much new information. Vigorous efforts of new branches of geoscience have stimulated a new era in Appalachian geology.
Most significant is the appreciation that new concepts are in the wind--a realization of the inadequacy of older stereotyped views and a genuine intention to replace them with more accurate interpretations.
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