Authority for naming rocks, formations and times rests with the International Commission of Stratigraphy.
The ICS is the largest scientific body within the International Union of Geological Sciences and the only organization concerned with stratigraphy on a global scale. Much of its work is done through a network of subcommissions and working groups with specific, limited mandates.
The ICS has about 400 titular members, with over 2,000 stratigraphers worldwide participating in its activities.
The North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature was established in 1946. It sets rules for naming geoforms and recommends them to the ICS.
The Commission comprises:
Three representatives each from AAPG, the Association of American State Geologists, the Geological Society of America, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada.
Two each from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and Geological Association of Canada.
One each from the Asociación Mexicana de Geólogos Petróleros, Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, and Instituto de Geología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico.
In addition, there are two commissioners-at-large.
Representatives serve three years, with staggered terms. Chairman and vice chairman are elected from within the Commission membership, and each serves one year.
The NACSN meets for one-half day during the GSA annual meeting. Work in the meantime is done mostly by e-mail, according to Don Owen of Lamar University, who chairs AAPG’s three-person delegation.
AAPG’s voice on the Commission “is pretty prominent,” Owen said.
While some societies regularly appoint new members, AAPG tends to reappoint representatives. Owen has served on the body for 25 years.
“The ICS rules on names; the NACSN submits opinions,” he said.
Fellow member Art Donovan of BP, Houston, said the body includes a mix of scientists from academia and industry. “We try to provide an industry perspective,” he said.
AAPG’s third member is Robert R. Jordan, an AAPG Honorary member from Yorklyn, Del.