North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, 78th Annual Meeting

Monday, October 16, 2023 (1:00-5:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time)

Hybrid meeting held in conjunction with Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (GSA Connects 2023) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Westin Pittsburgh Hotel, Fayette Room


1. Call to Order of the 78th Annual Meeting (Chair R. M. “Matt” Joeckel)

2. Roll Call (Joeckel)

  • Refer to separate document (* indicates new commissioner)

For the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (3)

  • Katherine A. Giles [2022-2025]
  • Doug Sprinkel [2020-2023]
  • Richard Denne [2021-2024] Vice Chair, 2022-2023

For the Association of American State Geologists (3)

  • Clint Kromhout* (replacing David LePain) [2023-2025]
  • David Dockery [2021-2024]
  • R.M. (Matt Joeckel) [2021-2024] Chair 2022-2023

For the Geological Society of America (3)

  • Frank Ettensohn [2022-2025]
  • Jim Lehane [2021-2024]
  • Gordon C. Baird [2020-2023]

For the U.S. Geological Survey (3)

  • Lucy Edwards [2022-2025]
  • Julie Herrick [2020-2023]
  • Nancy Stamm [2021-2024]

For the Geological Survey of Canada (3)

  • Lynn Dafoe [2022-2025]
  • Robert MacNaughton [2020-2023]
  • Jim Haggart [2021-2024]

For the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (2)

  • John-Paul Zonneveld [2020-2023]
  • Brian R. Pratt [2021-2024]

For the Geological Association of Canada (2)

  • Frank Brunton [2022-2025]
  • John W. Johnston [2020-2023]

For the SEPM/Society for Sedimentary Geology (2)

  • Howard Harper [2022-2025]
  • Marie-Pierre Aubry [2021-2024]

For the Servicio Geológico Mexicano (1)

  • Rosario Isabel López-Palomino [2021-2024]
  • Juan Carlos Salinas Prieto [2022-2025]

For the Asociación Mexicana de Geólogos Petroleros (1)

  • Martin Martinez Medrano [2022-2025]

For the Sociedad Geológica Mexicana (1)

  • Ruben Alfonso López Doncel [2022-2025]

For the Instituto de Geología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (1)

  • Fernando Núñez Useche [2022-2025]

Commissioners-in-Waiting (need to amend Articles to integrate new Commissioners)

For the Instituto de Geología y Paleontología/Servicio Geológico de Cuba (Cuba)

  • Luis Ramón Bernal Rodríguez [2022-2025]

For the Colegio de Geólogos (Bolivia)

  • Wilfredo Ramos Collorana [2022-2025]

For the Asociación Colombiana de Geólogos y Geofísicos del Petróleo (Colombia)

  • Luis Ignacio Quiroz [2022-2025]

For the Colegio de Geólogos de Costa Rica (Costa Rican Association of Geologists)

  • Gerardo Soto Bonilla [2022-2025]

For the Sociedad Geológica del Perú (Peru)

  • Gerardo Pozo Calle [2022-2025]

For the La Asociación de Geólogos del Paraguay (Paraguay)

  • Nestor Salinas Franco [2022-2025]

For the Sociedad Uruguaya de Geología (Uruguay)

  • Valeria Mesa [2022-2025]

Commissioners-at-Large (9)

  • Jon J. Smith [2023-2025]
  • Carlton E. Brett [2022-2025]
  • Mike Easton [2021-2024]
  • Ismael Ferrusquía-Villafranca [2022-2025]
  • Richard H. Fluegeman [2022-2025]
  • Ed Landing [2021-2024]
  • Norman P. Lasca [2021-2024]
  • Randall C. Orndorff [2021-2024]
  • Janet L. Slate [2020-2023] Chair 2021-2022, Past Chair 2022-2023 present


  • Guest Stéphanie Larmagnat, Geological Survey of Canada
  • Jonathan Arthur, Executive Director, American Geological Institute

3. Approval of the Agenda (Joeckel)

  • Are there any corrections or additions to this agenda?

4. Introduction of New Commissioners and Guests (Joeckel)

[* indicates new commissioner]

For the Association of American State Geologists

  • Clint Kromhout* (Florida Geological Survey) will be assuming the last two years of the term formerly held by David LePain [2022-2025]*

5. Approval of Minutes of the 77^th^ Annual Meeting: Denver, Colorado, Tuesday, October 10, 2022 (Joeckel)

  • Refer to separate document.

  • Corrections or additions to minutes of 77^th^ Annual Meeting?

6. In Memoriam of Past Commissioners (Joeckel)

  • John A. Van Couvering (1931–2023): Passed away on 22 May 2023. Served as NACSN Commissioner-at-Large during 2005 –2016; also served on Chronostratigraphic Subcommittee for the 1983 North American Stratigraphic Code and its 2005 revision. Founder and first editor of Stratigraphy, as well as long-time Editor of Micropaleontology. Retired from American Museum of Natural History.

  • Any additional memorials?

7. Recognition of Awards Received by Commissioners (Joeckel)

  • Brian Pratt (University of Saskatchewan): was awarded the Geological Association of Canada’s Middleton Medal for Sedimentology in 2022. It is awarded biannually.

  • Any additional awards?

8. Report of the Chair (Joeckel)

Thank you all for your patience with me over the past year. I have tried to achieve something of value on behalf of the Commission. Some salient developments during 2022–2023. I draw your attention to these developments:

8.1. Reinstatement of NACSN as a Member Society of AGI:

Discussions with Executive Director of AGI Jonathan Arthur during late spring and summer 2023 led to the reinstatement of NACSN as a member society during July. NACSN is now listed as such on the AGI website []. In the future, the Chair of NACSN will need to participate in certain AGI meetings and circulate relevant materials. Likewise, the Commisssion at large will need to vote on particular measures.

8.2. Redevelopment of a NACSN website: The discussions with AGI have led to that organization hosting a new version of the NACSN website. Chris Keane of AGI graciously assisted Chair Joeckel in building the new website during August through early October; that site is now pointed to the permanent url: The site is a ‘work in progress" that will require yearly attention. An ad hoc website committee should be appointed.

8.3. Spanish and French translations of the North American Stratigraphic Code: A Spanish translation of North American Code and a draft of a French translation is completed.

8.4 Conclusion of online discussion about Chemostratigraphy proposal occurred during this term, culminating in the very recent publication of Report 15.

8.5. Possible hydostratigraphy proposal: Discussions with Jonathan Arthur and others during the late summer and early fall have led to the inclusion of a presentation by that individual at the present meeting. Interest in codifying hydrostratigraphic units has existed for four decades, yet prior attempts to formalize matters were never concluded. NACSN discussions of this topic began at least as early as the 39^th^ Annual Meeting in 1984. There are mentions of such activity in multiple meeting minutes published as Notes in

8.6. Decision not to scan NACSN archives: Discussions with Norm Lasca during the previous year made it clear that there are, at present, too many barriers (person-hour costs, logistics, etc.) to scanning the archives and making them available online.

Additionally, I convey to you a few cconcerns, which others may share:

8.7. Cost of annual meetings relative to lack of organizational finances: Program billing, internet access, and other costs for the past two meetings have totaled approximately $350 each. Is the present way of dealing with such expenses sustainable? Is there an alternative?

8.8: Does NACSN need a written Code of Conduct?

8.9: Should the responsibilities of Chair and Vice Chair be codified in some way, relative to the informal list of duties compiled by Jim Haggart.

9.0. Need to attract younger commissioners (see #14 re: Junior Stratigrapher Commissioner-at-Large), especially given ongoing changes in academia and the workplace.

9.1. How does NACSN remain relevant and promote its work?

I extend my very special thanks to Randy Orndorff for his guidance and support over the past year. I also thank Lucy Edwards, Carl Brett, Nancy Stamm, Janet Slate, Julie Herrick. And David Soller. I have greatly appreciated the generous support for NACSN provided by Jon Arthur and Chris Keane of AGI. Thanks to all of NACSN for your patience with me.

9. Report of the Vice Chair (Vice Chair Richard Denne)

10. Update on Spanish Translation of North American Stratigraphic Code (Joeckel)

  • On 12 September 2023, Commissioner Fernando Núñez Useche informed Chair Joeckel that the manuscript containing the Spanish-language translation of the North American Stratigraphic Code was ready for publication in Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, requesting letters of support from the Chair and Vice Chair of NACSN.

  • Chair Joeckel and Vice Chair Denne sent the requested letters to Dr. Antoni Camprubí Cano (Editor-in-Chief) on 19 September.

  • Additional comments?

11. Update on French translation of North American Stratigraphic Code (Commissioner Aubry and Stephanie Larmagnat, Geological Survey of Canada)

  • Thus far, ad hoc review committee includes Lucy Edwards; additional volunteers are needed.

  • Review committee will address stylistic, editorial and scientific problems that have been noted in the course of the translation.

  • Commissioner Marie-Pierre Aubry and Guest Stéphanie Larmagnat (Geological Survey of Canada) will present their first draft of the French translation of the Code, formatted as the English text, and inserted in it for ready online posting.

12. Update on Inclusion of Chemostratigraphy in the North American Stratigraphic Code (Joeckel).

  • Published online 15 September 2023: NORTH AMERICAN COMMISSION ON STRATIGRAPHIC NOMENCLATURE Report 15 - Revised Articles 2, 61 and 62 of the North American Stratigraphic Code to Formalize Chemostratigraphic Units, by Robert W. Scott, Carlton E. Brett, Richard H. Fluegeman, Jr., Brian R. Pratt, and Ed Landing. Stratigraphy Volume 20, No. 3, pp. 233—236.

  • This recent publication follows: NORTH AMERICAN COMMISSION ON STRATIGRAPHIC NOMENCLATURE Note 71 – Application for addition of chemostratigraphic units to the North American Stratigraphic Code: A case for formalizing chemostratigraphic units. Stratigraphy, Volume 17, No. 2, pp. 135–139 - online 09 Jun 2020.

Extensive discussion of this note occurred by email during the fall and early winter of 2022, following the 77^th^ annual meeting (2022).

13. Reports from other Commissioners or organizations

  • NACSN Archives?

  • Others?

14. Discussion of Unresolved Agenda Items from the 2022 Annual Meeting

  • Formalizing Biochron in the Code (Discussed in 2022 by Commissioner Marie-Pierre Aubry).

  • Formalizing Subseries in the Code (Discussed in 2022 by Commissioner Marie-Pierre Aubry).

  • Possible Junior Stratigrapher Commissioner-at-Large (discussed in 2022 by Commissioners Janet Slate and Jim Haggart).

  • Discussion on Inclusion of Central and South American Stratigraphers in NACSN (discussed in 2022 by Commissioner Fernando Núñez).

  • Other items?

15. VOTE on adoption of new logo for NACSN (Joeckel).

16. VOTE on adoption of NORTH AMERICAN COMMISSION ON STRATIGRAPHIC NOMENCLATURE NOTE 72: Application for Revisions to the North American Stratigraphic Code to Address Culturally Offensive or Inappropriate Unit Names and to Encourage the Use of Indigenous Place Names, by Robert B. MacNaughton, Lynn T. Dafoe, and James W. Haggart. Stratigraphy 19(3): 187-200. Published online 15 September 2022.,

  • As per Article 21 of the NACSN Bylaws, this content may be voted upon since more than a year has passed since its publication; it can be approved by a two-thirds majority.

  • Text of email communication from Rob MacNaughton dated 21 September 2023:

“NACSN Note 72, which proposed revisions to the Code, was published on Sept 17, 2022. Since more than one year has now passed since publication, I understand that these revisions can be voted on at the 2023 Annual Meeting. I attach a copy of Note 72 for possible circulation with the agenda.

The authors of the note have received very little feedback regarding the proposed revisions. The one substantive suggestion came from the USGS Geologic Names Committee. Regarding the proposed revisions to Article 7, Remark (a) (p. 190 in the English portion of the note), they suggested that an example be provided to illustrate the inappropriate use of an Indigenous place name. We take their point but, rather than provide an example, we have added text suggesting that inappropriate usage may best be avoided by discussion with local communities. The attached Word document provides the current text of Article 7, Remark (a), with the revisions proposed in Note 27 (red, italic text) and the suggested additional revision (red, bold, italic text).”

  • Remarks (from a separate document): (a) Appropriate geographic terms.—Geographic names derived from permanent natural or artificial features at or near which the unit is present are preferable to those derived from impermanent features such as farms, schools, stores, churches, crossroads, and small communities. Appropriate names may be selected from those shown on topographic, state, provincial, county, forest service, hydrographic, Indigenous government or organization, or comparable maps, particularly those showing names approved by a national board for geographic names or a similarly authoritative body. Where more than one published name is available for a geographic feature, it is appropriate to consider both common usage and the availability of an Indigenous name when formalizing a unit. Particular care should be taken, however, to avoid inappropriate usage of culturally important sites or their traditional names when naming geological units*; discussions with local Indigenous communities may play an important role in avoiding inappropriate usage of such names**.* The generic part of a geographic name, e.g., river, lake, village, should be omitted from new terms, unless required to distinguish between two otherwise identical names (e.g., Redstone Formation and Redstone River Formation). Two names should not be derived from the same geographic feature. A unit should not be named for the source of its components; for example, a deposit inferred to have been derived from the Keewatin glaciation center should not be designated the ‘‘Keewatin Till.’’ Names that could be deemed culturally offensive or similarly inappropriate by present-day standards should be avoided, even if they otherwise conform to the principles just stated.

17. Report of the Nominating Committee and Election of Officers for 2022–2023 (Commissioners Janet Slate, Rob MacNaughton, and John-Paul Zonneveld)

  • See separate document with list of 2023–2024 Commissioners.

18. Appointment of ad hoc NACSN Website Committee

  • Charge:

  • Check existing material for errors and oversights. Carefully review posted text from North American Stratigraphic Code—determine what is missing and insert the appropriate text from the version approved in 2021.

  • Compile other corrections, approved agendas, approved minutes, membership lists, additions, etc. and share them with the Chair of NACSN for approval. Be sure to include the arrpoved minutes of the 77^th^ Annual Meeting in 2022.

  • Submit all compiled changes, thus approved to Chris Keane at AGI ( no later than 15 December 2023.

  • DO NOT plan on adding or modifying content more than twice during the period October 2023 to October 2024 or in any other year. Thus, once in late 2023 and once in August or early September of 2024.

19. Appointment of Nominating Committee for 2023–2024 (Joeckel)

  • The NACSN Bylaws state that a new committee of three (3) members in the third year of their term will be appointed.

20. Election/Renewals of Commissioners-at-large (Joeckel)

  • Jon J. Smith (Kansas Geological Survey) was voted in as a Commissioner-at-Large at the 77^th^ annual meeting

  • Janet Slate’s term ends in 2023

  • Any other Commisioners at large?

21. Presentation of Scrolls (Joeckel)

  • Terms ending in 2023: Commissioners Doug Sprinkel [2020-2023], Gordon C. Baird [2020-2023], Julie Herrick [2020-2023], Robert MacNaughton [2020-2023], John W. Johnston [2020-2023], Janet L. Slate [2020-2023].

  • Discussion of how to deal with scrolls now and in the future.




22. Reconvene at 4:00 pm for a brief presentation by Jonathan Arthur, Executive Director of AGI and former State Geologist of Florida, on hydrostratigraphy and the need for its inclusion in the North American Stratigraphic Code.

Jon Arthur submitted the following text by email on 3 October 2023:

Hydrostratigraphic Nomenclature – A Potential Role for the NACSN (Draft)

Jonathan Arthur

October 3, 2023

Water resources in the US are of paramount importance and most of these of these resources are groundwater. Discrepancies in aquifer unit names and hierarchies are cause for confusion and impact bottom-line costs when framework characterization, mapping and modeling are undertaken, especially across geopolitical boundaries. Moreover, the inconsistencies do not foster effective communication of geoscience information to policy makers and the public. Well-characterized hydrogeologic settings, including characterization of boundary conditions, are essential for the successful design and management of water supply wellfields, waste disposal wells, monitoring system designs, various applications of managed aquifer recharge, and infrastructure or land uses that can impact water quality.

As with early challenges in lithostratigraphy, hydrostratigraphic nomenclature issues center on scale, correlation, and consistency (e.g., multiple unit and term definitions). There is no code or set of rules that defines the minimum criteria (e.g., mappability, identifiable physical or hydrologic properties) for a fundamental hydrostratigraphic unit (HSU). Only guidelines exist that have been variably implemented.

At a sub-regional scale, a hydrostratigraphic unit may be correctly identified as an aquifer; however, at a more regional scale the same unit may be a subunit within a thick and complex aquifer system. Lateral and vertical permeability changes within a region’s hydrogeological framework give rise to a need for robust and specific nomenclature standards and definitions to foster consistent mapping and modeling. In many regions, currently accepted nomenclature does not include the level of detail needed for conceptual models and simulation of groundwater flow systems.

Different geologic terrains present different nomenclatural challenges. For example, characteristics of a carbonate-siliciclastic aquifer in the southeastern US differ vastly from a fractured rock aquifer in the northeastern US. Water well production from an aquiclude in one region may have the same yield as a unit in another region that is locally considered an aquifer.

As demands on water resources increase, and as they vary in response to climate change adaptation, our understanding of HSU and related frameworks will evolve. However, many legacy names are entrenched in scientific literature, rules, and laws, making implementation of more appropriate names difficult. Consistent hydrostratigraphic nomenclature and perhaps a related governance framework is needed to help advance the science in an orderly manner and meet the changing needs of geoscientists addressing local and regional water-resource issues. The North American Stratigraphic Code and the governance of NACSN could serve as an infrastructure to address this recurring need.

  • Follow-up discussion.

  • Motion to form an ad hoc Hydrostratigraphic Unit Committee to prepare a formal proposal?

23. Miscellaneous business

  • Remarks on new lithodemic framework by Commissioner Mike Easton; text from email from 5 October.

“A group led mainly by staff of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Geological Surveys has proposed a new lithodemic framework that builds on what is in the NACSN Code, but which includes also a number of items that do not mesh directly with the Code. The group is in the final stages of preparing a manuscript to reveal this proposal, likely for the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

At this point, it is really an information item, but nonetheless it is an activity NACSN should be aware of. I can circulate the current draft of the ms to the members in advance of the meeting.”

  • Other items?

24. Adjournment of the 78th Annual Meeting (Joeckel)

  • Ask for motion to adjourn and second.

  • Richard Denne has agreed to be Chair for 2023–2024. Approval by acclamation.

  • Randy Orndorff has agreed to be Vice Chair for 2023-2024. Approval by acclamation.

25. Call to Order of the 79th Annual Meeting (2022-2023 Vice Chair and 2023-2024 Chair Richard Denne) to be held during GSA Connects 2024, 22–25 September 2024, Anaheim, California, USA.

26. Remarks by Incoming Chair (Denne)