There are “golden nails” hidden underground, and they are very rare: there they are

Che cosa sono i chiodi d'oro, GSSP importantissimi

When we step on the ground of our Earth we somehow take for granted that everything has always been as we see it. In fact, our planet has evolved over millions of years and each change has left traces that teach us fundamental things. An example? the most precious gold nails that are well “planted” in the ground.


And not just any soil: golden nails are planted in GSSPacronym for Global Stratotype Section and Point. Their presence makes the places where they are found interesting internationally, both for the scientific community and for the curious who want to know more about the Earth.

GSSP and Gold Nails: What are they really?

To understand the importance of golden nails, you must first understand what GSSPs are specifically. Explaining it very simply, they are gods. rock successions that make up geosites of fundamental importance to define the chronological evolution of the Earth. Why are they relevant? Because within them there is a specific point that represents two floors of the chronostratigraphic scale overall standard

In short, these geosites present, one next to the other, a point that defines a clear boundary between formations of two different geological ages and that, compared to the rest of the world, it contains more chemical, geomagnetic, radiometric and paleontological information of the ages it defines. Precisely this limit is called golden spike, golden nailand in some parts of the world a golden nail has been planted to mark it.

The GSSP standards and golden nails

Clearly, finding these essential spots for planet Earth is anything but easy. To be clear, internationally agreed standards stipulate that golden cloves may be planted only at points where there is a clear division between a higher and lower stage on the geological time scale. However, the GSSPs (and, consequently, the golden nails) are based in principle on paleontological changesbut sometimes they also describe faunal transitions.

The identification remains relative to the actual impact that particular point has on studies on terrestrial evolution. To be clear, scientists have established that a GSSP must also be defined on the basis of a precise primary marker (for example, the first detection of a specific fossil) and a series of secondary markers (fossils, chemical inversions).

In addition, although the thicknesses of the different GSSP are variable, it cannot be too thin or too thick. must not present alterations related to tectonic movements. It must also be accessible and protected (possibly included within a natural search). Strict standards? Probably, and perhaps also for this reason, in the world, so far, only eighty have been identified.

Where are the golden nails found?

Where then are these golden nails? In fact, they are spread all over the world. In Italy, however, there are 12. The first is found in Calabriain the province of Crotone (Vrica) and dates from the Pleistocene, while the following three are found in Sicily, precisely in Gela, Porto Empedocle and Eraclea Minoa, and date from the Pleistocene and Pliocene. Dating back to the Miocene, they are, instead, those found in brandsin Ancona and in Piedmontin Carrosio.

In the‘Central Apennines and again ad Ancona there are two dating from the Oligocene, while in the venetian foothills and again in the Central Apennines there are two Golden Points dating from the Eocene. Finally, in the Dolomites and in the lombard foothills there are gold nails dating from the Triassic.

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