stra·​tig·​ra·​phy strə-ˈti-grə-fē How to pronounce stratigraphy (audio)
: geology that deals with the origin, composition, distribution, and succession of strata
: the arrangement of strata

Examples of stratigraphy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Under the rules of stratigraphy, each interval of Earth time needs a clear, objective starting point, one that applies worldwide. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, 5 Mar. 2024 Geology — and specifically stratigraphy, or the study of rock layers — had rolled back the age of the Earth by hundreds of millions of years. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 22 June 2023 Westmoreland State Park Fossil Beach - Montross, Virginia About 70 miles south of the Natural History Museum, Westmoreland State Park’s Fossil Beach is another hotbed for prehistoric shark teeth, but what’s really eye-catching about the location is the stratigraphy—or rocky layers—of the cliffs. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Aug. 2020 Since Charles Darwin’s time, paleontology – especially the study of the marine invertebrates that make up most of the record – involved descriptive tasks such as classifying or correlating fossils with layers of the Earth (known as stratigraphy). David Sepkoski, Discover Magazine, 16 Feb. 2018 When digging down, the team documented not just the layers with artifacts, but the entire stratigraphy of each meter-square excavation mini-site. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 19 July 2017 Each layer of stratigraphy is a stark stripe of brown, beige, or gray, and some are flecked with white shells. Devon Bidal, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Feb. 2022 The goal was to better understand the area’s stratigraphy, or rock layers, and to find a way to accurately date ancient lake sediments. Riley Black, Scientific American, 23 Sep. 2021 Researchers used techniques including radiocarbon dating, stratigraphy and ceramic typology to determine that people buried him in around 726 A.D., the same year workers built the hieroglyphic staircase, notes Notimerica. Isis Davis-Marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Mar. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stratigraphy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of stratigraphy was in 1841

Dictionary Entries Near stratigraphy

Cite this Entry

“Stratigraphy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


stra·​tig·​ra·​phy strə-ˈtig-rə-fē How to pronounce stratigraphy (audio)
: geology that deals with the beginnings, composition, distribution, and succession of the layers of rock in the earth's crust

Medical Definition


stra·​tig·​ra·​phy strə-ˈtig-rə-fē How to pronounce stratigraphy (audio)
plural stratigraphies

More from Merriam-Webster on stratigraphy

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