In geology, a facies (pronounced variously as /ˈfeɪʃiːz/, /ˈfeɪsiːz/ or /ˈfæʃiːz/ ['faysheez', 'fayseez' or 'fash-eez']; plural also 'facies') is a body of rock with specified characteristics,[1] which can be any observable attribute of rocks (such as their overall appearance, composition, or condition of formation), and the changes that may occur in those attributes over a geographic area. It is the sum total characteristics of a rock including its chemical, physical, and biological features that distinguishes it from adjacent rock.[2]

The term facies was introduced by the Swiss geologist Amanz Gressly in 1838 and was part of his significant contribution to the foundations of modern stratigraphy,[3] which replaced the earlier notions of Neptunism.

Eolianite carbonate facies (Holocene) on Long Island, Bahamas

Types of facies

Sedimentary facies

Triassic Utah
Middle Triassic marginal marine siltstone and sandstone facies exposed in southern Utah

Ideally, a sedimentary facies is a distinctive rock unit that forms under certain conditions of sedimentation, reflecting a particular process or environment. Sedimentary facies are either descriptive or interpretative. Sedimentary facies are bodies of sediment that are recognizably distinct from adjacent sediments that resulted from different depositional environments. Generally, geologists distinguish facies by the aspect of the rock or sediment being studied. Facies based on petrological characters (such as grain size and mineralogy) are called lithofacies, whereas facies based on fossil content are called biofacies.

A facies is usually further subdivided, for example, one might refer to a "tan, cross-bedded oolitic limestone facies" or a "shale facies". The characteristics of the rock unit come from the depositional environment and from the original composition. Sedimentary facies reflect their depositional environment, each facies being a distinct kind of sediment for that area or environment.

Since its inception in 1838, the facies concept has been extended to related geological concepts. For example, characteristic associations of organic microfossils, and particulate organic material, in rocks or sediments, are called palynofacies. Discrete seismic units are similarly referred to as seismic facies.

Sedimentary facies are described in a group of "facies descriptors" which must be distinct, reproducible and exhaustive. A reliable facies description of an outcrop in the field would include: composition, texture, sedimentary structure(s), bedding geometry, nature of bedding contact, fossil content and colour.

Walther's Law of Facies

Stratigraphic column on the north shore of Isfjord in Svalbard Norway. The vertical succession of rock types (representing sedimentary facies) reflects lateral changes in paleoenvironment.

Walther's Law of Facies, or simply Walther's Law, named after the geologist Johannes Walther (1860-1937), states that the vertical succession of facies reflects lateral changes in environment. Conversely, it states that when a depositional environment "migrates" laterally, sediments of one depositional environment come to lie on top of another.[4] In Russia the law is known as Golovkinsky-Walther's Law, honoring also Nikolai A. Golovkinsky[5] (1834-1897). A classic example of this law is the vertical stratigraphic succession that typifies marine transgressions and regressions.

Metamorphic facies

The sequence of minerals that develop during progressive metamorphism (that is, metamorphism at progressively higher temperatures and/or pressures) define a facies series.

Seismic facies

Seismic facies are mappable three-dimensional seismic units composed of reflection units whose parameters differ from adjacent facies units.

See also


  1. ^ Reading, H. G. (1996). Sedimentary Environments and Facies. Blackwell Scientific Publications. ISBN 0-632-03627-3.
  2. ^ Parker, Sybil P. (1984). McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. McGraw-Hill. p. 705. ISBN 0-07-045482-5.
  3. ^ Cross, T. A.; Homewood, P. W. (1997). "Amanz Gressly's role in founding modern stratigraphy". Geological Society of America Bulletin. Geological Society of America. 109 (12): 1617–1630. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1997)109<1617:agsrif>2.3.co;2.
  4. ^ Stanley, Steven M. (1999). Earth System History. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company. p. 134. ISBN 0-7167-2882-6.
  5. ^ Nurgalieva, N. G.; Vinokurov, V. M.; Nurgaliev, D. K. (2007). "The Golovkinsky strata formation model, basic facies law and sequence stratigraphy concept: Historical sources and relations". Russian Journal of Earth Sciences. 9. doi:10.2205/2007ES000222. The fundamentals of the facies law, known in the West as Walther's Law and in Russia as Golovkinsky-Walther's Law, were also described in Golovkinsky's work long before Walther drew his conclusions on this subject. The present paper shows that the fundamentals of sequence stratigraphy were first set forth in the work of N. A. Golovkinsky.

Amphibolite ( ) is a metamorphic rock that contains amphibole, especially the species hornblende and actinolite, as well as plagioclase.

Amphibolite is a grouping of rocks composed mainly of amphibole and plagioclase feldspar, with little or no quartz. It is typically dark-colored and heavy, with a weakly foliated or schistose (flaky) structure. The small flakes of black and white in the rock often give it a salt-and-pepper appearance.

Amphibolite need not be derived from metamorphosed mafic rocks. Because metamorphism creates minerals entirely based upon the chemistry of the protolith, certain 'dirty marls' and volcanic sediments may actually metamorphose to an amphibolite assemblage. Deposits containing dolomite and siderite also readily yield amphibolite (tremolite-schist, grunerite-schist, and others) especially where there has been a certain amount of contact metamorphism by adjacent granitic masses. Metamorphosed basalt creates ortho-amphibolite and other chemically appropriate lithologies create para-amphibolite.

Tremolite, while it is a metamorphic amphibole, is derived most usually from highly metamorphosed ultramafic rocks, and thus tremolite-talc schist is not generally considered as 'amphibolite'. A holocrystalline plutonic igneous rock composed primarily of hornblende amphibole is called a hornblendite, which is usually a crystal cumulate rock. Igneous rocks with >90% amphiboles, which have a feldspar groundmass, may be a lamprophyre.


Blueschist ( ), also called glaucophane schist, is a metavolcanic rock that forms by the metamorphism of basalt and rocks with similar composition at high pressures and low temperatures (200 to ~500 degrees Celsius), approximately corresponding to a depth of 15 to 30 kilometers.

The blue color of the rock comes from the presence of the predominant minerals glaucophane and lawsonite.

Blueschists are typically found within orogenic belts as terranes of lithology in faulted contact with greenschist or rarely eclogite facies rocks.


Eclogite ( ) is a mafic metamorphic rock. Eclogite forms at pressures greater than those typical of the crust of the Earth. An unusually dense rock, eclogite can play an important role in driving convection within the solid Earth.

The fresh rock can be striking in appearance, with red to pink garnet (almandine-pyrope) in a green matrix of sodium-rich pyroxene (omphacite). Accessory minerals include kyanite, rutile, quartz, lawsonite, coesite, amphibole, phengite, paragonite, zoisite, dolomite, corundum, and, rarely, diamond. Plagioclase is not stable in eclogite.


Eumalacostraca is a subclass of crustaceans, containing almost all living malacostracans, or about 40,000 described species. The remaining subclasses are the Phyllocarida and possibly the Hoplocarida. Eumalacostracans have 19 segments (5 cephalic, 8 thoracic and 6 abdominal). This arrangement is known as the "caridoid facies", a term coined by William Thomas Calman in 1909. The thoracic limbs are jointed and used for swimming or walking. The common ancestor is thought to have had a carapace, and most living species possess one, but it has been lost in some subgroups.


The femur (, pl. femurs or femora ) or thigh bone, is the proximal bone of the hindlimb in tetrapod vertebrates. The head of the femur articulates with the acetabulum in the pelvic bone forming the hip joint, while the distal part of the femur articulates with the tibia and kneecap forming the knee joint. By most measures the femur is the strongest bone in the body. The femur is also the longest bone in the human body.


Granulites are a class of high-grade metamorphic rocks of the granulite facies that have experienced high-temperature and moderate-pressure metamorphism. They are medium to coarse–grained and mainly composed of feldspars sometimes associated with quartz and anhydrous ferromagnesian minerals, with granoblastic texture and gneissose to massive structure. They are of particular interest to geologists because many granulites represent samples of the deep continental crust. Some granulites experienced decompression from deep in the Earth to shallower crustal levels at high temperature; others cooled while remaining at depth in the Earth.

The minerals present in a granulite will vary depending on the parent rock of the granulite and the temperature and pressure conditions experienced during metamorphism. A common type of granulite found in high-grade metamorphic rocks of the continents contains pyroxene, plagioclase feldspar and accessory garnet, oxides and possibly amphiboles. Both clinopyroxene and orthopyroxene may be present, and in fact, the coexistence of clino- and orthopyroxene in a metabasite (metamorphed basalt) defines the granulite facies.

A granulite may be visually quite distinct with abundant small pink or red pyralspite garnets in a 'granular' holocrystalline matrix. Concentrations of garnets, micas, or amphiboles may form along a linear pattern resembling gneiss or migmatite banding.


Greenschists are metamorphic rocks that formed under the lowest temperatures and pressures usually produced by regional metamorphism, typically 300–450 °C (570–840 °F) and 2–10 kilobars (14,500–58,000 psi). Greenschists commonly have an abundance of green minerals such as chlorite, serpentine, and epidote, and platy minerals such as muscovite and platy serpentine. The platiness causes the tendency to split, or have schistosity. Other common minerals include quartz, orthoclase, talc, carbonate minerals and amphibole (actinolite).Greenschist is a general field petrologic term for metamorphic or altered mafic volcanic rock. In Europe, the term prasinite is sometimes used. A greenstone is sometimes a greenschist but can also be rock types without any schistosity, especially metabasalt (spilite or picrite). The green is due to abundant green chlorite, actinolite and epidote minerals that dominate the rock. However, basalts may remain quite black if primary pyroxene does not revert to chlorite or actinolite. To qualify for the name a rock must also exhibit schistosity or some foliation or layering. The rock is derived from basalt, gabbro or similar rocks containing sodium-rich plagioclase feldspar, chlorite, epidote and quartz.


The heart is a muscular organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. Blood provides the body with oxygen and nutrients, as well as assisting in the removal of metabolic wastes. In humans, the heart is located between the lungs, in the middle compartment of the chest.In humans, other mammals, and birds, the heart is divided into four chambers: upper left and right atria and lower left and right ventricles. Commonly the right atrium and ventricle are referred together as the right heart and their left counterparts as the left heart. Fish, in contrast, have two chambers, an atrium and a ventricle, while reptiles have three chambers. In a healthy heart blood flows one way through the heart due to heart valves, which prevent backflow. The heart is enclosed in a protective sac, the pericardium, which also contains a small amount of fluid. The wall of the heart is made up of three layers: epicardium, myocardium, and endocardium.The heart pumps blood with a rhythm determined by a group of pacemaking cells in the sinoatrial node. These generate a current that causes contraction of the heart, traveling through the atrioventricular node and along the conduction system of the heart. The heart receives blood low in oxygen from the systemic circulation, which enters the right atrium from the superior and inferior venae cavae and passes to the right ventricle. From here it is pumped into the pulmonary circulation, through the lungs where it receives oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide. Oxygenated blood then returns to the left atrium, passes through the left ventricle and is pumped out through the aorta to the systemic circulation−where the oxygen is used and metabolized to carbon dioxide. The heart beats at a resting rate close to 72 beats per minute. Exercise temporarily increases the rate, but lowers resting heart rate in the long term, and is good for heart health.Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the most common cause of death globally as of 2008, accounting for 30% of deaths. Of these more than three quarters are a result of coronary artery disease and stroke. Risk factors include: smoking, being overweight, little exercise, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poorly controlled diabetes, among others. Cardiovascular diseases frequently do not have symptoms or may cause chest pain or shortness of breath. Diagnosis of heart disease is often done by the taking of a medical history, listening to the heart-sounds with a stethoscope, ECG, and ultrasound. Specialists who focus on diseases of the heart are called cardiologists, although many specialties of medicine may be involved in treatment.


Hypomimia (masked facies, masking of facies), a medical sign, is a reduced degree of facial expression. It can be caused by motor impairment (for example, weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles), as in Parkinson's disease, or by other causes, such as psychological or psychiatric factors (for example, if a patient does not feel emotions and thus does not show any expression).

Persons receiving excessive Botox treatments and thus losing disproportionate facial expression features may be incorrectly identified as suffering from hypomimia.


The lungs are the primary organs of the respiratory system in humans and many other animals including a few fish and some snails. In mammals and most other vertebrates, two lungs are located near the backbone on either side of the heart. Their function in the respiratory system is to extract oxygen from the atmosphere and transfer it into the bloodstream, and to release carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere, in a process of gas exchange. Respiration is driven by different muscular systems in different species. Mammals, reptiles and birds use their different muscles to support and foster breathing. In early tetrapods, air was driven into the lungs by the pharyngeal muscles via buccal pumping, a mechanism still seen in amphibians. In humans, the main muscle of respiration that drives breathing is the diaphragm. The lungs also provide airflow that makes vocal sounds including human speech possible.

Humans have two lungs, a right lung and a left lung. They are situated within the thoracic cavity of the chest. The right lung is bigger than the left, which shares space in the chest with the heart. The lungs together weigh approximately 1.3 kilograms (2.9 lb), and the right is heavier. The lungs are part of the lower respiratory tract that begins at the trachea and branches into the bronchi and bronchioles, and which receive air breathed in via the conducting zone. The conducting zone ends at the terminal bronchioles. These divide into the respiratory bronchioles of the respiratory zone which divide into alveolar ducts that give rise to the microscopic alveoli, where gas exchange takes place. Together, the lungs contain approximately 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli. Each lung is enclosed within a pleural sac which allows the inner and outer walls to slide over each other whilst breathing takes place, without much friction. This sac also divides each lung into sections called lobes. The right lung has three lobes and the left has two. The lobes are further divided into bronchopulmonary segments and lobules. The lungs have a unique blood supply, receiving deoxygenated blood from the heart in the pulmonary circulation for the purposes of receiving oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, and a separate supply of oxygenated blood to the tissue of the lungs, in the bronchial circulation.

The tissue of the lungs can be affected by a number of diseases, including pneumonia and lung cancer. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes chronic bronchitis and previously termed emphysema, can be related to smoking or exposure to harmful substances such as coal dust, asbestos fibres and crystalline silica dust. Diseases such as bronchitis can also affect the respiratory tract. Medical terms related to the lung often begin with pulmo-, from the Latin pulmonarius (of the lungs) as in pulmonology, or with pneumo- (from Greek πνεύμων "lung") as in pneumonia.

In embryonic development, the lungs begin to develop as an outpouching of the foregut, a tube which goes on to form the upper part of the digestive system. When the lungs are formed the fetus is held in the fluid-filled amniotic sac and so they do not function to breathe. Blood is also diverted from the lungs through the ductus arteriosus. At birth however, air begins to pass through the lungs, and the diversionary duct closes, so that the lungs can begin to respire. The lungs only fully develop in early childhood.


Malacostraca is the largest of the six classes of crustaceans, containing about 40,000 living species, divided among 16 orders. Its members, the malacostracans, display a great diversity of body forms and include crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, woodlice, amphipods, mantis shrimp and many other, less familiar animals. They are abundant in all marine environments and have colonised freshwater and terrestrial habitats. They are segmented animals, united by a common body plan comprising 20 body segments (rarely 21), and divided into a head, thorax, and abdomen.

Marine transgression

A marine transgression is a geologic event during which sea level rises relative to the land and the shoreline moves toward higher ground, resulting in flooding. Transgressions can be caused either by the land sinking or the ocean basins filling with water (or decreasing in capacity). Transgressions and regressions may be caused by tectonic events such as orogenies, severe climate change such as ice ages or isostatic adjustments following removal of ice or sediment load.

During the Cretaceous, seafloor spreading created a relatively shallow Atlantic basin at the expense of deeper Pacific basin. This reduced the world's ocean basin capacity and caused a rise in sea level worldwide. As a result of this sea level rise, the oceans transgressed completely across the central portion of North America and created the Western Interior Seaway from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

The opposite of transgression is regression, in which the sea level falls relative to the land and exposes former sea bottom. During the Pleistocene Ice Ages, so much water was removed from the oceans and stored on land as year-round glaciers that the ocean regressed 120 m, exposing the Bering land bridge between Alaska and Asia.


The maxilla (plural: maxillae ) in animals is the upper fixed bone of the jaw formed from the fusion of two maxillary bones. The upper jaw includes the hard palate in the front of the mouth. The two maxillary bones are fused at the intermaxillary suture, forming the anterior nasal spine. This is similar to the mandible (lower jaw), which is also a fusion of two mandibular bones at the mandibular symphysis. The mandible is the movable part of the jaw.

Metamorphic facies

A metamorphic facies is a set of mineral assemblages in metamorphic rocks formed under similar pressures and temperatures. The assemblage is typical of what is formed in conditions corresponding to an area on the two dimensional graph of temperature vs. pressure (See diagram in Figure 1). Rocks which contain certain minerals can therefore be linked to certain tectonic settings, times and places in the geological history of the area. The boundaries between facies (and corresponding areas on the temperature v. pressure graph) are wide because they are gradational and approximate. The area on the graph corresponding to rock formation at the lowest values of temperature and pressure is the range of formation of sedimentary rocks, as opposed to metamorphic rocks, in a process called diagenesis.


Metamorphism is the change of minerals or geologic texture (distinct arrangement of minerals) in pre-existing rocks (protoliths), without the protolith melting into liquid magma (a solid-state change). The change occurs primarily due to heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. The chemical components and crystal structures of the minerals making up the rock may change even though the rock remains a solid. Changes at or just beneath Earth's surface due to weathering or diagenesis are not classified as metamorphism. Metamorphism typically occurs between diagenesis (maximum 200°C), and melting (~850°C).The geologists who study metamorphism are known as "metamorphic petrologists." To determine the processes underlying metamorphism, they rely heavily on statistical mechanics and experimental petrology.

Three types of metamorphism exist: contact, dynamic, and regional. Metamorphism produced with increasing pressure and temperature conditions is known as prograde metamorphism. Conversely, decreasing temperatures and pressure characterize retrograde metamorphism.


The pancreas is an organ of the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. In humans, it is located in the abdomen behind the stomach.

The pancreas is a gland, having both an endocrine and a digestive exocrine function. As an endocrine gland, it functions mostly to regulate blood sugar levels, secreting the hormones insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide. As a part of the digestive system, it secretes pancreatic juice into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. This juice contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid entering the duodenum from the stomach; and digestive enzymes, which break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food entering the duodenum from the stomach.


The sacrum ( or ; plural: sacra or sacrums), in human anatomy, is a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine that forms by the fusing of sacral vertebrae S1–S5 between 18 and 30 years of age.The sacrum is situated at the upper, back part of the pelvic cavity, between the two wings of the pelvis. It forms joints with four other bones. The two projections at the sides of the sacrum are called the alae (wings), and articulate with the ilium at the L-shaped sacroiliac joints. The upper part of the sacrum connects with the last lumbar vertebra, and its lower part with the coccyx (tailbone) via the sacral and coccygeal cornua.

The sacrum has three different surfaces which are shaped to accommodate surrounding pelvic structures. Overall it is concave (curved upon itself). The base of the sacrum, the broadest and uppermost part, is tilted forward as the sacral promontory internally. The central part is curved outward toward the posterior, allowing greater room for the pelvic cavity.

In all other quadrupedal vertebrates, the pelvic vertebrae undergo a similar developmental process to form a sacrum in the adult, even while the bony tail (caudal) vertebrae remain unfused. The number of sacral vertebrae varies slightly. For instance, the S1–S5 vertebrae of a horse will fuse, the S1–S3 of a dog will fuse, and four pelvic vertebrae of a rat will fuse between the lumbar and the caudal vertebrae of its tail. The Stegosaurus dinosaur had a greatly enlarged neural canal in the sacrum, characterized as a "posterior brain case”.

Sedimentary rock

Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particles to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock are called sediment, and may be composed of geological detritus (minerals) or biological detritus (organic matter). Before being deposited, the geological detritus was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Biological detritus was formed by bodies and parts (mainly shells) of dead aquatic organisms, as well as their fecal mass, suspended in water and slowly piling up on the floor of water bodies (marine snow). Sedimentation may also occur as dissolved minerals precipitate from water solution.

The sedimentary rock cover of the continents of the Earth's crust is extensive (73% of the Earth's current land surface), but the total contribution of sedimentary rocks is estimated to be only 8% of the total volume of the crust. Sedimentary rocks are only a thin veneer over a crust consisting mainly of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Sedimentary rocks are deposited in layers as strata, forming a structure called bedding. The study of sedimentary rocks and rock strata provides information about the subsurface that is useful for civil engineering, for example in the construction of roads, houses, tunnels, canals or other structures. Sedimentary rocks are also important sources of natural resources like coal, fossil fuels, drinking water or ores.

The study of the sequence of sedimentary rock strata is the main source for an understanding of the Earth's history, including palaeogeography, paleoclimatology and the history of life. The scientific discipline that studies the properties and origin of sedimentary rocks is called sedimentology. Sedimentology is part of both geology and physical geography and overlaps partly with other disciplines in the Earth sciences, such as pedology, geomorphology, geochemistry and structural geology. Sedimentary rocks have also been found on Mars.

Zygomatic bone

In the human skull, the zygomatic bone (cheekbone or malar bone) is a paired irregular bone which articulates with the maxilla, the temporal bone, the sphenoid bone and the frontal bone. It is situated at the upper and lateral part of the face and forms the prominence of the cheek, part of the lateral wall and floor of the orbit, and parts of the temporal fossa and the infratemporal fossa. It presents a malar and a temporal surface; four processes (the frontosphenoidal, orbital, maxillary, and temporal), and four borders.

Geologic principles and processes
Stratigraphic principles
Petrologic principles
Geomorphologic processes
Sediment transport

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