Photo/IllutrationThe Chiba Section, a stratum that features traces of geomagnetic reversal, stretches along the Yorogawa river in Ichihara's Tabuchi district in Chiba Prefecture. (Yumi Nakayama)

  • Photo/Illustraion

ICHIHARA, Chiba Prefecture--City authorities plan to establish an ordinance to override opposition to efforts to have a geological age named “Chibanian” after the prefecture.

City officials said they hope to break the deadlock over an application to have a rare geological stratum, which features traces of the last geomagnetic reversal 770,000 years ago, designated as Japan’s first Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP).

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is screening the application filed by a team of scientists. If the stratum, known as the Chiba Section, is recognized as a GSSP, the geological age between 126,000 years and 770,000 years ago will be called “Chibanian,” which means the era of Chiba.

However, Hisashi Nirei, a professor emeritus at Ibaraki University who claims that application documents were fabricated, obtained the right to lease part of the site in Ichihara’s Tabuchi district, blocking researchers from entering the site.

The proposed ordinance is designed to ensure access to the site and specimen sampling for research purposes, which are prerequisites for a GSSP application.

“It will be the greatest honor for local residents if the era named after Chiba is introduced in textbooks around the world,” Ichihara Mayor Joji Koide said at a news conference in June, when city officials outlined the proposed ordinance.

City officials said they hope the draft ordinance will be approved during a municipal assembly session in September.

The ordinance will stipulate that researchers “shall not be prohibited or hampered from entering specific areas for specimen sampling” and that “violators shall face an administrative fine of up to 50,000 yen ($467).”

The area around the Chiba Section was designated by the central government as a natural treasure in October. The Ichihara city was chosen to manage the site in March.

City officials said the stratum possesses an extremely high value and contributes to the advancement of academic research all over the world.

Yusuke Suganuma, an associate professor of magnetics at the National Institute of Polar Research who is among the scientists behind the GSSP application, described the city’s decision to introduce the ordinance as “a significant step forward.”

“If the ordinance is enacted, application requirements will be met,” said Suganuma.

The residents’ association in the Tabuchi district also issued a statement, saying it strongly hoped the stratum would be designated as a GSSP.