|358.9 ± 0.4 - 323.2 ± 0.4 Ma|
|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition||FAD of the Conodont Siphonodella sulcata (discovered to have biostratigraphic issues as of 2006)|
|Lower boundary GSSP||La Serre, Montagne Noire, France|
|Upper boundary definition||FAD of the Conodont Declinognathodus nodiliferus|
|Upper boundary GSSP||Arrow Canyon, Nevada, United States|
The Mississippian ( miss-ih-SIP-ee-?-n, also known as Lower Carboniferous or Early Carboniferous) is a subperiod in the geologic timescale or a subsystem of the geologic record. It is the earlier/lower of two subperiods of the Carboniferous period lasting from roughly 358.9 to 323.2 million years ago. As with most other geochronologic units, the rock beds that define the Mississippian are well identified, but the exact start and end dates are uncertain by a few million years. The Mississippian is so named because rocks with this age are exposed in the Mississippi Valley.
The Mississippian was a period of marine transgression in the Northern Hemisphere: the sea level was so high that only the Fennoscandian Shield and the Laurentian Shield were dry land. The cratons were surrounded by extensive delta systems and lagoons, and carbonate sedimentation on the surrounding continental platforms, covered by shallow seas.
In North America, where the interval consists primarily of marine limestones, it is treated as a geologic period between the Devonian and the Pennsylvanian. During the Mississippian an important phase of orogeny occurred in the Appalachian Mountains. The USGS geologic time scale shows its relation to other periods.
In the official geologic timescale, the Mississippian is subdivided into three stages:
The lower two come from European stratigraphy, the top from Russian stratigraphy. Besides Europe and Russia, there are many local subdivisions that are used as alternatives for the international timescale. In the North American system, the Mississippian is subdivided into four stages: