The Mississippian is an epoch of the Carboniferous period lasting from roughly 360 Ma to 325 Ma (million years ago). As with most other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified, but the exact start and end dates are uncertain by a few million years.
The Appalachian Mountains were formed during the Mississippian Epoch. In North America, where the interval consists primarily of marine limestones, it is treated as a full-fledged geologic period between the Devonian and the Pennsylvanian. In Europe, the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian are one more-or-less continuous sequence of lowland continental deposits and are lumped together as the Carboniferous period.
The Mississippian is so-named because rocks from this age are exposed in the Mississippi River valley.
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