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Each layer is generally one of a number of parallel layers that lie one upon another, laid down by natural processes. They may extend over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of the Earth's surface. Strata are typically seen as bands of different colored or differently structured material exposed in cliffs, road cuts, quarries, and river banks. Individual bands may vary in thickness from a few millimeters to a kilometer or more. Each band represents a specific mode of deposition: river silt, beach sand, coal swamp, sand dune, lava bed, etc.

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