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Palaeos:

TIMESCALE

GEOLOGICAL TIMESCALE GEOLOGICAL TIME TABLES

Geological Time
Timescale Main Page Geological Timescale Stratigraphy Radiometric dating Detailed Geological Timescale Precambrian Time Phanerozoic Eon Geological Time Units Glossary References Introduction The Geological Timescale ICS: Basic Table ICS: detailed table Links

Introduction
Geologists and Paleontologists measure the age of the Earth and the history of life in ages of millions and even billions of years of "deep time". The entire history of humankind is but a blink of an eye next to the vastness of geological time. For this reason a special sort of "calendar" or "almanac" is required; one that measures not days, weeks, months or years, but millions and tens of millions of years. This is the Geological Time-Scale The Geological Time-Scale is hierarchical, consisting of (from smallest to largest units) ages, epochs, periods, eras and eons. Each era, lasting many tens or hundreds of millions of years, is characterized by completely different conditions and unique ecosystems. For example, dinosaurs only lived during the Mesozoic era. Mammals have been predominant during the Cenozoic. And so on. We know that these rocks, and the fossils they contain, are tens or hundreds of millions of years old because they can be dated according to the amount of residual radioactivity. Because it was derived from the stratigraphic charts of 18th and 19th century geologists, the Geological time-scale is usually represented as a vertical table to be read from the bottom up; the oldest eras and periods at the bottom, the youngest at the top. The reason for this

strange convention is due to the table being a rough and rather symbolic representation of the layers of sedimentary rocks that make up the Earth's crust. The earlier layers were deposited first, the younger ones on top of them. More recently, other conventions are also used, such as horizontal (usually reading from left (oldest) to right (youngest), circular, or even, as shown in the above diagram) spiral. MAK, revised ATW080303, MAK110825

The Geological Timescale


We follow the geological time scale as determined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). The ICS has not finished its job and gaps remain, particularly in the Early Paleozoic. Where gaps occur, we generally follow the Russian system for the Cambrian and the British system for the Silurian. We also have divided the Neoproterozoic periods into epochs and ages. The choice of colours shown follows the semi-official color scheme of the Commision de la Carte Gologique du Monde. On the whole, this scheme is uglier than its predecessors, particularly for the Precambrian; but the whole point of having international standards is that they supercede individual judgments. For correlations we generally assume the Geowhen Database is authoritative unless we have good reason to believe otherwise (and we haven't found one yet). The ICS does not recognize the Hadean, so we have adopted the suggestions Goldblatt et al 2010 has suggested (along with their new Chaotian eon) and the Prenephelean Eon, which replaces the earlier classification derived from the lunar stratigraphic column and our own color scheme. Each of the eons, eras, periods, and ages are, or will be, described in more detail on their respective pages. Note that the divisions of the periods and eras are not to scale (The Paleoproterozoic Era for example is longer than the entire Phanerozoic eon). An asterisk (*) indicates an informal division, non-ICS name, or idiosyncratic use of an established name. Various color charts can be obtained here. The ICS time chart, using (more or less) this color scheme, is available here.

ICS: Basic Table


Eon Era Cenozoic Era: CZ Phanerozoic Eon: PH Period Neogene N Paleogene E Cretaceous K Mesozoic Era: MZ Paleozoic Era: PZ Jurassic J Triassic T Permian P begin - end (Mya) 23.0 65.5 - 23.0 146 - 65.5 200 146 251 - 200 299 251

Carboniferous C Devonian D Silurian S Ordovician O Cambrian Ediacaran V Neoproterozoic NP Proterozoic PR Mesoproterozoic MP Paleoproterozoic PP Neoarchean NA Archean AR Mesoarchean MA Paleoarchean PA Eoarchean* EA Neohadean* NH Hadean* HA Chaotian* CH Mesohadean* MH Palaeohadean* PH Cryogenian CY Tonian TN

359 299 416 359 444 416 488 444 542 488 630 542 850 630 1000 - 850 1600 - 1000 2500 - 1600 2800 - 2500 3200 - 2800 3600 - 3200 3800 - 3600 4100 - 3800 4,300 - 4100 4500 - 4300 c. 4600-4500

ICS: detailed table


Eon Era Period Epoch Holocene N4 Pleistocene N3 Phanerozoic Eon: Cenozoic: CZ PH Neogene N Pliocene N2 Age Anthropocene* n13 Tarantian n12 Ionian n11 Calabrian n10 Gelasian n9 Piacenzian n8 Zanclian n7 begin - end (Mya) 0.0118 Now 0.126 - 0.0118 0.781 - 0.126 1.81 - 0.781 2.59 - 1.81 3.60 - 2.59 5.33 - 3.60

Messinian n6 Tortonian n5 Miocene N1 Serravallian n4 Langhian n3 Burdigalian n2 Aquitanian n1 Oligocene E3 Chattian e9 Rupelian e8 Priabonian e7 Paleogene E Eocene E2 Bartonian e6 Lutetian e5 Ypresian e4 Thanetian e3 Paleocene E1 Selandian e2 Danian e1 Maastrichtian k12 End-Cretaceous* Campanian k11 Santonian k10 High Cretaceous* Cretaceous K Aptian-Albian* Mesozoic: MZ Neocomian* Coniacian k9 Turonian k8 Cenomanian k7 Albian k6 Aptian k5 Barremian k4 Hauterivian k3 Valanginian k2 Berriasian k1 Tithonian j11 Malm* J3 Jurassic J Dogger* J2 Kimmeridgian j10 Oxfordian j9 Callovian j8 Bathonian j7

7.25 - 5.33 11.6 - 7.25 13.7 - 11.6 16.0 - 13.7 20.4 - 16.0 23.0 - 20.4 28.4 - 23.0 33.9 - 28.4 37.2 - 33.9 40.4 - 37.2 48.6 - 40.4 55.8 - 48.6 58.7 - 55.8 61.7 - 58.7 65.5 - 61.7 70.6 - 65.5 83.5 - 70.6 85.8 - 83.5 89.3 - 85.8 93.5 - 89.3 99.6 - 93.5 112 - 99.6 125 112 130 125 136 130 140 136 146 140 151 146 156 151 161 156 165 161 168 165

Bajocian j6 Aalenian j5 Toarcian j4 Lias* J1 Pliensbachian j3 Sinemurian j2 Hettangian j1 Rhaetian t7 Keuper* T3 Triassic T Norian t6 Carnian t5 Muschelkalk* T2 Scythian(Bunter)* T1 Lopingian P3 Ladinian t4 Anisian t3 Olenekian t2 Induan t1 Changhsingian p9 Wuchiapingian p8 Capitanian p7 Guadalupian P2 Permian P Wordian p6 Roadian p5 Kungurian p4 Cisuralian P1 Artinskian p3 Sakmarian p2 Asselian p1 Paleozoic: PZ Pennsylvanian C2 Carboniferous C Mississippian C1 Gzhelian cb7 Kasimovian cb6 Moscovian cb5 Bashkirian cb4 Serpukhovian cb3 Visan cb2 Tournaisian cb1 Devonian D Late Devonian D3 Middle Devonian Famennian d7 Frasnian d6 Givetian d5

172 168 176 172 183 176 190 183 197 190 200 197 204 200 217 204 228 217 237 228 245 237 250 245 251 250 254 251 260 - 254 266 260 268 - 266 271 - 268 276 - 271 285 276 295 - 284 299 295 304 - 299 307 - 304 312 - 307 318 312 326 318 345 326 359 345 375 359 385 375 392 385

D2

Eifelian d4 Emsian d3

398 392 407 398 411 407 416 411 419 416 421 - 419 423 421 426 - 423 428 426 436 - 428 439 - 436 444 439 446 - 444 456 - 446 461 - 456 468 461 472 - 468 479 - 472 488 479 493* - 488 496* - 492* 501 - 496* 503* - 501 507 503* 510* - 507* 513*-510* 517* 513* 521* 517* 528* - 521* 542 528* 544*- 542 553* - 544*

Early Devonian D1 Pragian d2 Lochkovian d1 Pridoli S4 Ludlow S3 Silurian S Wenlock S2 (not divided) Ludfordian s7 Gorstian s6 Homerian s5 Sheinwoodian s4 Telychian s3 Llandovery S1 Aeronian s2 Rhuddanian s1 Hirnantian o7 Dyfed* O3 Ordovician O Katian o6 Sandbian o5 Bala* O2 Canadian* O1 Darriwillian o4 Dapingian o3 Floian o2 Tremadoc o1 Dolgellian* cm10 Furongian 4 Jiangshanian cm9 Paiban cm8 Guzhangian cm7 Merioneth* 3 Cambrian Yakutian* 2 Drumian cm6 Amgan * cm5 Toyonian* cm4 Botomian* cm3 Atdabanian* cm3 Terreneuvian 1 Proterozoic PR Neoproterozoic NP Ediacaran V Vendian* V2 Tommotian* cm2 Fortunian* c1 Poundian* v10 Namanian* v9

Zimnian* v8 Wonokan* v7 Avalonian* v6 Mortensnes* v5 Drookian* v4 Marinoan * V1 Nyborg* v3 McKenzian* v2 Smalfjord* v1 Tabescoian* cy8 Varangian * CY2 Cryogenian CY Sturtian* CY1 Colliquefacian* cy7 Algidusian* cy6 Stiriacusian* cy5 Congelatian* cy4 Viburnian* cy3 Rigentian* cy2 Frigidatian* cy1 Tonian Age X* Tonian Epoch 3* TN3 Tonian Age IX* Tonian Age VIII* Tonian Age VII* Tonian TN Tonian Age VI* Tonian Epoch 2* TN2 Tonian Age V* Tonian Age IV* Tonian Age III* Tonian Epoch 1* TN1 Stenian MP3 Mesoproterozoic MP Ectasian MP2 Calymmian MP1 Statherian PP4 Paleoproterozoic PP Orosirian PP3 Rhyacian PP2 Siderian PP1 Tonian Age II* Tonian Age I*

558* - 553* 565*-558* 570*- 565* 580* -570* 593* - 580* 605*- 593* 620* - 605* 630 - 620* ~645*- 630 ~665* - ~645* ~690* - ~665* ~730* - ~690 ~755* - ~730* ~785* - ~755* ~825* - ~785* 850 - ~825* 869 850 878 869 894 - 878 913 894 925 913 937 925 955 937 975 955 980 975 1000 980 12001000 1400 1200 1600 1400 1800 1600 2050 1800 2300 2050 2500 2300

Ventersdorp* VD Neoarchean NA Central Rand* CR Dominion* DI Methanian* ME Mesoarchean MA Archean AR Paleoarchean PA Moodies* M Figtree* FT Onverwacht* OW Pongola* PG Limpopo* PA2 Isuan* PA1 Vaalbaran* EA2 Eoarchean* EA Cratarian* EA2 Incussian* EA1 Neohadean* NH Hadean*HA Promethean* NH2 Acastan* NH1 Mesohadean* MH Palaeohadean* PH Neochaotian* NCH Chaotian* CH Eochaotian* ECH Procrustean* MH2 Canadian* MH1 Jacobian* PH2 Hephaestean* PH1 Titanomachean* NCH2 Hyperitian* NCH1 Erebrean* ECH2 Nephelean* ECH1 "Early Imbrian"* EI "Nectarian"* NC

2600 2500 2750 2600 2800 2750 2900 2800 3000 2900 3100 3000 3200 3100 3350 3200 3500 3350 3600 3500 3650 3600 3700 - 3650 3800 3700 3,900 -3800 4000 3950 c.4100- 4000 c.4200- 4100 c.4300- 4200 c.4490- 4300 c.4500- 4490 c.4560-4500 c.4567-4560 c.4630-4567 c.4680-4630 c. 4750 - 4680 c. 4800 - 4750 9000 4800 c.13500 9000

Prenephelean* PN

Neoprenephelean* Neoprenephelean System II* NPN Neoprenephelean System I* Eoprenephelean* EPN Incipian* epn2 Genesian* epn1

* Not recognized by ICS The above timescale is a work in progress and will doubtless be modified with future discoveries and suggestions. For example John Laurie, Daniel Mantle and Robert S Nicoll, Customising the geological timescale note that the 2004 version of the Geological Time Scale is mainly built around northern hemisphere datasets and, many of the biozones used

in Australia were not included. There is also the problem of the length of particular ages, such as the Short Norian - Long Norian controversy (see posts, on Chinleana (and included links) and paper (pdf) by Paul Olsen; contra Spencer Lucas (The Triassic Timescale; currently we haven't updated this new paradigm in Palaeos although this is planned as part of the overall revision). MAK110920

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