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On The Geologic Time Scale

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This report summarizes the international divisions and ages in the Geologic Time Scale, published in 2012 (GTS2012). Since 2004, when GTS2004 was detailed, major developments have taken place that directly bear and have considerable impact on the intricate science of geologic time scaling. Precam brian now has a detailed proposal for chronostratigraphic subdivision instead of an outdated and abstract chronometric one. Of 100 chronostratigraphic units in the Phanerozoic 63 now have formal definitions, but stable chronostratigraphy in part of upper Paleozoic, Triassic and Middle Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous is still wanting.

Detailed age calibration now exist between radiometric methods and orbital tuning, making 40Ar-39 Ar dates 0.64% older and more accurate. In general, numeric uncertainty in the time scale, although complex and not entirely amenable to objective analysis, is improved and reduced. Bases of Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic are bracketed by analytically precise ages, respectively 541 0.63, 252.16 0.5, and 65.95 0.05 Ma. High-resolution, direct age-dates now exist for base-Carboniferous, base-Permian, base-Jurassic, base-Cenomanian and base-Eocene. Relative to GTS2004, 26 of 100 time scale boundaries have changed age, of which 14 have changed more than 4 Ma, and 4 (in Middle to Late Triassic) between 6 and 12 Ma. There is much higher stratigraphic resolution in Late Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Paleogene, and improved integration with stable isotopes stratigraphy. Cenozoic and Cretaceous have a refined magneto-biochronology. The spectacular outcrop sections for the Rosello Composite in Sicily, Italy and at Zumaia, Basque Province, Spain encompass the Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points for two Pliocene and two Paleocene stages. Since the cycle record indicates, to the best of our knowledge that the stages sediment fill is stratigraphically complete, these sections also may fulfill the important role of stage unit stratotypes for three of these stages, Piacenzian, Zanclean and Danian.
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Keywords: GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE; PRECAMBRIAN; STANDARD CHRONOSTRATIGRAPHY; STRATOTYPE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Newsletters on Stratigraphy is an international, peer-reviewed journal with a focus on stratigraphic issues that are relevant for a broad geoscientific community. Papers published in Newsletters on Stratigraphy use (and ideally integrate) stratigraphic methodologies from a wide field of disciplines, including (but not limited to) biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, and magnetostratigraphy.

    The results have implications for paleogeographic reconstructions, paleoceanography, paleoclimate, biotic evolution, basin development, or regional and supraregional correlation.

    Papers published in Newsletters on Stratigraphy comprise original research articles, background information on ongoing work of e.g., the International Stratigraphic Commission (ICS) and the International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification (ISSC), and review articles. There are no page charges for the publication of regular papers.
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