Skip to main content
Select Source:

Geological Time Scale

Geological Time Scale

Geologic Time Scale
Era Period Epoch Significant Events Million Years Before Present
Cenozoic Quartenary Holocene recorded human history, rise and fall of civilizations, global warming, habitat destruction, pollution mass extinction 0.01
Pleistocene Homo sapiens, ice ages 1.6
Tertiary Pliocene global cooling, savannahs, grazing mammals 5.3
Miocene global warming, grasslands, Chalicotherium 24
Oligocene 37
Eocene modern mammals flourish, ungulates 58
Paleocene 66
Mesozoic Cretaceous last of age of dinosaurs, modern mammals appear, flowering plants, insects 144
Jurassic huge plant-eating dinosaurs, carnivorous dinosaurs, first birds, breakup of Pangea 208
Triassic lycophytes, glossopterids, and dicynodonts, and the dinosaurs 245
Paleozoic Permian Permian ends with largest mass extinction in history of Earth, most marine inverterbrates extinct 286
Pennsylvanian vast coal swamps, evolution of amniote egg allowing exploitation of land 320
Missipian shallow seas cover most of Earth 360
Devonian vascular plants, the first tetrapods, wingless insects, arachnids, brachiopods, corals, and ammonite were also common, many new kinds of fish appeared 408
Silurian Coral reefs, rapid spread of jawless fish, first freshwater fish, first fish with jaws, first good evidence of life on land, including relatives of spiders and centipedes 438
Ordovician most dry land collected into Gondwana, many marine invertebrates, including graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and the conodonts (early vertebrates), red and green algae, primitive fish, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, and gastropods, possibly first land plants 505
Cambrian most major groups of animals first appear, Cambrian explosion 570
Proterozoic stable continents first appear, first abundant fossils of living organisms, mostly bacteria and archeobacteria, first eukaryotes, first evidence of oxygen build-up 2500
Archean atmosphere of methane, ammonia, rocks and continental plates began to form, oldest fossils consist of bacteria microfossils stromatolites, colonies of photosynthetic bacteria 3800
Hadean pre-geologic time, Earth in formation 4500

Bibliography

Foster, Robert. Geology. 3rd ed. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill, 1976.

Stanley, Stephen. Earth and Life Through Time. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1989.

Toulmin, Stephen and June Goodfield. The Discovery of Time. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

Internet Resources

United States Geological Survey. <http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/fossils/contents.html>.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Geological Time Scale." Animal Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Geological Time Scale." Animal Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/geological-time-scale

"Geological Time Scale." Animal Sciences. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/geological-time-scale

geologic time-scale

geologic time-scale A two-fold scale that subdivides all the time since the Earth first came into being into named units of abstract time, and subdivides all the rocks formed since the Earth came into being, into the successions of rock formed during each particular interval of time. The branch of geology that deals with the age relations of rocks is known as chronostratigraphy. The concept of a geologic time-scale has been evolving for the last century and a half, commencing with a relative time-scale (mainly achieved through biostratigraphy), to which it has gradually become possible to assign dates (see DATING METHODS) which are, nonetheless, subject to constant revision and refinement. Since the first International Geological Congress in Paris in 1878, one of the main objectives of stratigraphers has been the production of a complete and globally accepted stratigraphic scale to provide a historical framework into which all rocks, anywhere in the world, can be fitted (see STANDARD STRATIGRAPHIC SCALE; CHRONOSTRATIGRAPHIC SCALE; UNIFIED STRATIGRAPHIC SCALE). Such a standard scale is still a long way off, but the names for geologic-time units and chronostratigraphic units down to the rank of period/system are in common use; many epoch/series and age/stage names are still regionally variable. See Time Scales gives an outline geologic time-scale employing currently common names and dates (though they are not necessarily universally accepted).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geologic-time-scale

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geologic-time-scale

geologic time-scale

geologic time-scale A twofold scale that subdivides all the time since the Earth first came into being into named units of abstract time, and subdivides all the rocks formed since the Earth came into being into the successions of rock formed during each particular interval of time. The branch of geology that deals with the age relations of rocks is known as chronostratigraphy. The concept of a geologic time-scale has been evolving for the last century and a half, commencing with a relative time-scale (mainly achieved through biostratigraphy), to which it has gradually become possible to assign dates which are, nonetheless, subject to constant revision and refinement. Since the first International Geological Congress in Paris in 1878, one of the main objectives of stratigraphers has been the production of a complete and globally accepted stratigraphic scale to provide a historical framework into which all rocks, anywhere in the world, can be fitted. Such a standard scale is still a long way off, but the names for geologic-time units and chronostratigraphic units down to the rank of period/system are in common use; many epoch/series and age/stage names are still regionally variable.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geologic-time-scale-0

"geologic time-scale." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geologic-time-scale-0

Geologic Timescale ( (table))

Geologic Timescale

 Not an era but the time preceding the Cambrian.
Geologic Timescale
Era Period Epoch Approximate duration(millions of years) Approximate number of years ago(millions of years)
Cenozoic Quaternary Holocene 10,000 years ago to the present  
Pleistocene 2 .01
Tertiary Pliocene 11 2
Miocene 12 13
Oligocene 11 25
Eocene 22 36
Paleocene 71 58
Mesozoic Cretaceous   71 65
Jurassic   54 136
Triassic   35 190
Paleozoic Permian   55 225
Carboniferous   65 280
Devonian   60 345
Silurian   20 405
Ordovician   75 425
Cambrian   100 500
Precambrian     >4,000 600

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Geologic Timescale ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Geologic Timescale ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geologic-timescale-table

"Geologic Timescale ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geologic-timescale-table

geologic timescale

geologic timescale, a chronological scale of earth's history used to measure the relative or absolute age of any part of geologic time. Of the numerous timescales, the most common is based on geologic time units, which divide time into eras, periods, and epochs. Each division is based on a specific set of geological or paleontological conditions that make it different from the other divisions, such as varying rock type or fossils within the strata. The largest unit is the eon; eons are subdivided into eras; eras into periods; and some, usually more recent periods, into epochs. In some timescales, epochs are further divided into ages. Each geologic time chart varies, depending on the latest findings dating rocks and fossils of that particular age, or on the country where the chart originated. For each unit and its subdivisions, which are listed in the table entitled Geologic Timescale, see separate articles.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"geologic timescale." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"geologic timescale." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geologic-timescale

"geologic timescale." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geologic-timescale

geological time

geological time Time scale of the history of Earth. Until recently, only methods of relative dating were possible, by studying the correlation of rock formations and fossils. The largest divisions of geologic time are called eras, each of which is broken down into periods, which, in turn, are subdivided into series or epochs.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"geological time." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"geological time." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geological-time

"geological time." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/geological-time

geological time scale

geological time scale A time scale that covers the earth's history from its origin, estimated to be about 4600 million years ago, to the present. The chronology is divided into a hierarchy of time intervals: eons, eras, periods, epochs, ages, and chrons.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"geological time scale." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"geological time scale." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geological-time-scale

"geological time scale." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/geological-time-scale