Original paper

On The Geologic Time Scale

Gradstein, Felix M.; Ogg, James G.; Hilgen, Frits J.


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 Precam brian now has a detailed proposal for chronostratigraphic subdivision instead of an outdated and abstract chronometric one.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.


geologic time scaleprecambrianstratotypestandard chronostratigraphy