Saturday, August 29, 2015

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This clock representation shows some of the major units of geological time and definitive events of Earth history. The Hadean eon represents the time before fossil record of life on Earth; its upper boundary is now regarded as 4.0 Ga (billion years ago).[1] Other subdivisions reflect the evolution of life; the Archean and Proterozoic are both eons, the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic are eras of the Phanerozoic eon. The two million year Quaternary period, the time of recognizable humans, is too small to be visible at this scale.

Geologic time scale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The geological time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological measurement that relates stratigraphy to time, and is used by geologistspaleontologists, and other Earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred throughout Earth’s history. The table of geologic time spans presented here agrees with thenomenclature, dates and standard color codes set forth by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
Evidence from radiometric dating indicates that Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. The geology ordeep time of Earth’s past has been organized into various units according to events which took place in each period. Different spans of time on the GTS are usually delimited by changes in the composition of strata which correspond to them, indicating major geological or paleontological events, such as mass extinctions. For example, the boundary between the Cretaceous period and the Paleogene period is defined by the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, which marked the demise of the non-aviandinosaurs and many other groups of life. Older time spans which predate the reliable fossil record (before the Proterozoic Eon) are defined by the absolute age.


Units in geochronology and stratigraphy[2]
Segments of rock (strata) inchronostratigraphyTime spans ingeochronologyNotes to
geochronological units
EonothemEon4 total, half a billion years or more
ErathemEra10 defined, several hundred million years
SystemPeriod22 defined, tens to ~one hundred million years
SeriesEpochtens of millions of years
StageAgemillions of years
ChronozoneChronsubdivision of an age, not used by the ICS timescale
The largest defined unit of time is the supereon, composed of eons. Eons are divided into eras, which are in turn divided into periodsepochs and ages. The terms eonothemerathemsystemseries, and stageare used to refer to the layers of rock that correspond to these periods of geologic time in Earth's history.
Geologists qualify these units as Early, Mid, and Late when referring to time, and Lower, Middle, and Upper when referring to the corresponding rocks. For example, the Lower Jurassic Series in chronostratigraphycorresponds to the Early Jurassic Epoch ingeochronology.[3] The adjectives are capitalized when the subdivision is formally recognized, and lower case when not; thus "early Miocene" but "Early Jurassic."
Geologic units from the same time but different parts of the world often look different and contain different fossils, so the same period was historically given different names in different locales. For example, in North America the Lower Cambrian is called the Waucoban series that is then subdivided into zones based on succession of trilobites. In East Asia and Siberia, the same unit is split intoAlexianAtdabanian, and Botomian stages. A key aspect of the work of the International Commission on Stratigraphy is to reconcile this conflicting terminology and define universal horizons that can be used around the world.[4]

History and nomenclature of the time scale[edit]

Graphical representation of Earth’s history as a spiral

A comparative geological timescale
In Ancient GreeceAristotle saw that fossils of seashells from rocks were similar to those found on the beach and inferred that the fossils were once part of living animals. He reasoned that the positions of land and sea had changed over long periods of time. Leonardo da Vinci concurred with Aristotle’s view that fossils were the remains of ancient life.[5]
The 11th-century Persian geologist Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and the 13th centuryDominican bishop Albertus Magnus (Albert of Saxony) extended Aristotle's explanation into a theory of a petrifying fluid.[6] Avicenna also first proposed one of the principles underlying geologic time scales, the law of superposition of strata, while discussing the origins of mountains in The Book of Healing in 1027.[7][8] The Chinese naturalist Shen Kuo (1031–1095) also recognized the concept of ‘deep time’.[9]
The principles underlying geologic (geological) time scales were later laid down by Nicholas Steno in the late 17th century. Steno argued that rock layers (or strata) are laid down in succession, and that each represents a "slice" of time. He also formulated the law of superposition, which states that any given stratum is probably older than those above it and younger than those below it. While Steno’s principles were simple, applying them to real rocks proved complex. Over the course of the 18th century geologists realized that:
  1. Sequences of strata were often eroded, distorted, tilted, or even inverted after deposition;
  2. Strata laid down at the same time in different areas could have entirely different appearances;
  3. The strata of any given area represented only part of Earth’s long history.
The first serious attempts to formulate a geological time scale that could be applied anywhere on Earth were made in the late 18th century. The most influential of those early attempts (championed by Abraham Werner, among others) divided the rocks of Earth’s crust into four types: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary. Each type of rock, according to the theory, formed during a specific period in Earth history. It was thus possible to speak of a "Tertiary Period" as well as of "Tertiary Rocks." Indeed, "Tertiary" (now Paleogene and Neogene) and "Quaternary" (now Pleistocene and Holocene) remained in use as names of geological periods well into the 20th century.
The Neptunist theories popular at this time (expounded by Werner) proposed that all rocks had precipitated out of a single enormous flood. A major shift in thinking came when James Hutton presented his Theory of the Earth; or, an Investigation of the Laws Observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land Upon the Globe before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in March and April 1785. It has been said that "as things appear from the perspective of the 20th century, James Hutton in those readings became the founder of modern geology".[10] Hutton proposed that the interior of Earth was hot, and that this heat was the engine which drove the creation of new rock: land was eroded by air and water and deposited as layers in the sea; heat then consolidated the sediment into stone, and uplifted it into new lands. This theory was called "Plutonist" in contrast to the "Neptunist" flood-oriented theory.
The identification of strata by the fossils they contained, pioneered by William SmithGeorges CuvierJean d'Omalius d'Halloy, and Alexandre Brogniart in the early 19th century, enabled geologists to divide Earth history more precisely. It also enabled them to correlate strata across national (or even continental) boundaries. If two strata (however distant in space or different in composition) contained the same fossils, chances were good that they had been laid down at the same time. Detailed studies between 1820 and 1850 of the strata and fossils of Europe produced the sequence of geological periods still used today.
The process was dominated by British geologists, and the names of the periods reflect that dominance. The "Cambrian", (the classical name for Wales) and the "Ordovician", and "Silurian", named after ancient Welsh tribes, were periods defined using stratigraphic sequences from Wales.[11] The "Devonian" was named for the English county of Devon, and the name "Carboniferous" was simply an adaptation of "the Coal Measures", the old British geologists’ term for the same set of strata. The "Permian" was named after Perm, Russia, because it was defined using strata in that region by Scottish geologist Roderick Murchison. However, some periods were defined by geologists from other countries. The "Triassic" was named in 1834 by a German geologist Friedrich Von Alberti from the three distinct layers (Latin triasmeaning triad) —red beds, capped by chalk, followed by black shales — that are found throughout Germany and Northwest Europe, called the ‘Trias’. The "Jurassic" was named by a French geologist Alexandre Brogniart for the extensive marine limestone exposures of the Jura Mountains. The "Cretaceous" (from Latin creta meaning ‘chalk’) as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d’Omalius d’Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris basin[12]and named for the extensive beds of chalk (calcium carbonate deposited by the shells of marine invertebrates).
British geologists were also responsible for the grouping of periods into Eras and the subdivision of the Tertiary and Quaternary periods into epochs. In 1841 John Phillips published the first global geological time scale based on the types of fossils found in each era. Phillips’ scale helped standardize the use of terms like Paleozoic ("old life") which he extended to cover a larger period than it had in previous usage, and Mesozoic ("middle life") which he invented.[13]
When William Smith and Sir Charles Lyell first recognized that rock strata represented successive time periods, time scales could be estimated only very imprecisely since various kinds of rates of change used in estimation were highly variable. While creationists had been proposing dates of around six or seven thousand years for the age of Earth based on the Bible, early geologists were suggesting millions of years for geologic periods with some even suggesting a virtually infinite age for Earth. Geologists and paleontologists constructed the geologic table based on the relative positions of different strata and fossils, and estimated the time scales based on studying rates of various kinds ofweatheringerosionsedimentation, and lithification. Until the discovery of radioactivity in 1896 and the development of its geological applications through radiometric dating during the first half of the 20th century (pioneered by such geologists as Arthur Holmes) which allowed for more precise absolute dating of rocks, the ages of various rock strata and the age of Earth were the subject of considerable debate.
The first geologic time scale that included absolute dates was published in 1913 by the British geologist Arthur Holmes.[14] He greatly furthered the newly created discipline of geochronology and published the world-renowned bookThe Age of the Earth in which he estimated Earth’s age to be at least 1.6 billion years.[15]
In 1977, the Global Commission on Stratigraphy (now the International Commission on Stratigraphy) started an effort to define global references known as GSSP (Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points)for geologic periods and faunal stages. The commission's most recent work is described in the 2004 geologic time scale of Gradstein et al.[16] AUML model for how the timescale is structured, relating it to the GSSP, is also available.[17]

Condensed graphical timelines[edit]

The following four timelines show the geologic time scale. The first shows the entire time from the formation of the Earth to the present, but this compresses the most recent eon. Therefore, the second scale shows the most recent eon with an expanded scale. The second scale compresses the most recent era, so the most recent era is expanded in the third scale. Since the Quaternary is a very short period with short epochs, it is further expanded in the fourth scale. The second, third, and fourth timelines are therefore each subsections of their preceding timeline as indicated by asterisks. The Holocene (the latest epoch) is too small to be shown clearly on the third timeline on the right, another reason for expanding the fourth scale. The Pleistocene (P) epoch. Q stands for the Quaternary period.
GelasianCalabrian (stage)PleistocenePleistocenePleistoceneHoloceneQuaternary
Millions of Years

Table of geologic time[edit]

The following table summarizes the major events and characteristics of the periods of time making up the geologic time scale. As above, this time scale is based on the International Commission on Stratigraphy. (See lunar geologic timescalefor a discussion of the geologic subdivisions of Earth's moon.) This table is arranged with the most recent geologic periods at the top, and the most ancient at the bottom. The height of each table entry does not correspond to the duration of each subdivision of time.
The content of the table is based on the current official geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy,[1] with the epoch names altered to the early/late format from lower/upper as recommended by the ICS when dealing with chronostratigraphy.[3]
A service providing a Resource Description Framework/Web Ontology Language representation of the timescale is available through the Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information GeoSciML project as a service[18] and at a SPARQL end-point.[19][20]

[hide]SupereonEonEraPeriod[21]EpochAge[22]Major eventsStart, million years ago[22]
n/a[23]PhanerozoicCenozoic[24]QuaternaryHolocene Quaternary Ice Age recedes, and the currentinterglacial begins; rise of humancivilizationSaharaforms from savannah, andagriculture begins.Stone Age cultures give way to Bronze Age (3300 BC) andIron Age (1200 BC), giving rise tomany pre-historic cultures throughout the world. Little Ice Age (stadial) causes brief cooling in Northern Hemisphere from 1400 to 1850. Following theIndustrial Revolution,atmospheric CO2levels rise from around 280 parts per million volume (ppmv) to the current level of 400[25]ppmv.[26][27]0.0117[28]
PleistoceneLate (locallyTarantian ·Tyrrhenian ·Eemian ·Sangamonian)Flourishing and then extinction of many largemammals(Pleistocene megafauna). Evolution of anatomically modern humans.Quaternary Ice Age continues withglaciations andinterstadials (and the accompanying fluctuations from 100 to 300 ppmv inatmospheric CO2levels[26][27]), further intensification ofIcehouse Earthconditions, roughly 1.6 MaLast glacial maximum(30000 years ago),last glacial period(18000–15000 years ago). Dawn of human stone-age cultures, withincreasing technical complexity relative to previous ice age cultures, such asengravings and clay statues (e.g.Venus of Lespugue), particularly in theMediterranean and Europe. Lake Tobasupervolcanoerupts 75000 years before present, causing a volcanic winter that pushes humanity to the brink of extinction. Pleistocene ends with Oldest Dryas,Older Dryas/Allerød andYounger Dryasclimate events, with Younger Dryas forming the boundary with the Holocene.0.126
Middle (formerly Ionian)0.781
NeogenePliocenePiacenzian/BlancanIntensification of present Icehouse conditionspresent (Quaternary) ice age begins roughly 2.58 Ma; cool and dry climate.Australopithecines, many of the existing genera of mammals, and recent mollusksappear. Homo habilis appears.3.6*
MioceneMessinianModerate Icehouse climate, punctuated by ice agesOrogeny inNorthern Hemisphere. Modern mammaland bird families become recognizable.Horses andmastodonsdiverse. Grassesbecome ubiquitous. Firstapes appear (for reference see the article: "Sahelanthropus tchadensis").Kaikoura Orogenyforms Southern Alps in New Zealand, continues today. Orogeny of the Alps in Europe slows, but continues to this day. Carpathian orogeny formsCarpathian Mountains inCentral andEastern Europe.Hellenic orogeny in Greece and Aegean Sea slows, but continues to this day. Middle Miocene Disruptionoccurs. Widespread forests slowlydraw in massive amounts of CO2, gradually lowering the level of atmospheric CO2from 650 ppmv down to around 100 ppmv.[26][27]7.246*
PaleogeneOligoceneChattianWarm but cooling climate, moving towards Icehouse; Rapid evolutionand diversification of fauna, especiallymammals. Major evolution and dispersal of modern types offlowering plants28.1
EocenePriabonianModerate, cooling climate. Archaicmammals (e.g.Creodonts,Condylarths,Uintatheres, etc.) flourish and continue to develop during the epoch. Appearance of several "modern" mammal families. Primitivewhales diversify. First grasses. Reglaciation of Antarctica and formation of its ice capAzolla eventtriggers ice age, and the Icehouse Earth climate that would follow it to this day, from the settlement and decay of seaflooralgae drawing in massive amounts of atmosphericcarbon dioxide,[26][27]lowering it from 3800 ppmv down to 650 ppmv. End of Laramide andSevier Orogeniesof the Rocky Mountains in North America. Orogenyof the Alps in Europe begins.Hellenic Orogenybegins in Greece and Aegean Sea.37.8
PaleoceneThanetianClimate tropical. Modern plantsappear; Mammalsdiversify into a number of primitive lineages following the extinction of the dinosaurs. First large mammals (up to bear or smallhippo size). Alpine orogeny in Europe and Asia begins.Indian Subcontinentcollides with Asia 55 MaHimalayan Orogeny starts between 52 and 48Ma.59.2*
MesozoicCretaceousLateMaastrichtianFlowering plantsproliferate, along with new types ofinsects. More modern teleost fish begin to appear.Ammonoidea,belemnitesrudistbivalvesechinoidsand sponges all common. Many new types ofdinosaurs (e.g.Tyrannosaurs,Titanosaursduck bills, and horned dinosaurs) evolve on land, as doEusuchia (modern crocodilians); andmosasaurs and modern sharksappear in the sea. Primitive birdsgradually replacepterosaurs.Monotremes,marsupials andplacentalmammals appear. Break up ofGondwana. Beginning ofLaramide andSevier Orogeniesof the Rocky Mountains.atmospheric CO2close to present-day levels.72.1 ± 0.2*
Campanian83.6 ± 0.2
Santonian86.3 ± 0.5*
Coniacian89.8 ± 0.3
JurassicLateTithonianGymnosperms(especiallyconifers,Bennettitales andcycads) and fernscommon. Many types of dinosaurs, such assauropods,carnosaurs, andstegosaurs. Mammals common but small. Firstbirds and lizards.Ichthyosaurs andplesiosaursdiverse. Bivalves,Ammonites andbelemnitesabundant. Sea urchins very common, along with crinoids, starfish, sponges, and terebratulidand rhynchonellidbrachiopods. Breakup ofPangaea intoGondwana andLaurasiaNevadan orogeny in North America. Rantigataand Cimmerian Orogenies taper off. Atmospheric CO2 levels 4–5 times the present day levels (1200–1500 ppmv, compared to today's 385 ppmv[26][27]).152.1 ± 0.9
Kimmeridgian157.3 ± 1.0
Oxfordian163.5 ± 1.0
MiddleCallovian166.1 ± 1.2
Bathonian168.3 ± 1.3*
Bajocian170.3 ± 1.4*
Aalenian174.1 ± 1.0*
EarlyToarcian182.7 ± 0.7*
Pliensbachian190.8 ± 1.0*
Sinemurian199.3 ± 0.3*
Hettangian201.3 ± 0.2*
TriassicLateRhaetianArchosaursdominant on land as dinosaurs, in the oceans asIchthyosaurs andnothosaurs, and in the air aspterosaurs.Cynodontsbecome smaller and more mammal-like, while firstmammals andcrocodilia appear.Dicroidiumflora common on land. Many large aquatictemnospondylamphibians.Ceratitic ammonoidsextremely common. Modern corals and teleostfish appear, as do many moderninsect clades.Andean Orogeny in South America.Cimmerian Orogeny in Asia.Rangitata Orogenybegins in New Zealand. Hunter-Bowen Orogeny inNorthern Australia, Queensland andNew South Walesends, (c. 260–225Ma)~208.5
Induan252.17 ± 0.06*
PaleozoicPermianLopingianChanghsingianLandmasses unite into supercontinentPangaea, creating the Appalachians. End of Permo-Carboniferous glaciation.Synapsid reptiles(pelycosaurs andtherapsids) become plentiful, while parareptilesand temnospondylamphibians remain common. In the mid-Permian, coal-age flora are replaced by cone-bearinggymnosperms (the first true seed plants) and by the first true mosses.Beetles and fliesevolve. Marine life flourishes in warm shallow reefs;productid andspiriferidbrachiopods, bivalves, forams, and ammonoids all abundant.Permian-Triassic extinction eventoccurs 251 Ma: 95% of life on Earth becomes extinct, including all trilobites,graptolites, andblastoidsOuachitaand Innuitian orogenies in North America. Uralian orogeny in Europe/Asia tapers off. Altaid orogeny in Asia. Hunter-Bowen Orogeny onAustralian continent begins (c. 260–225 Ma), forming theMacDonnell Ranges.254.14 ± 0.07*
Wuchiapingian259.8 ± 0.4*
GuadalupianCapitanian265.1 ± 0.4*
Wordian/Kazanian268.8 ± 0.5*
Roadian/Ufimian272.3 ± 0.5*
CisuralianKungurian283.5 ± 0.6
Artinskian290.1 ± 0.26
Sakmarian295 ± 0.18
Asselian298.9 ± 0.15*
PennsylvanianGzhelianWinged insectsradiate suddenly; some (esp.Protodonata andPalaeodictyoptera) are quite large.Amphibianscommon and diverse. Firstreptiles and coalforests (scale trees, ferns, club treesgiant horsetails,Cordaites, etc.). Highest-everatmosphericoxygen levels.Goniatites, brachiopods, bryozoa, bivalves, and corals plentiful in the seas and oceans. Testateforams proliferate.Uralian orogeny in Europe and Asia.Variscan orogenyoccurs towards middle and late Mississippian Periods.303.7 ± 0.1
Kasimovian307 ± 0.1
Moscovian315.2 ± 0.2
Bashkirian323.2 ± 0.4*
MississippianSerpukhovianLarge primitive trees, first land vertebrates, and amphibious sea-scorpions live amidcoal-forming coastal swamps. Lobe-finnedrhizodonts are dominant big fresh-water predators. In the oceans, earlysharks are common and quite diverse;echinoderms(especially crinoidsand blastoids) abundant. Corals,bryozoagoniatitesand brachiopods (Productida,Spiriferida, etc.) very common, buttrilobites andnautiloids decline.Glaciation in EastGondwanaTuhua Orogeny in New Zealand tapers off.330.9 ± 0.2
Viséan346.7 ± 0.4*
Tournaisian358.9 ± 0.4*
DevonianLateFamennianFirst clubmosses,horsetails andferns appear, as do the first seed-bearing plants (progymnosperms), first trees (the progymnospermArchaeopteris), and first (wingless)insects.Strophomenid andatrypidbrachiopods,rugose andtabulate corals, and crinoids are all abundant in the oceans. Goniatiteammonoids are plentiful, while squid-like coleoidsarise. Trilobites and armoured agnaths decline, while jawed fishes (placodermslobe-finned and ray-finned fish, and early sharks) rule the seas. Firstamphibians still aquatic. "Old Red Continent" ofEuramerica. Beginning ofAcadian Orogenyfor Anti-Atlas Mountains of North Africa, andAppalachian Mountains of North America, also theAntlerVariscan, and Tuhua Orogeny in New Zealand.372.2 ± 1.6*
Frasnian382.7 ± 1.6*
MiddleGivetian387.7 ± 0.8*
Eifelian393.3 ± 1.2*
EarlyEmsian407.6 ± 2.6*
Pragian410.8 ± 2.8*
Lochkovian419.2 ± 3.2*
SilurianPridoliFirst Vascular plants (therhyniophytes and their relatives), firstmillipedes andarthropleurids on land. First jawed fishes, as well as many armouredjawless fish, populate the seas.Sea-scorpionsreach large size.Tabulate andrugose corals,brachiopods(Pentamerida,Rhynchonellida, etc.), and crinoidsall abundant.Trilobites andmollusks diverse;graptolites not as varied. Beginning of Caledonian Orogeny for hills in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and theScandinavian Mountains. Also continued into Devonian period as the Acadian Orogeny, above.Taconic Orogenytapers off. Lachlan Orogeny onAustralian continent tapers off.423 ± 2.3*
Ludlow/CayuganLudfordian425.6 ± 0.9*
Gorstian427.4 ± 0.5*
430.5 ± 0.7*
433.4 ± 0.8*
438.5 ± 1.1*
Aeronian440.8 ± 1.2*
Rhuddanian443.8 ± 1.5*
OrdovicianLateHirnantianInvertebratesdiversify into many new types (e.g., long straight-shelledcephalopods). Early corals, articulatebrachiopods(Orthida,Strophomenida, etc.), bivalves,nautiloids,trilobites,ostracods,bryozoa, many types ofechinoderms(crinoidscystoids,starfish, etc.), branchedgraptolites, and other taxa all common.Conodonts (earlyplanktonicvertebrates) appear. First green plants and fungi on land. Ice age at end of period.445.2 ± 1.4*
Katian453 ± 0.7*
Sandbian458.4 ± 0.9*
MiddleDarriwilian467.3 ± 1.1*
Dapingian470 ± 1.4*
(formerly Arenig)
477.7 ± 1.4*
Tremadocian485.4 ± 1.9*
CambrianFurongianStage 10Major diversification of life in theCambrian Explosion. Numerous fossils; most modernanimal phylaappear. Firstchordates appear, along with a number of extinct, problematic phyla. Reef-buildingArchaeocyathaabundant; then vanish. Trilobites,priapulid worms,sponges, inarticulatebrachiopods(unhinged lampshells), and many other animals numerous.Anomalocarids are giant predators, while many Ediacaran fauna die out.Prokaryotes,protists (e.g.,forams), fungi andalgae continue to present day.Gondwanaemerges.Petermann Orogeny on theAustralian continent tapers off (550–535 Ma). Ross Orogeny in Antarctica.Adelaide Geosyncline (Delamerian Orogeny), majority of orogenic activity from 514–500 Ma.Lachlan Orogenyon Australian continent, c. 540–440 Ma.Atmospheric CO2content roughly 20–35 times present-day (Holocene) levels (6000 ppmv compared to today's 385 ppmv)[26][27]~489.5
Series 3Guzhangian~500.5*
Stage 5~509
Series 2Stage 4~514
Stage 3~521
TerreneuvianStage 2~529
Fortunian541 ± 1.0*
Precambrian[30]Proterozoic[31]Neoproterozoic[31]EdiacaranGood fossils of the first multi-celled animalsEdiacaran biota flourish worldwide in seas. Simple trace fossils of possible worm-like Trichophycus, etc. First sponges andtrilobitomorphs. Enigmatic forms include many soft-jellied creatures shaped like bags, disks, or quilts (likeDickinsonia). Taconic Orogeny in North America.Aravalli Range orogeny in Indian Subcontinent. Beginning of Petermann Orogeny on Australian continent. Beardmore Orogeny in Antarctica, 633–620 Ma.~635*
CryogenianPossible "Snowball Earth" period. Fossils still rare. Rodinialandmass begins to break up. Late Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica tapers of720[32]
TonianRodinia supercontinent persists. Trace fossils of simplemulti-celled eukaryotes. First radiation of dinoflagellate-likeacritarchsGrenville Orogeny tapers off in North America.Pan-African orogeny in Africa. Lake Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica, 1000 ± 150 Ma. Edmundian Orogeny (c. 920 – 850 Ma), Gascoyne Complex, Western Australia.Adelaide Geosyncline laid down on Australian continent, beginning of Adelaide Geosyncline (Delamerian Orogeny) in that continent.1000[32]
Mesoproterozoic[31]StenianNarrow highly metamorphic belts due to orogeny asRodinia forms. Late Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica possibly begins. Musgrave Orogeny (c. 1080 Ma),Musgrave BlockCentral Australia.1200[32]
EctasianPlatform covers continue to expand. Green algae coloniesin the seas. Grenville Orogeny in North America.1400[32]
CalymmianPlatform covers expand. Barramundi Orogeny, McArthur BasinNorthern Australia, and Isan Orogeny, c.1600 Ma, Mount Isa Block, Queensland1600[32]
Paleoproterozoic[31]StatherianFirst complex single-celled lifeprotists with nuclei.Columbia is the primordial supercontinent. Kimban Orogeny in Australian continent ends. Yapungku Orogeny on Yilgarn craton, in Western Australia. Mangaroon Orogeny, 1680–1620 Ma, on the Gascoyne Complex in Western Australia. Kararan Orogeny (1650– Ma), Gawler Craton, South Australia.1800[32]
OrosirianThe atmosphere becomes oxygenicVredefort and Sudbury Basin asteroid impacts. Much orogenyPenokean andTrans-Hudsonian Orogenies in North America. Early Ruker Orogeny in Antarctica, 2000–1700 Ma. Glenburgh Orogeny,Glenburgh TerraneAustralian continent c. 2005–1920 Ma. Kimban Orogeny, Gawler craton in Australian continent begins.2050[32]
RhyacianBushveld Igneous Complex forms. Huronian glaciation.2300[32]
SiderianOxygen catastrophebanded iron formations forms. Sleaford Orogeny on Australian continentGawler Craton2440–2420 Ma.2500[32]
Archean[31]Neoarchean[31]Stabilization of most modern cratons; possible mantle overturn event. Insell Orogeny, 2650 ± 150 MaAbitibi greenstone belt in present-dayOntario and Quebec begins to form, stabilizes by 2600 Ma.2800[32]
Mesoarchean[31]First stromatolites (probably colonial cyanobacteria). Oldestmacrofossils. Humboldt Orogeny in Antarctica. Blake River Megacaldera Complex begins to form in present-day Ontario and Quebec, ends by roughly 2696 Ma.3200[32]
Paleoarchean[31]First known oxygen-producing bacteria. Oldest definitive microfossils. Oldest cratons on Earth (such as the Canadian Shield and the Pilbara Craton) may have formed during this period.[33] Rayner Orogeny in Antarctica.3600[32]
Eoarchean[31]Simple single-celled life (probably bacteria and archaea). Oldest probablemicrofossils.4000
Hadean[31][34]Early Imbrian[31][35]Indirect photosynthetic evidence (e.g., kerogen) of primordial life. This era overlaps the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment of the Inner Solar System.~4100
Nectarian[31][35]This unit gets its name from the lunar geologic timescale when theNectaris Basin and other greater lunar basins form by big impact events.~4300
Basin Groups[31][35]Oldest known rock (4030 Ma).[36] The first life forms and self-replicatingRNA molecules evolve around 4000 Ma, after the Late Heavy Bombardment ends on Earth. Napier Orogeny in Antarctica, 4000 ± 200Ma.~4500
Cryptic[31][35]Oldest known mineral (Zircon, 4404 ± 8 Ma).[37] Formation of Moon(4533 Ma), probably from giant impact. Formation of Earth (4567.17 to 4570 Ma)~4567

Proposed Precambrian timeline[edit]

The ICS's Geologic Time Scale 2012 book which includes the new approved time scale also displays a proposal to substantially revise the Precambrian time scale to reflect important events such as the formation of the Earth or theGreat Oxidation Event, among others, while at the same time maintaining most of the previous chronostratigraphic nomenclature for the pertinent time span.[38]
Shown to scale:
Compare with the current official one:

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