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|Supereon||Eon||Era||Period||Epoch||Age||Major events||Start, million years ago|
|n/a||Phanerozoic||Cenozoic||Quaternary||Holocene||Quaternary Ice Age recedes, and the current interglacial begins; rise of human civilization. Sahara forms from savannah, and agriculture begins. Stone Age cultures give way to Bronze Age (3300 BC) and Iron Age (1200 BC), giving rise to many pre-historic cultures throughout the world. Little Ice Age (stadial) causes brief cooling in Northern Hemisphere from 1400 to 1850. Following the Industrial Revolution, Atmospheric CO2 levels rise from around 280 parts per million volume (ppmv) to the current level of 400 ppmv.||0.0117|
|Pleistocene||Late (locally Tarantian · Tyrrhenian · Eemian · Sangamonian)||Flourishing and then extinction of many large mammals (Pleistocene megafauna). Evolution of anatomically modern humans. Quaternary Ice Age continues with glaciations and interstadials (and the accompanying fluctuations from 100 to 300 ppmv in atmospheric CO2 levels), further intensification of Icehouse Earth conditions, roughly 1.6 Ma. Last glacial maximum (30000 years ago), last glacial period (18000–15000 years ago). Dawn of human stone-age cultures, with increasing technical complexity relative to previous ice age cultures, such as engravings and clay statues (e.g. Venus of Lespugue), particularly in the Mediterranean and Europe. Lake Toba supervolcano erupts 75000 years before present, causing a volcanic winter that pushes humanity to the brink of extinction. Pleistocene ends with Oldest Dryas, Older Dryas/Allerød and Younger Dryas climate events, with Younger Dryas forming the boundary with the Holocene.||0.126|
|Middle (formerly Ionian)||0.781|
|Neogene||Pliocene||Piacenzian/Blancan||Intensification of present Icehouse conditions, present (Quaternary) ice age begins roughly 2.58 Ma; cool and dry climate. Australopithecines, many of the existing genera of mammals, and recent mollusks appear. Homo habilis appears.||3.600*|
|Miocene||Messinian||Moderate Icehouse climate, punctuated by ice ages; Orogeny in northern hemisphere. Modern mammal and bird families become recognizable. Horses and mastodons diverse. Grasses become ubiquitous. First apes appear (for reference see the article: "Sahelanthropus tchadensis"). Kaikoura Orogeny forms Southern Alps in New Zealand, continues today. Orogeny of the Alps in Europe slows, but continues to this day. Carpathian orogeny forms Carpathian Mountains in Central and Eastern Europe. Hellenic orogeny in Greece and Aegean Sea slows, but continues to this day. Middle Miocene Disruption occurs. Widespread forests slowly draw in massive amounts of CO2, gradually lowering the level of atmospheric CO2 from 650 ppmv down to around 100 ppmv.||7.246*|
|Paleogene||Oligocene||Chattian||Warm but cooling climate, moving towards Icehouse; Rapid evolution and diversification of fauna, especially mammals. Major evolution and dispersal of modern types of flowering plants||28.1|
|Eocene||Priabonian||Moderate, cooling climate. Archaic mammals (e.g. Creodonts, Condylarths, Uintatheres, etc.) flourish and continue to develop during the epoch. Appearance of several "modern" mammal families. Primitive whales diversify. First grasses. Reglaciation of Antarctica and formation of its ice cap; Azolla event triggers ice age, and the Icehouse Earth climate that would follow it to this day, from the settlement and decay of seafloor algae drawing in massive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, lowering it from 3800 ppmv down to 650 ppmv. End of Laramide and Sevier Orogenies of the Rocky Mountains in North America. Orogeny of the Alps in Europe begins. Hellenic Orogeny begins in Greece and Aegean Sea.||38.0|
|Paleocene||Thanetian||Climate tropical. Modern plants appear; Mammals diversify into a number of primitive lineages following the extinction of the dinosaurs. First large mammals (up to bear or small hippo size). Alpine orogeny in Europe and Asia begins. Indian Subcontinent collides with Asia 55 Ma, Himalayan Orogeny starts between 52 and 48 Ma.||59.2*|
|Mesozoic||Cretaceous||Late||Maastrichtian||Flowering plants proliferate, along with new types of insects. More modern teleost fish begin to appear. Ammonoidea, belemnites, rudist bivalves, echinoids and sponges all common. Many new types of dinosaurs (e.g. Tyrannosaurs, Titanosaurs, duck bills, and horned dinosaurs) evolve on land, as do Eusuchia (modern crocodilians); and mosasaurs and modern sharks appear in the sea. Primitive birds gradually replace pterosaurs. Monotremes, marsupials and placental mammals appear. Break up of Gondwana. Beginning of Laramide and Sevier Orogenies of the Rocky Mountains. Atmospheric CO2 close to present-day levels.||72.1 ± 0.2*|
|Campanian||83.6 ± 0.2|
|Santonian||86.3 ± 0.5|
|Coniacian||89.8 ± 0.3|
|Jurassic||Late||Tithonian||Gymnosperms (especially conifers, Bennettitales and cycads) and ferns common. Many types of dinosaurs, such as sauropods, carnosaurs, and stegosaurs. Mammals common but small. First birds and lizards. Ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs diverse. Bivalves, Ammonites and belemnites abundant. Sea urchins very common, along with crinoids, starfish, sponges, and terebratulid and rhynchonellid brachiopods. Breakup of Pangaea into Gondwana and Laurasia. Nevadan orogeny in North America. Rantigata and Cimmerian Orogenies taper off. Atmospheric CO2 levels 4–5 times the present day levels (1200–1500 ppmv, compared to today's 385 ppmv).||152.1 ± 0.9|
|Kimmeridgian||157.3 ± 1.0|
|Oxfordian||163.5 ± 1.0|
|Middle||Callovian||166.1 ± 1.2|
|Bathonian||168.3 ± 1.3*|
|Bajocian||170.3 ± 1.4*|
|Aalenian||174.1 ± 1.0*|
|Early||Toarcian||182.7 ± 0.7|
|Pliensbachian||190.8 ± 1.0*|
|Sinemurian||199.3 ± 0.3*|
|Hettangian||201.3 ± 0.2*|
|Triassic||Late||Rhaetian||Archosaurs dominant on land as dinosaurs, in the oceans as Ichthyosaurs and nothosaurs, and in the air as pterosaurs. Cynodonts become smaller and more mammal-like, while first mammals and crocodilia appear. Dicroidiumflora common on land. Many large aquatic temnospondyl amphibians. Ceratitic ammonoids extremely common. Modern corals and teleost fish appear, as do many modern insect clades. Andean Orogeny in South America. Cimmerian Orogeny in Asia. Rangitata Orogeny begins in New Zealand. Hunter-Bowen Orogeny in Northern Australia, Queensland and New South Wales ends, (c. 260–225 Ma)||c. 208.5|
|Induan||252.2 ± 0.5*|
|Paleozoic||Permian||Lopingian||Changhsingian||Landmasses unite into supercontinent Pangaea, creating the Appalachians. End of Permo-Carboniferous glaciation. Synapsid reptiles (pelycosaurs and therapsids) become plentiful, while parareptiles and temnospondyl amphibians remain common. In the mid-Permian, coal-age flora are replaced by cone-bearing gymnosperms (the first true seed plants) and by the first true mosses. Beetles and flies evolve. Marine life flourishes in warm shallow reefs; productid and spiriferid brachiopods, bivalves, forams, and ammonoids all abundant. Permian-Triassic extinction event occurs 251Ma: 95% of life on Earth becomes extinct, including all trilobites, graptolites, and blastoids. Ouachita and Innuitian orogenies in North America. Uralian orogeny in Europe/Asia tapers off. Altaid orogeny in Asia. Hunter-Bowen Orogeny on Australian Continent begins (c. 260–225 Ma), forming the MacDonnell Ranges.||254.2 ± 0.1*|
|Wuchiapingian||259.9 ± 0.4*|
|Guadalupian||Capitanian||265.1 ± 0.4*|
|Wordian/Kazanian||268.8 ± 0.5*|
|Roadian/Ufimian||272.3 ± 0.5*|
|Cisuralian||Kungurian||279.3 ± 0.6|
|Artinskian||290.1 ± 0.1|
|Sakmarian||295.5 ± 0.4|
|Asselian||298.9 ± 0.2*|
|Pennsylvanian||Gzhelian||Winged insects radiate suddenly; some (esp. Protodonata and Palaeodictyoptera) are quite large. Amphibians common and diverse. First reptiles and coal forests (scale trees, ferns, club trees, giant horsetails, Cordaites, etc.). Highest-ever atmospheric oxygen levels. Goniatites, brachiopods, bryozoa, bivalves, and corals plentiful in the seas and oceans. Testate forams proliferate. Uralian orogeny in Europe and Asia. Variscan orogeny occurs towards middle and late Mississippian Periods.||303.7 ± 0.1|
|Kasimovian||307.0 ± 0.1|
|Moscovian||315.2 ± 0.2|
|Bashkirian||323.2 ± 0.4*|
|Mississippian||Serpukhovian||Large primitive trees, first land vertebrates, and amphibious sea-scorpions live amid coal-forming coastal swamps. Lobe-finned rhizodonts are dominant big fresh-water predators. In the oceans, early sharks are common and quite diverse; echinoderms (especially crinoids and blastoids) abundant. Corals, bryozoa, goniatites and brachiopods (Productida, Spiriferida, etc.) very common, but trilobites and nautiloids decline. Glaciation in East Gondwana. Tuhua Orogeny in New Zealand tapers off.||330.9 ± 0.2|
|Viséan||346.7 ± 0.4*|
|Tournaisian||358.9 ± 0.4*|
|Devonian||Late||Famennian||First clubmosses, horsetails and ferns appear, as do the first seed-bearing plants (progymnosperms), first trees (the progymnosperm Archaeopteris), and first (wingless) insects. Strophomenid and atrypid brachiopods, rugose and tabulate corals, and crinoids are all abundant in the oceans. Goniatite ammonoids are plentiful, while squid-like coleoids arise. Trilobites and armoured agnaths decline, while jawed fishes (placoderms, lobe-finned and ray-finned fish, and early sharks) rule the seas. First amphibians still aquatic. "Old Red Continent" of Euramerica. Beginning of Acadian Orogeny for Anti-Atlas Mountains of North Africa, and Appalachian Mountains of North America, also the Antler, Variscan, and Tuhua Orogeny in New Zealand.||372.2 ± 1.6*|
|Frasnian||382.7 ± 1.6*|
|Middle||Givetian||387.7 ± 0.8*|
|Eifelian||393.3 ± 1.2*|
|Early||Emsian||407.6 ± 2.6*|
|Pragian||410.8 ± 2.8*|
|Lochkovian||419.2 ± 3.2*|
|Silurian||Pridoli||First Vascular plants (the rhyniophytes and their relatives), first millipedes and arthropleurids on land. First jawed fishes, as well as many armoured jawless fish, populate the seas. Sea-scorpions reach large size. Tabulate and rugose corals, brachiopods (Pentamerida, Rhynchonellida, etc.), and crinoids all abundant. Trilobites and mollusks diverse; graptolites not as varied. Beginning of Caledonian Orogeny for hills in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Scandinavian Mountains. Also continued into Devonian period as the Acadian Orogeny, above. Taconic Orogeny tapers off. Lachlan Orogeny on Australian Continent tapers off.||423.0 ± 2.3*|
|Ludlow/Cayugan||Ludfordian||425.6 ± 0.9*|
|Gorstian||427.4 ± 0.5*|
|Wenlock||Homerian/Lockportian||430.5 ± 0.7*|
|Sheinwoodian/Tonawandan||433.4 ± 0.8*|
|Telychian/Ontarian||438.5 ± 1.1*|
|Aeronian||440.8 ± 1.2*|
|Rhuddanian||443.4 ± 1.5*|
|Ordovician||Late||Hirnantian||Invertebrates diversify into many new types (e.g., long straight-shelled cephalopods). Early corals, articulate brachiopods (Orthida, Strophomenida, etc.), bivalves, nautiloids, trilobites, ostracods, bryozoa, many types of echinoderms (crinoids, cystoids, starfish, etc.), branched graptolites, and other taxa all common. Conodonts (early planktonic vertebrates) appear. First green plants and fungi on land. Ice age at end of period.||445.2 ± 1.4*|
|Katian||453.0 ± 0.7*|
|Sandbian||458.4 ± 0.9*|
|Middle||Darriwilian||467.3 ± 1.1*|
|Dapingian||470.0 ± 1.4*|
|477.7 ± 1.4*|
|Tremadocian||485.4 ± 1.9*|
|Cambrian||Furongian||Stage 10||Major diversification of life in the Cambrian Explosion. Numerous fossils; most modern animal phyla appear. First chordates appear, along with a number of extinct, problematic phyla. Reef-building Archaeocyatha abundant; then vanish. Trilobites, priapulid worms, sponges, inarticulate brachiopods (unhinged lampshells), and many other animals numerous. Anomalocarids are giant predators, while many Ediacaran fauna die out. Prokaryotes, protists (e.g., forams), fungi and algae continue to present day. Gondwana emerges. Petermann Orogeny on the Australian Continent tapers off (550–535 Ma). Ross Orogeny in Antarctica. Adelaide Geosyncline (Delamerian Orogeny), majority of orogenic activity from 514–500Ma. Lachlan Orogeny on Australian Continent, c. 540–440Ma. Atmospheric CO2 content roughly 20–35 times present-day (Holocene) levels (6000 ppmv compared to today's 385 ppmv)||c. 489.5|
|Series 3||Guzhangian||c. 500.5*|
|Stage 5||c. 509|
|Series 2||Stage 4||c. 514|
|Stage 3||c. 521|
|Terreneuvian||Stage 2||c. 529|
|Fortunian||541.0 ± 1.0*|
|Ediacaran||Good fossils of the first multi-celled animals. Ediacaran biota flourish worldwide in seas. Simple trace fossils of possible worm-like Trichophycus, etc. First sponges and trilobitomorphs. 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, 633–620Ma.||c. 635*|
|Cryogenian||Possible "Snowball Earth" period. Fossils still rare. Rodinia landmass begins to break up. Late Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica tapers off.||850|
|Tonian||Rodinia supercontinent persists. Trace fossils of simple multi-celled eukaryotes. First radiation of dinoflagellate-like acritarchs. Grenville Orogeny tapers off in North America. Pan-African orogeny in Africa. Lake Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica, 1000 ± 150 Ma. Edmundian Orogeny (c. 920 - 850Ma), Gascoyne Complex, Western Australia. Adelaide Geosyncline laid down on Australian Continent, beginning of Adelaide Geosyncline (Delamerian Orogeny) in that continent.||1000|
|Stenian||Narrow highly metamorphic belts due to orogeny as Rodinia forms. Late Ruker / Nimrod Orogeny in Antarctica possibly begins. Musgrave Orogeny (c. 1080 Ma), Musgrave Block, Central Australia.||1200|
|Ectasian||Platform covers continue to expand. Green algae colonies in the seas. Grenville Orogeny in North America.||1400|
|Calymmian||Platform covers expand. Barramundi Orogeny, McArthur Basin, Northern Australia, and Isan Orogeny, c.1600 Ma, Mount Isa Block, Queensland||1600|
|Statherian||First complex single-celled life: protists 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|
|Orosirian||The atmosphere becomes oxygenic. Vredefort and Sudbury Basin asteroid impacts. Much orogeny. Penokean and Trans-Hudsonian Orogenies in North America. Early Ruker Orogeny in Antarctica, 2000 - 1700 Ma. Glenburgh Orogeny, Glenburgh Terrane, Australian Continent c. 2005–1920 Ma. Kimban Orogeny, Gawler craton in Australian Continent begins.||2050|
|Rhyacian||Bushveld Igneous Complex forms. Huronian glaciation.||2300|
|Siderian||Oxygen catastrophe: banded iron formations forms. Sleaford Orogeny on Australian Continent, Gawler Craton 2440–2420 Ma.||2500|
|Archean||Neoarchean||Stabilization of most modern cratons; possible mantle overturn event. Insell Orogeny, 2650 ± 150 Ma. Abitibi greenstone belt in present-day Ontario and Quebec begins to form, stabilizes by 2600 Ma.||2800|
|Mesoarchean||First stromatolites (probably colonial cyanobacteria). Oldest macrofossils. Humboldt Orogeny in Antarctica. Blake River Megacaldera Complex begins to form in present-day Ontario and Quebec, ends by roughly 2696Ma.||3200|
|Paleoarchean||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. Rayner Orogeny in Antarctica.||3600|
|Eoarchean||Simple single-celled life (probably bacteria and archaea). Oldest probable microfossils.||4000|
|Early Imbrian||Indirect photosynthetic evidence (e.g., kerogen) of primordial life. This era overlaps the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment of the inner solar system.||c.4100|
|Nectarian||This unit gets its name from the lunar geologic timescale when the Nectaris Basin and other greater lunar basins form by big impact events.||c.4300|
|Basin Groups||Oldest known rock (4030 Ma). The first life forms and self-replicating RNA molecules evolve around 4000 Ma, after the Late Heavy Bombardment ends on Earth. Napier Orogeny in Antarctica, 4000 ± 200 Ma.||c.4500|
|Cryptic||Oldest known mineral (Zircon, 4404 ± 8 Ma). Formation of Moon(4533 Ma), probably from giant impact. Formation of Earth (4567.17 to 4570Ma)||c.4567|
- Paleontologists often refer to faunal stages rather than geologic (geological) periods. The stage nomenclature is quite complex. For an excellent time-ordered list of faunal stages, see "The Paleobiology Database". Retrieved 2006-03-19.
- Dates are slightly uncertain with differences of a few percent between various sources being common. This is largely due to uncertainties in radiometric dating and the problem that deposits suitable for radiometric dating seldom occur exactly at the places in the geologic column where they would be most useful. The dates and errors quoted above are according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy 2012 time scale. Where errors are not quoted, errors are less than the precision of the age given. Dates labeled with a * indicate boundaries where a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point has been internationally agreed upon: see List of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points for a complete list.
- References to the "Post-Cambrian Supereon" are not universally accepted, and therefore must be considered unofficial.
- Historically, the Cenozoic has been divided up into the Quaternary and Tertiary sub-eras, as well as the Neogene and Paleogene periods. The 2009 version of the ICS time chart recognizes a slightly extended Quaternary as well as the Paleogene and a truncated Neogene, the Tertiary having been demoted to informal status.
- "NASA Scientists React to 400 ppm Carbon Milestone". Accessed 1/15/2014 
- Royer, Dana L. (2006). "CO2-forced climate thresholds during the Phanerozoic" (PDF). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70 (23): 5665–75. Bibcode:2006GeCoA..70.5665R. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2005.11.031.
- For more information on this, see Atmosphere of Earth#Evolution of Earth's atmosphere, Carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, and climate change. Specific graphs of reconstructed CO2 levels over the past ~550, 65, and 5 million years can be seen at Image:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png, Image:65 Myr Climate Change.png, Image:Five Myr Climate Change.png, respectively.
- The start time for the Holocene epoch is here given as 11,700 years ago. For further discussion of the dating of this epoch, see Holocene.
- In North America, the Carboniferous is subdivided into Mississippian and Pennsylvanian Periods.
- The Precambrian is also known as Cryptozoic.
- The Proterozoic, Archean and Hadean are often collectively referred to as the Precambrian Time or sometimes, also the Cryptozoic.
- Defined by absolute age (Global Standard Stratigraphic Age).
- The age of the oldest measurable craton, or continental crust, is dated to 3600–3800 Ma
- Though commonly used, the Hadean is not a formal eon and no lower bound for the Archean and Eoarchean have been agreed upon. The Hadean has also sometimes been called the Priscoan or the Azoic. Sometimes, the Hadean can be found to be subdivided according to the lunar geologic time scale. These eras include the Cryptic and Basin Groups (which are subdivisions of the Pre-Nectarian era), Nectarian, and Early Imbrian units.
- These unit names were taken from the Lunar geologic timescale and refer to geologic events that did not occur on Earth. Their use for Earth geology is unofficial. Note that their start times do not dovetail perfectly with the later, terrestrially defined boundaries.
- Bowring, Samuel A.; Williams, Ian S. (1999). "Priscoan (4.00–4.03 Ga) orthogneisses from northwestern Canada". Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 134 (1): 3. Bibcode:1999CoMP..134....3B. doi:10.1007/s004100050465. The oldest rock on Earth is the Acasta Gneiss, and it dates to 4.03 Ga, located in the Northwest Territories of Canada.