Epoch (geology)

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For historical time, see epoch (reference date). For astronomical usage, see epoch (astronomy).

In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age and shorter than a period. We are currently living in the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. Some scientists have proposed that we are currently living in the Anthropocene Epoch, although this has yet to be confirmed by the International Union of Geological Sciences. Rock layers deposited during an epoch are called a series. Series are subdivisions of the stratigraphic column that, like epochs, are subdivisions of the geologic timescale. Like other geochronological divisions, epochs are normally separated by significant changes in the rock layers they correspond to.

Epochs are most commonly used for the younger Cenozoic Era, where a greater collection of fossils has been found and paleontologists have more detailed knowledge of the events that occurred during those times. They are less commonly referred to for the other eras and eons, since less fossil evidence exists that allows us to form a clearer view of those time periods.

List of series (epochs) in the Phanerozoic eon[edit]

Main article: Phanerozoic

List is ordered from youngest to oldest and subdivided based on era and period.

Cenozoic

Mesozoic

Paleozoic

  • Devonian
    • Late (Upper)
    • Middle
    • Early (Lower)

References[edit]

  • Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G. & Smith, A.G.; 2004: A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press