The Geologic Time Scale 2012 - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780444594259, 9780444594488

The Geologic Time Scale 2012

1st Edition

Editors: F M Gradstein J G Ogg Mark Schmitz Gabi Ogg
eBook ISBN: 9780444594488
Paperback ISBN: 9780444594259
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 31st July 2012
Page Count: 1176
Tax/VAT will be calculated at check-out
File Compatibility per Device

PDF, EPUB, VSB (Vital Source):
PC, Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android mobile devices.

Amazon Kindle eReader.

Institutional Access


The Geologic Time Scale 2012, winner of a 2012 PROSE Award Honorable Mention for Best Multi-volume Reference in Science from the Association of American Publishers, is the framework for deciphering the history of our planet Earth. The authors have been at the forefront of chronostratigraphic research and initiatives to create an international geologic time scale for many years, and the charts in this book present the most up-to-date, international standard, as ratified by the International Commission on Stratigraphy and the International Union of Geological Sciences. This 2012 geologic time scale is an enhanced, improved and expanded version of the GTS2004, including chapters on planetary scales, the Cryogenian-Ediacaran periods/systems, a prehistory scale of human development, a survey of sequence stratigraphy, and an extensive compilation of stable-isotope chemostratigraphy.

This book is an essential reference for all geoscientists, including researchers, students, and petroleum and mining professionals. The presentation is non-technical and illustrated with numerous colour charts, maps and photographs. The book also includes a detachable wall chart of the complete time scale for use as a handy reference in the office, laboratory or field.

Key Features

  • The most detailed international geologic time scale available that contextualizes information in one single reference for quick desktop access
  • Gives insights in the construction, strengths, and limitations of the geological time scale that greatly enhances its function and its utility
  • Aids understanding by combining with the mathematical and statistical methods to scaled composites of global succession of events
  • Meets the needs of a range of users at various points in the workflow (researchers extracting linear time from rock records, students recognizing the geologic stage by their content)


Professionals in industry (oil/gas/petrochemical industry), academic libraries, faculty chairs, graduate students/researchers. All geoscientists, more specifically biochronologists, evolutionary biologists, geo-engineers, space geo engineers, astronomers. Geoscience students, university teachers; all stratigraphic and paleontologic, quaternary geoscientists; individuals

Table of Contents





Editors’ Biographies


Abbreviations and acronyms


Time Scale Publications (see References for Details)

Geoscientific Concepts


Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 A Geologic Time Scale

1.2 A Geologic Time Scale GTS2012

1.3 How this Book is Arranged

1.4 Conventions and Standards

1.5 Historical Overview of Geologic Time Scales

1.6 Stratigraphic Charts and Tables


Chapter 2. The Chronostratigraphic Scale

2.1 History of Geologic Stratigraphic Standardization

2.2 Stage Unit Stratotypes

2.3 Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP)

2.3 Global Standard Stratigraphic Age (GSSA)

2.4 Other Considerations for Choosing a GSSP

2.5 Subdividing Long Stages

2.6 Do GSSP Boundary Stratotypes Simplify Stratigraphic Classification?


Chapter 3. Biochronology

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Paleontologic Events

3.3 Quantitative Stratigraphy and Biochronology

3.4 Qualitative Biostratigraphy and Biochronology



Chapter 4. Cyclostratigraphy and Astrochronology

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Earth’s Astronomical Parameters

4.3 The 405-kyr Metronome

4.4 Astronomically Forced Insolation

4.5 Cyclostratigraphy through Geologic Time

4.6 Constructing Astrochronologies and the ATS

4.7 Precision and Accuracy of the ATS

4.8 Astrochronology-Geochronology Intercalibration

4.9 A New Astronomical Solution


Chapter 5. Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale

5.1 Principles

5.2 Late Cretaceous through Cenozoic Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale

5.3 Middle Jurassic through Early Cretaceous Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale

5.4 Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale for Early Jurassic and Older Rocks

5.5 Summary


Chapter 6. Radiogenic Isotope Geochronology

6.1 Changes in Geochronological Practice Since a Geological Time Scale 2004

6.2 Changes in Geochronological Standards Applied to the Geological Time Scale 2012


Chapter 7. Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Materials for Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy

7.3 The Databases Used for this Volume

7.4 Numerical Ages

7.5 Fitting the Lowess Database

7.6 The Quality of the Fit

7.7 Rubidium Contamination

7.8 Comments on the Lowess Fit

7.9 Sr-Isotope Stratigraphy for Pre-Ordovician Time


Chapter 8. Osmium Isotope Stratigraphy

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Historical Overview

8.3 Pleistocene

8.4 Miocene

8.5 Oligocene

8.6 Late Eocene Impacts

8.7 Early Eocene

8.8 Paleocene

8.9 Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) Boundary

8.10 Pre-Cenozoic Records

8.11 Mesozoic

8.12 Paleozoic and Precambrian


Chapter 9. Sulfur Isotope Stratigraphy

9.1 Introduction

9.2 Mechanisms Driving the Variation in the S Isotope Record

9.3 Isotopic Fractionation of Sulfur

9.4 Measurement and Materials for Sulfur Isotope Stratigraphy

9.5 A Geological Time Scale Database

9.6 A Database of S Isotope Values and Their Ages for the Past 130 Million Years Using Lowess Regression

9.7 Use of S Isotopes for Correlation


Chapter 10. Oxygen Isotope Stratigraphy

10.1 Introduction

10.2 Terminology and Standardization

10.3 Fractionation Relations and Paleotemperature Scales

10.4 Application Principles and Considerations

10.5 Sample Materials

10.6 Oxygen Isotope Stratigraphy

10.7 Summary



Chapter 11. Carbon Isotope Stratigraphy

11.1 Principles of Carbon Isotope Stratigraphy

11.2 Spatial Heterogeneity of δ13C of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon

11.3 Materials and Methods

11.4 Correlation Potential and Excursions

11.5 Causes of Carbon Isotope Excursions

11.6 Conclusion



Chapter 12. A Brief History of Plants on Earth

1 Introduction

2 Paleozoic

3 Mesozoic

4 Cenozoic



Chapter 13. Sequence Stratigraphy and Sea-Level Change

13.1 Historical Links between Sea-Level Change, Sequence Stratigraphy and the Geological Time scale

13.2 The Development of Eustatic and Sequence Stratigraphic Concepts

13.3 Issues of Terminology

13.4 Uses of Sequence Stratigraphy

13.5 The Synchronicity of Global Sea-Level Changes

13.6 Causality

13.7 Conclusions



Chapter 14. Statistical Procedures

14.1 History

14.2 Spline Fitting in GTS2004

14.3 Modifications in GTS2012


Chapter 15. The Planetary Time Scale

15.1 Introduction and Methodologies

15.2 Time Scales


Chapter 16. A Chronostratigraphic Division of the Precambrian: Possibilities and Challenges

16.1 Introduction

16.2 Historical Review

16.3 Precambrian Earth History – A Progress Report

16.4 A Linked, Causative Series of Events in Precambrian Earth Evolution

16.5 A Revised Precambrian Time scale



Chapter 17. The Cryogenian Period

17.1 Historical Background

17.2 Geochronological Constraints on the Cryogenian Climate Record

17.3 The Biostratigraphic Basis for a Cryogenian Period

17.4 An Integrated Approach to Global Stratigraphic Correlation

17.5 Potential Subdivision of the Cryogenian Period


Chapter 18. The Ediacaran Period

18.1 Historical Background

18.2 Cap Carbonates and the Base of the Ediacaran System

18.3 The Biostratigraphic Basis for the Ediacaran Period

18.4 Towards an Ediacaran Chronostratigraphy

18.5 Ediacaran – Last Period of the Proterozoic or First Period of the Phanerozoic?


Chapter 19. The Cambrian Period

19.1 History and Subdivisions

19.2 Cambrian Stratigraphy

19.3 Cambrian Time Scale


Chapter 20. The Ordovician Period

20.1 History and Subdivisions

20.2 Previous Standard Divisions

20.3 Ordovician Stratigraphy

20.4 Ordovician Time Scale



Chapter 21. The Silurian Period

21.1 History and Subdivisions

21.2 Silurian Series and Stages

21.3 Silurian Stratigraphy

21.4 Silurian Time Scale



Chapter 22. The Devonian Period

22.1 History and Subdivisions

22.2 Devonian Stratigraphy

22.3 Devonian Time Scale


Chapter 23. The Carboniferous Period

23.1 History and Subdivisions

23.2 Carboniferous Stratigraphy

23.3 Carboniferous Time scale



Chapter 24. The Permian Period

24.1 History and Subdivisions

24.2 Regional Correlations

24.3 Permian Stratigraphy

24.4 Permian Time Scale


Chapter 25. Triassic

25.1 History and Subdivisions

25.2 Triassic Stratigraphy

25.3 Triassic Time scale



Chapter 26. Jurassic

26.1 History and Subdivisions

26.2 Jurassic Stratigraphy

26.3 Jurassic Time scale



Chapter 27. Cretaceous

27.1 History and Subdivisions

27.2 Cretaceous Stratigraphy

27.3 Cretaceous Time Scale



Chapter 28. The Paleogene Period

28.1 History and Subdivisions

28.2 Paleogene Biostratigraphy

28.3 Physical Stratigraphy

28.4 Paleogene Time Scale



Chapter 29. The Neogene Period

29.1 Chronostratigraphy

29.2 Stages

29.3 Biostratigraphy

29.4 Event Stratigraphy

29.5 Radio-Isotopic Ages

29.6 Climate Change and Milankovitch Cycles

29.7 Astronomically Tuned Neogene Time Scale – ATNTS2012



Chapter 30. The Quaternary Period

30.1 Evolution of Terminology

30.2 The Plio–Pleistocene Boundary and Definition of the Quaternary

30.3 Subdivision of the Pleistocene

30.4 Terrestrial Sequences

30.5 Ocean-Sediment Sequences

30.6 Land–Sea Correlation

30.7 Pleistocene–Holocene Boundary

30.8 Holocene Series

30.9 “Anthropocene Series”

30.10 Quaternary Dating Methods


Chapter 31. The Prehistoric Human Time Scale

31.1 Introduction

31.2 Hominin Phylogeny and Migration Episodes

31.3 The Paleoenvironmental Context of Early Hominin Evolution

31.4 Hominin Industries and the Terminology of Prehistoric Periods

31.5 Early and Mid Pleistocene Technologies

31.6 The earliest technologies of Homo sapiens – The Upper Paleolithic

31.7 Holocene Technologies – Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age

31.8 Conclusions



Chapter 32. The Anthropocene

32.1 The Anthropocene

32.2 Stratigraphic Signature

32.3 Beginning of the Anthropocene?

32.4 Future Duration of the Anthropocene?

32.5 Formal Consideration of the Anthropocene

32.6 Definition

32.7 Hierarchical Level



APPENDIX 1: Color Codes for Geological Timescales

APPENDIX 2: Radiometric ages used in GTS2012

References Cited

APPENDIX 3: Cenozoic and Cretaceous Biochronology of Planktonic Foraminifera and Calcareous Nannofossils




No. of pages:
© Elsevier 2012
eBook ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:

About the Editor

F M Gradstein

Felix M. Gradstein (Professor at Geology Museum, Oslo University, Norway; and visiting professor at University of Rio Grande do Sul, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil, the University of Nebraska, USA and the University of Portsmouth, UK) and was Chair of the International Commission on Stratigraphy from 2000 to 2008, and under his tenure major progress was made with the formal definition of chronostratigraphic units from Precambrian through Quaternary. For his fundamental work with regards to the Geologic Time Scale and stratigraphy, micropaleontology and geochronology in general, the European Geosciences Union awarded him in 2010 the Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal. He teaches applied biostratigraphy and paleoenvironment courses and is the current Chair of the Geologic TimeScale Foundation (

Gradstein has authored over 140 scientific publications in the fields of geological time scales, quantitative stratigraphic methods, stratigraphy and sedimentology of petroleum basins, plate tectonics, palaeoceanography, and deep-water micropalaeontology. He has a career that spans the divides between industry, government and academia, with periods working for Esso and Saga Petroleum, the Geological Survey of Canada, and Dalhousie University. Gradstein recently won the 2012 PROSE Honorable Mention Award for a multi-volume scientific reference.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Oslo, Norway

J G Ogg

James G. Ogg (Professor at Purdue University, Indiana, USA; and visiting professor at China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China) served as Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (2000-2008) and coordinated the ICS stratigraphy information service (2008-2012). His Mesozoic Stratigraphy Lab group works on aspects of climate cycles, magnetic polarity correlations and integration of stratigraphic information. Their TimeScale Creator array of visualization tools for extensive databases in global and regional Earth history ( was used to generate many of the diagrams in this book.

Ogg has published over 100 articles and coordinated 2 books as first or co- author on aspects of stratigraphy in refereed journals since 1986, and has contributed to over 70 chapters in Deep Sea Drilling Project and Ocean Drilling Program volumes. He has also won numerous awards, including the Geological Society of America: Mary B. Ansari Best Reference Work Award for The Geologic Time Scale 2004 and most recently the 2012 PROSE Honorable Mention Award for a multi-volume scientific reference.

Affiliations and Expertise

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Mark Schmitz

Affiliations and Expertise

Boise State University, Idaho, USA

Gabi Ogg

Gabi M. Ogg applied micropaleontology to Jurassic-Cretaceous correlations before concentrating on public outreach in geosciences. In addition to co-authoring the Concise Geologic TimeScale (GTS2008) book, she was a coordinator of GTS2012 and produced most of its the extensive array of graphics. She is the webmaster for the Geologic TimeScale Foundation ( and for the TimeScale Creator visualization and database suites (, and has produced numerous posters and time scale cards for public audiences.

Affiliations and Expertise

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA


PROSE Award 2012, Reference Work: Honorable Mention for Multivolume Reference/Science, American Association of Publishers


"…one of the main distinctions of the new version is the more detailed subdivision of the preceding Precambrian interval. As before, the earlier chapters of the book summarize the approaches used; they review the main methods of obtaining chronometric dates and calibrating them with geomagnetic polarity and orbital fluctuations, as well as the use of various stable isotopes in chronological and paleoenvironmental analysis…Required for specialist libraries and a valuable acquisition for other libraries lacking the 2004 edition." --CHOICE, April 2013