The Geologic Time Scale 2012

The Geologic Time Scale 2012

1st Edition - July 31, 2012

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  • Editors: F.M. Gradstein, J G Ogg, Mark Schmitz, Gabi Ogg
  • eBook ISBN: 9780444594488

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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

  • Dedication




    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



Product details

  • No. of pages: 1176
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2012
  • Published: July 31, 2012
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • eBook ISBN: 9780444594488

About the Editors

F.M. Gradstein

F.M. Gradstein
FELIX GRADSTEIN is Professor Emeritus at Oslo University, Norway and visiting Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth, UK. From 2000 to 2008, he was chair of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. Under his leadership major progress was made with the formal definition of chronostratigraphic units from Precambrian through Quaternary. For his fundamental work concerning the Geologic Time Scale, geochronology in general, quantitative stratigraphy and micropaleontology, the European Geosciences Union awarded him in 2010 the Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal. He is Chair of the Geologic Time Scale Foundation and teaches courses in quantitative stratigraphy and the geologic time scale. Now that he has free time again, after completing this book with his outstanding co-editors and co-authors, he studies the early evolution of planktonic foraminifera.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Oslo, Norway; Chronostratigraphy, paleontology

J G Ogg

J G Ogg
JAMES OGG (Professor at Purdue University, Indiana, USA) was Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (2000-2008), and is currently serving as coordinator of that ICS stratigraphy information service. 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.

Affiliations and Expertise

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Mark Schmitz

Mark Schmitz
MARK SCHMITZ is Professor of Geochemistry at Boise State University, Idaho, USA, and has extensive research interests in the development and application of radiogenic isotope geochemistry and high-precision U-Pb geochronology to problems of Earth systems evolution. He has been an active member of the Earth Time community and was co-editor and author for the Geologic Time Scale 2012. He seeks to enrich the radioisotopic calibration of the time scale through targeted dating of stratigraphically important volcanic event beds and the construction of robust chronostratigraphic models through geologic time. His extensive database with over 300 standardized radiogenic isotope ages (mainly U/Pb and Ar/Ar) is vital to this book.

Affiliations and Expertise

Boise State University, Idaho, USA; Geochronology

Gabi Ogg

Gabi Ogg
GABI OGG applied micropaleontology to Jurassic-Cretaceous correlations before concentrating on public outreach in geosciences. She coordinated the extensive array of graphics in this book, and is the webmaster for the Geologic TimeScale Foundation ( and for the TimeScale Creator visualization and database suites ( In addition to co-authoring the Concise Geologic TimeScale (GTS2016) and The Geologic Time Scale (GTS2012) books, she has produced numerous posters and time scale cards for public audiences.

Affiliations and Expertise

Geologic TimeScale Foundation, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Paleontology, geo-graphics

Ratings and Reviews

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  • ThomasRice Fri Jan 03 2020

    GTS 2012 2-vol book

    thorough. detailed. well-edited.

  • Albert K. Mon May 14 2018

    The Geologic Time Scale 2012 Volume 1 & 2, 2012

    Excellent. The recent advancements in the Geologic sciences adds more detail to understanding the History of the Earth and the Geologic Time Scale.