The Geologic Time Scale 2012

1st Edition

Editors: F M Gradstein J G Ogg Mark Schmitz Gabi Ogg
Paperback ISBN: 9780444594259
eBook ISBN: 9780444594488
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 31st July 2012
Page Count: 1176
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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





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


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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