Engineering geology
geologic time scale

Time scale

Numbers on the time scale represent time in millions of years before present. Numerical dates were added long after the time scale was established using relative dating techniques.
The dates on this time scale are those currently accepted by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) in 2014. The color scheme used on this chart was selected because it is similar to that used by the ICS.

Rationale

Evidence from radiometric dating indicates that Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. The geology or deep time of Earth’s past has been organized into various units according to events which took place. Different spans of time on the GTS are usually marked by corresponding changes in the composition of strata which indicate major geological or paleontological events, such as mass extinctions.

For example, the boundary between the Cretaceous period and the Paleogene period is defined by the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, which marked the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs and many other groups of life. Older time spans, which predate the reliable fossil record (before the Proterozoic eon), are defined by their absolute age.

Geologic units

Geologic units from the same time but different parts of the world often look different and contain different fossils, so the same time-span was historically given different names in different locales. For example, in North America, the Lower Cambrian is called the Waucoban series that is then subdivided into zones based on a succession of trilobites.

In East Asia and Siberia, the same unit is split into Alexian, Atdabanian, and Botomian stages. A key aspect of the work of the International Commission on Stratigraphy is to reconcile this conflicting terminology and define universal horizons that can be used around the world.

Some other planets and moons in the Solar System have sufficiently rigid structures to have preserved records of their own histories, for example, Venus, Mars and the Earth’s Moon. Dominantly fluid planets, such as the gas giants, do not preserve their history in a comparable manner.

Apart from the Late Heavy Bombardment, events on other planets probably had little direct influence on the Earth, and events on Earth had correspondingly little effect on those planets. Construction of a time scale that links the planets is, therefore, of only limited relevance to the Earth’s time scale, except in a Solar System context.

The existence, timing, and terrestrial effects of the Late Heavy Bombardment are still a matter of debate

Adapted from Wikipedia

6 thoughts on “Time scale

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