Formal Subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch: A Summary

Mike Walker, Phil Gibbard, Martin J. Head, Max Berkelhammer, Svante Björck, Hai Cheng, Les C. Cwynar, David Fisher, Vasilios Gkinis, Antony Long, John Lowe, Rewi Newnham, Sune Olander Rasmussen, Harvey Weiss

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The Holocene Series/Epoch is the most recent series/epoch in the geological timescale, spanning the interval from 11,700 yr to the present day. Together with the subadjacent Pleistocene, it comprises the Quaternary System/Period. The Holocene record contains diverse geomorphological, biological, climatological and archaeological evidence, within sequences that are often continuous and extremely well-preserved at decadal, annual and even seasonal resolution. As a consequence, the Holocene is perhaps the most intensively-studied series/epoch within the entire Geological Time Scale. Yet until recently little attention had been paid to a formal subdivision of the Holocene. Here we describe an initiative by the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS) of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) to develop a formal stratigraphical subdivision of the Holocene, with three new stages/ages, two underpinned by Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs in an ice core, and a third in a speleothem. These stages/ages are defined together with their equivalent subseries/subepochs. The new stages/ages are the Greenlandian with its GSSP in the Greenland NGRIP2 ice core and dated at 11,700 yr b2k (before 2000 CE); the Northgrippian with its GSSP in the Greenland NGRIP1 ice core and dated to 8236 yr b2k; and the Meghalayan, with its GSSP in a speleothem from Mawmluh Cave, northeastern India, with a date of 4250 yr b2k. This subdivision was formally ratified by the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) on 14th June 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Geological Society of India
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

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© 2019, Geological Society of India.


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