geologic time-scale

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A twofold scale that subdivides all the time since the Earth first came into being into named units of abstract time, and subdivides all the rocks formed since the Earth came into being into the successions of rock formed during each particular interval of time. The branch of geology that deals with the age relations of rocks is known as chronostratigraphy. The concept of a geologic time-scale has been evolving for the last century and a half, commencing with a relative time-scale (mainly achieved through biostratigraphy), to which it has gradually become possible to assign dates which are, nonetheless, subject to constant revision and refinement. Since the first International Geological Congress in Paris in 1878, one of the main objectives of stratigraphers has been the production of a complete and globally accepted stratigraphic scale to provide a historical framework into which all rocks, anywhere in the world, can be fitted. Such a standard scale is still a long way off, but the names for geologic-time units and chronostratigraphic units down to the rank of period/system are in common use; many epoch/series and age/stage names are still regionally variable. The International Union of Geological Sciences is the body responsible for agreeing the names and dates to be used in the time-scale. The most recent revision was published in 2004.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation — Earth Sciences and Geography.

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