Quaternary System/Period (quaternary + period)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Formal ratification of the Quaternary System/Period and the Pleistocene Series/Epoch with a base at 2.58 Ma,

Philip L. Gibbard
Abstract In June 2009, the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) formally ratified a proposal by the International Commission on Stratigraphy to lower the base of the Quaternary System/Period to the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Gelasian Stage/Age at Monte San Nicola, Sicily, Italy. The Gelasian until then had been the uppermost stage of the Pliocene Series/Epoch. The base of the Gelasian corresponds to Marine Isotope Stage 103, and has an astronomically tuned age of 2.58 Ma. A proposal that the base of the Pleistocene Series/Epoch be lowered to coincide with that of the Quaternary (the Gelasian GSSP) was also accepted by the IUGS Executive Committee. The GSSP at Vrica, Calabria, Italy, which had hitherto defined the basal boundary of both the Quaternary and the Pleistocene, remains available as the base of the Calabrian Stage/Age (now the second stage of the revised Pleistocene). In ratifying these proposals, the IUGS has acknowledged the distinctive qualities of the Quaternary by reaffirming it as a full system/period, correctly complied with the hierarchical requirements of the geological timescale by lowering the base of the Pleistocene to that of the Quaternary, and fully respected the historical and widespread current usage of both the terms ,Quaternary' and ,Pleistocene'. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Formal definition and dating of the GSSP (Global Stratotype Section and Point) for the base of the Holocene using the Greenland NGRIP ice core, and selected auxiliary records,

Mike Walker
Abstract The Greenland ice core from NorthGRIP (NGRIP) contains a proxy climate record across the Pleistocene,Holocene boundary of unprecedented clarity and resolution. Analysis of an array of physical and chemical parameters within the ice enables the base of the Holocene, as reflected in the first signs of climatic warming at the end of the Younger Dryas/Greenland Stadial 1 cold phase, to be located with a high degree of precision. This climatic event is most clearly reflected in an abrupt shift in deuterium excess values, accompanied by more gradual changes in ,18O, dust concentration, a range of chemical species, and annual layer thickness. A timescale based on multi-parameter annual layer counting provides an age of 11 700 calendar yr b2,k (before AD 2000) for the base of the Holocene, with a maximum counting error of 99,yr. A proposal that an archived core from this unique sequence should constitute the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Holocene Series/Epoch (Quaternary System/Period) has been ratified by the International Union of Geological Sciences. Five auxiliary stratotypes for the Pleistocene,Holocene boundary have also been recognised. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]


ABSTRACT. Since the rapid rate of global warming at the onset of the Bølling interstadial became evident, its cause has been under debate. It coincides closely in time with a strong global transgression called meltwater pulse 1a. One attempt at solution says that a meltwater pulse of Antarctic origin could cause an increase in North Atlantic Deep Water formation, and thus give rise to the Bølling interstadial. However, others have disputed that Antarctic meltwater would have that effect, and furthermore, the start of the Bølling interstadial is not even associated with an increase in North Atlantic Deep Water. A controversial hypothesis says that some Laurentian meltwater came from a jökulhlaup (sub-glacial outburst flood), but no study has yet shown unequivocally that sufficient amounts of water could be stored under the ice. Furthermore, according to all available data a melt-water pulse from the Laurentian ice would give rise to strong cooling, not warming. Nevertheless, meg-afloods appear instrumental in accumulating the Mississippi Fan, created entirely during the Quaternary period, and dramatic climate changes are characteristic of this period. This paper presents a hypothetical chain of events, building on the published literature and simple calculations, to investigate whether the order of magnitude is reasonable. The hypothesis is that a jökulhlaup from a Laurentian captured ice shelf flowed out through the Mississippi, boosted the Gulf Stream, reinvigorated the North Atlantic circulation, and as a result triggered the Bølling warm phase. [source]

Climate change and grasslands through the ages: an overview

L. 't Mannetje
Summary Change from cool to warm temperatures and vice versa have occurred throughout geological time. During the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (206,65 million years ago, Ma) the climate was more uniformly warm and moist than at present and tropical rainforests were widespread. Grasses evolved during the Jurassic period and they expanded greatly as the climate differentiated with reduced rainfall and temperatures. C4 -grasses probably arose during the Oligocene period (24,35 Ma). During the Miocene period (23·8,5·3 Ma) grasslands expanded into huge areas (e.g. prairies in the USA, steppe in Eurasia, and pampas and llanos in South America). During the Quaternary period (1·8 Ma till now) some twenty-two different ice ages with periodicities of about 100 000 years occurred. Eighteen-thousand years ago, north-western Europe had a polar climate with tundra vegetation and the Mediterranean region was covered by steppe. During that time Amazonia was so dry that it was covered in extensive areas of savanna and the Sahara expanded rapidly. Only in the last 10 000 years has a closed rainforest covered the Amazonian region again. However, 9000 years ago a brief period of global warming caused excessive rains, which caused the sea and river levels to rise in north-western Europe with tremendous loss of life. The present period of extreme dryness in the Sahara only started some 5000 years ago and then the desert expanded rapidly into the Sahel. Before that the Sahara was covered by steppe. Global warming took place between about ad 900 and about ad 1200 or 1300 just before the Little Ice Age (1550,1700 ad). The article concludes with a description of temperature and vegetation changes that are occurring in Europe at present. It is predicted that C4 -grasses, which are already present in southern Europe, will further expand but that, in the short term, land abandonment will have much more deleterious effects than temperature change due to increased wild fires, loss of biodiversity and desertification. [source]

Yellow-brown earth on Quaternary red clay in Langxi County, Anhui Province in subtropical China: Evidence for paleoclimatic change in late Quaternary period,

Xue-Feng Hu
Abstract In order to investigate the paleoclimatic changes in S China during the late Quaternary and their influence on pedogenesis and soil classification, a yellow-brown earth (YBE),red clay (RC) profile in Langxi County, Anhui Province was studied. The grain-size distribution and the major- and trace-element compositions of the profile indicate that the YBE of the profile shares the same origin with the YBE in Jiujiang and Xuancheng and the Xiashu loess in Zhenjiang, and the underlying RC also has aeolian characteristics and shares the same origin with the Xiashu loess. Grain-size characteristics, molecular ratios of SiO2/Al2O3, SiO2/(Al2O3+Fe2O3), and BA ([CaO+MgO+K2O+Na2O]/Al2O3) and other weathering indices (CaO/TiO2, MgO/TiO2, K2O/TiO2, Na2O/TiO2, and Rb/Sr) of the profile indicate that the RC is more strongly weathered than the YBE. Magnetic susceptibility (,lf) of the uniform red clay (URC) of the profile is significantly enhanced. However, that of the underlying reticulate red clay (RRC) is significantly decreased because of the paleogroundwater movement and cannot indicate its strong weathering properties. The YBE-RC profile in Langxi County recorded a great climatic change during late Quaternary: At that time, the pedogenic development of the RC was terminated and widespread dust deposition occurred. The parent material of the RC may be aeolian deposits which were accumulated before the last interglacial and were strongly weathered and rubified under the subsequent interglacial climate. It is observed that red soils, derived from the RC, and yellow-brown soils, derived from the YBE, coexist in the study area, which is contradictive to the theory of the zonal distribution of soils. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the history of Quaternary climatic changes when studying pedogenesis. [source]

A comparison of taiga flora in north-eastern Russia and Alaska/Yukon

David K. Swanson
Abstract Aim, To understand the similarities and differences between the taiga floras of far north-eastern Asia and north-western North America in the light of their Tertiary and Quaternary histories. Does the taiga flora follow the tundra pattern (Asian,American commonality of species as a result of continuity through the Quaternary), the temperate forest pattern (distinct species because of late Tertiary disjunction), a combination of these two patterns, or some pattern unique to the taiga? Location, The taiga regions of interior Alaska and the Yukon in North America (the ,Alaskan taiga'), and the Kolyma and eastern Indigirka River basins in Russia (the ,Kolyma taiga'). The study areas include both forested and unforested habitats below elevational treeline. The two regions have similar climate and topography and were linked via the Bering Land Bridge in the Tertiary and for several extended periods during Quaternary cold periods. Methods, Systematic comparison of the vascular floras of the two regions from published sources; and review of palaeoecological literature for the region. Results, Of the 796 species found in the study areas, 27% occur only in the Alaskan taiga, 35% occur only in the Kolyma taiga, and 38% occur in both the regions. The following subsets of species show a high proportion of species in common between the study areas (subsets are not mutually exclusive): plants that occur on the tundra and the taiga, non-flowering plants, abundant taiga understory plants, and wetland and aquatic plants. A lower proportion of shared plants was noted for warm, south-facing steppe communities. No tree species are common to both areas. Main conclusions, The Bering Strait region in the Quaternary has acted as a biogeographical filter for taiga plants. Significant divergence between northeast Asia and northwest North America has developed among the more southerly ranging fraction of the flora (e.g. trees), while the more cosmopolitan and the most cold-adapted elements of the taiga flora are common to both areas. Many plants in the former group have been disjunct between Asia and North America for millions of years, while many plants in the latter group have probably maintained continuity between the study areas via the Bering Land Bridge through much of the late Tertiary and Quaternary periods. Repeated extirpation of the less cold-adapted species from both study areas during Pleistocene cold periods has probably enhanced floristic differences between the two regions. [source]