Our geological time-scale has been built up over the past three centuries. It provides a global framework for establishing the 4.6 billion year history of our planet as written in the rock record, and is a work in progress that needs continual updating. The book under review is the fourth on the subject published by Cambridge University Press in the past 37 years. The previous three volumes (Harland et al. 1982, 1990, Gradstein et al. 2004) all bear the title “A geologic time scale”, whereas the title of the present edition uses the definite article with...

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