Abstract

We present an integrated geochronology for late Neogene time (Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene Epochs) based on an analysis of data from stable isotopes, magnetostratigraphy, radiochronology, and calcareous plankton biostratigraphy. Discrepancies between recently formulated astronomical chronologies and magnetochronologies for the past 6 m.y. have been resolved on the basis of new, high-precision Ar/Ar ages in the younger part of this interval, the so-called Brunhes, Matuyama, and Gauss Epochs (= Chrons C1n–C2An; 0–3.58 Ma), and revised analysis of sea floor anomalies in the Pacific Ocean in the older part, the so-called Gilbert Epoch (= Chron C2Ar–C3r; 3.58–5.89 Ma). The magneto- and astrochronologies are now concordant back to the Chron C3r/C3An boundary at 5.89 Ma. The Neogene (Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene) and Paleogene are treated here as period/system subdivisions of the Cenozoic Era/Erathem, replacements for the antiquated terms Tertiary and Quaternary. The boundary between the Miocene and Pliocene Series (Messinian/Zanclean Stages), whose global stratotype section and point (GSSP) is currently proposed to be in Sicily, is located within the reversed interval just below the Thvera (C3n.4n) Magnetic Polarity Subchronozone with an estimated age of 5.32 Ma. The Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary, whose GSSP is located at Vrica (Calabria, Italy), is located near the top of the Olduvai (C2n) Magnetic Polarity Subchronozone with an estimated age of 1.81 Ma. The 13 calcareous nannoplankton and 48 planktonic foraminiferal datum events for the Pliocene, and 12 calcareous nannoplankton and 10 planktonic foraminiferal datum events for the Pleistocene, are calibrated to the newly revised late Neogene astronomical/geomagnetic polarity time scale.

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