The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago. The Miocene was named by Charles Lyell; the Miocene is followed by the Pliocene. As the earth went from the Oligocene through the Miocene and into the Pliocene, the climate cooled towards a series of ice ages; the Miocene boundaries are not marked by a single distinct global event but consist rather of regionally defined boundaries between the warmer Oligocene and the cooler Pliocene Epoch. The Apes first evolved and diversified during the early Miocene, becoming widespread in the Old World. By the end of this epoch and the start of the following one, the ancestors of humans had split away from the ancestors of the chimpanzees to follow their own evolutionary path during the final Messinian stage of the Miocene; as in the Oligocene before it, grasslands continued to forests to dwindle in extent. In the seas of the Miocene, kelp forests made their first appearance and soon became one of Earth's most productive ecosystems.
The plants and animals of the Miocene were recognizably modern. Mammals and birds were well-established. Whales and kelp spread; the Miocene is of particular interest to geologists and palaeoclimatologists as major phases of the geology of the Himalaya occurred during the Miocene, affecting monsoonal patterns in Asia, which were interlinked with glacial periods in the northern hemisphere. The Miocene faunal stages from youngest to oldest are named according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy: Regionally, other systems are used, based on characteristic land mammals. Of the modern geologic features, only the land bridge between South America and North America was absent, although South America was approaching the western subduction zone in the Pacific Ocean, causing both the rise of the Andes and a southward extension of the Meso-American peninsula. Mountain building took place in western North America and East Asia. Both continental and marine Miocene deposits are common worldwide with marine outcrops common near modern shorelines.
Well studied continental exposures occur in Argentina. India continued creating dramatic new mountain ranges; the Tethys Seaway continued to shrink and disappeared as Africa collided with Eurasia in the Turkish–Arabian region between 19 and 12 Ma. The subsequent uplift of mountains in the western Mediterranean region and a global fall in sea levels combined to cause a temporary drying up of the Mediterranean Sea near the end of the Miocene; the global trend was towards increasing aridity caused by global cooling reducing the ability of the atmosphere to absorb moisture. Uplift of East Africa in the late Miocene was responsible for the shrinking of tropical rain forests in that region, Australia got drier as it entered a zone of low rainfall in the Late Miocene. During the Oligocene and Early Miocene the coast of northern Brazil, south-central Peru, central Chile and large swathes of inland Patagonia were subject to a marine transgression; the transgressions in the west coast of South America is thought to be caused by a regional phenomenon while the rising central segment of the Andes represents an exception.
While there are numerous registers of Oligo-Miocene transgressions around the world it is doubtful that these correlate. It is thought that the Oligo-Miocene transgression in Patagonia could have temporarily linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as inferred from the findings of marine invertebrate fossils of both Atlantic and Pacific affinity in La Cascada Formation. Connection would have occurred through narrow epicontinental seaways that formed channels in a dissected topography; the Antarctic Plate started to subduct beneath South America 14 million years ago in the Miocene, forming the Chile Triple Junction. At first the Antarctic Plate subducted only in the southernmost tip of Patagonia, meaning that the Chile Triple Junction lay near the Strait of Magellan; as the southern part of Nazca Plate and the Chile Rise became consumed by subduction the more northerly regions of the Antarctic Plate begun to subduct beneath Patagonia so that the Chile Triple Junction advanced to the north over time.
The asthenospheric window associated to the triple junction disturbed previous patterns of mantle convection beneath Patagonia inducing an uplift of ca. 1 km that reversed the Oligocene–Miocene transgression. Climates remained moderately warm, although the slow global cooling that led to the Pleistocene glaciations continued. Although a long-term cooling trend was well underway, there is evidence of a warm period during the Miocene when the global climate rivalled that of the Oligocene; the Miocene warming b
Geological history of Earth
The geological history of Earth follows the major events in Earth's past based on the geological time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the planet's rock layers. Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, which created the rest of the Solar System. Earth was molten due to extreme volcanism and frequent collisions with other bodies; the outer layer of the planet cooled to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed soon afterwards as a result of the impact of a planetoid with the Earth. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, augmented by ice delivered from comets, produced the oceans; as the surface continually reshaped itself over hundreds of millions of years, continents formed and broke apart. They migrated across the surface combining to form a supercontinent.
750 million years ago, the earliest-known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents recombined to form Pannotia, 600 to 540 million years ago finally Pangaea, which broke apart 200 million years ago; the present pattern of ice ages began about 40 million years ago intensified at the end of the Pliocene. The polar regions have since undergone repeated cycles of glaciation and thaw, repeating every 40,000–100,000 years; the last glacial period of the current ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. The Precambrian includes 90% of geologic time, it extends from 4.6 billion years ago to the beginning of the Cambrian Period. It includes three eons, the Hadean and Proterozoic. Major volcanic events altering the Earth's environment and causing extinctions may have occurred 10 times in the past 3 billion years. During Hadean time, the Solar System was forming within a large cloud of gas and dust around the sun, called an accretion disc from which Earth formed 4,500 million years ago; the Hadean Eon is not formally recognized, but it marks the era before we have adequate record of significant solid rocks.
The oldest dated zircons date from about 4,400 million years ago. Earth was molten due to extreme volcanism and frequent collisions with other bodies; the outer layer of the planet cooled to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed soon afterwards as a result of the impact of a large planetoid with the Earth; some of this object's mass merged with the Earth altering its internal composition, a portion was ejected into space. Some of the material survived to form an orbiting moon. More recent potassium isotopic studies suggest that the Moon was formed by a smaller, high-energy, high-angular-momentum giant impact cleaving off a significant portion of the Earth. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, augmented by ice delivered from comets, produced the oceans. During the Hadean the Late Heavy Bombardment occurred during which a large number of impact craters are believed to have formed on the Moon, by inference on Earth, Mercury and Mars as well.
The Earth of the early Archean may have had a different tectonic style. During this time, the Earth's crust cooled enough that continental plates began to form; some scientists think because the Earth was hotter, that plate tectonic activity was more vigorous than it is today, resulting in a much greater rate of recycling of crustal material. This may have prevented cratonisation and continent formation until the mantle cooled and convection slowed down. Others argue that the subcontinental lithospheric mantle is too buoyant to subduct and that the lack of Archean rocks is a function of erosion and subsequent tectonic events. In contrast to the Proterozoic, Archean rocks are heavily metamorphized deep-water sediments, such as graywackes, volcanic sediments and banded iron formations. Greenstone belts are typical Archean formations, consisting of alternating high- and low-grade metamorphic rocks; the high-grade rocks were derived from volcanic island arcs, while the low-grade metamorphic rocks represent deep-sea sediments eroded from the neighboring island rocks and deposited in a forearc basin.
In short, greenstone belts represent sutured protocontinents. The Earth's magnetic field was established 3.5 billion years ago. The solar wind flux was about 100 times the value of the modern Sun, so the presence of the magnetic field helped prevent the planet's atmosphere from being stripped away, what happened to the atmosphere of Mars. However, the field strength was lower than at present and the magnetosphere was about half the modern radius; the geologic record of the Proterozoic is more complete than that for the preceding Archean. In contrast to the deep-water deposits of the Archean, the Proterozoic features many strata that were laid down in extensive shallow epicontinental seas. Study of these rocks show that the eon featured massive, rapid continental accretion, supercontinent cycles, wholly modern orogenic activity. 750 million years ago, the earliest-known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents recombined to form Pannotia, 600–540 Ma; the first-known glaciations occurred during the Proterozoic, one began shortly after the beginning of the eon, while there were at least four during the Neoproterozoic, cl
Brontoscorpio anglicus is a species of fossil scorpion. Its remains were discovered in Upper Silurian-aged sandstone from Trimpley and the species was described on the basis of an incomplete single free finger of a pedipalp 10 centimetres long; the complete animal is estimated to have been at least 90 centimetres long. Its carnivorous diet may have consisted of other arthropods; the remains were found in terrestrial sediments, but it is believed, that due to its size, Brontoscorpio had to enter the water to molt. It lived an amphibian or aquatic life
The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
The Paleocene or Palaeocene, the "old recent", is a geological epoch that lasted from about 66 to 56 million years ago. It is the first epoch of the Paleogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era; as with many geologic periods, the strata that define the epoch's beginning and end are well identified, but the exact ages remain uncertain. The Paleocene Epoch is bracketed by two major events in Earth's history, it started with the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous, known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. This was a time marked by the demise of non-avian dinosaurs, giant marine reptiles and much other fauna and flora; the die-off of the dinosaurs left unfilled ecological niches worldwide. The Paleocene ended with the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, a geologically brief interval characterized by extreme changes in climate and carbon cycling; the name "Paleocene" comes from Ancient Greek and refers to the "old" "new" fauna that arose during the epoch. The K–Pg boundary that marks the separation between Cretaceous and Paleocene is visible in the geological record of much of the Earth by a discontinuity in the fossil fauna and high iridium levels.
There is fossil evidence of abrupt changes in flora and fauna. There is some evidence that a substantial but short-lived climatic change may have happened in the early decades of the Paleocene. There are several theories about the cause of the K–Pg extinction event, with most evidence supporting the impact of a 10 km diameter asteroid forming the buried Chicxulub crater on the coast of Yucatan, Mexico; the end of the Paleocene was marked by a time of major change, one of the most significant periods of global change during the Cenozoic. The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum upset oceanic and atmospheric circulation and led to the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera and a major turnover in mammals on land; the Paleocene is divided into three stages, the Danian, the Selandian and the Thanetian, as shown in the table above. Additionally, the Paleocene is divided into six Mammal Paleogene zones; the early Paleocene was cooler and drier than the preceding Cretaceous, though temperatures rose during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum.
The climate became warm and humid worldwide towards the Eocene boundary, with subtropical vegetation growing in Greenland and Patagonia, crocodilians swimming off the coast of Greenland, early primates evolving in the tropical palm forests of northern Wyoming. The Earth's poles were temperate. In many ways, the Paleocene continued processes. During the Paleocene, the continents continued to drift toward their present positions. Supercontinent Laurasia had not yet separated into three continents - Europe and Greenland were still connected, North America and Asia were still intermittently joined by a land bridge, while Greenland and North America were beginning to separate; the Laramide orogeny of the late Cretaceous continued to uplift the Rocky Mountains in the American west, which ended in the succeeding epoch. South and North America remained separated by equatorial seas. Africa was heading north towards Europe closing the Tethys Ocean, India began its migration to Asia that would lead to a tectonic collision and the formation of the Himalayas.
The inland seas in North America and Europe had receded by the beginning of the Paleocene, making way for new land-based flora and fauna. Warm seas circulated including the poles; the earliest Paleocene featured a low diversity and abundance of marine life, but this trend reversed in the epoch. Tropical conditions gave rise including coral reefs. With the demise of marine reptiles at the end of the Cretaceous, sharks became the top predators. At the end of the Cretaceous, the ammonites and many species of foraminifera became extinct. Marine fauna came to resemble modern fauna, with only the marine mammals and the Carcharhinid sharks missing. Terrestrial Paleocene strata overlying the K–Pg boundary is in places marked by a "fern spike": a bed rich in fern fossils. Ferns are the first species to colonize areas damaged by forest fires. In general, the Paleocene is marked by the development of modern plant species. Cacti and palm trees appeared. Paleocene and plant fossils are attributed to modern genera or to related taxa.
The warm temperatures worldwide gave rise to thick tropical, sub-tropical and deciduous forest cover around the globe with ice-free polar regions covered with coniferous and deciduous trees. With no large browsing dinosaurs to thin them, Paleocene forests were denser than those of the Cretaceous. Flowering plants, first seen in the Cretaceous, continued to develop and proliferate, along with them coevolved the insects that fed on these plants and pollinated them. Mammals had first appeared in the Late Triassic, evolving from advanced cynodonts, developed alongside the dinosaurs, exploiting ecological niches untouched by the larger and more famous Mesozoic animals: in the insect-rich fo
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from 56 to 33.9 million years ago, is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Paleocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch; the start of the Eocene is marked by a brief period in which the concentration of the carbon isotope 13C in the atmosphere was exceptionally low in comparison with the more common isotope 12C. The end is set at a major extinction event called the Grande Coupure or the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event, which may be related to the impact of one or more large bolides in Siberia and in what is now Chesapeake Bay; as with other geologic periods, the strata that define the start and end of the epoch are well identified, though their exact dates are uncertain. The name Eocene comes from the Ancient Greek ἠώς and καινός and refers to the "dawn" of modern fauna that appeared during the epoch; the Eocene epoch is conventionally divided into early and late subdivisions.
The corresponding rocks are referred to as lower and upper Eocene. The Ypresian stage constitutes the lower, the Priabonian stage the upper; the Eocene Epoch contained a wide variety of different climate conditions that includes the warmest climate in the Cenozoic Era and ends in an icehouse climate. The evolution of the Eocene climate began with warming after the end of the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum at 56 million years ago to a maximum during the Eocene Optimum at around 49 million years ago. During this period of time, little to no ice was present on Earth with a smaller difference in temperature from the equator to the poles. Following the maximum was a descent into an icehouse climate from the Eocene Optimum to the Eocene-Oligocene transition at 34 million years ago. During this decrease ice began to reappear at the poles, the Eocene-Oligocene transition is the period of time where the Antarctic ice sheet began to expand. Greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide and methane, played a significant role during the Eocene in controlling the surface temperature.
The end of the PETM was met with a large sequestration of carbon dioxide in the form of methane clathrate and crude oil at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, that reduced the atmospheric carbon dioxide. This event was similar in magnitude to the massive release of greenhouse gasses at the beginning of the PETM, it is hypothesized that the sequestration was due to organic carbon burial and weathering of silicates. For the early Eocene there is much discussion; this is due to numerous proxies representing different atmospheric carbon dioxide content. For example, diverse geochemical and paleontological proxies indicate that at the maximum of global warmth the atmospheric carbon dioxide values were at 700–900 ppm while other proxies such as pedogenic carbonate and marine boron isotopes indicate large changes of carbon dioxide of over 2,000 ppm over periods of time of less than 1 million years. Sources for this large influx of carbon dioxide could be attributed to volcanic out-gassing due to North Atlantic rifting or oxidation of methane stored in large reservoirs deposited from the PETM event in the sea floor or wetland environments.
For contrast, today the carbon dioxide levels are at 400 ppm or 0.04%. At about the beginning of the Eocene Epoch the amount of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere more or less doubled. During the early Eocene, methane was another greenhouse gas that had a drastic effect on the climate. In comparison to carbon dioxide, methane has much greater effect on temperature as methane is around 34 times more effective per molecule than carbon dioxide on a 100-year scale. Most of the methane released to the atmosphere during this period of time would have been from wetlands and forests; the atmospheric methane concentration today is 0.000179% or 1.79 ppmv. Due to the warmer climate and sea level rise associated with the early Eocene, more wetlands, more forests, more coal deposits would be available for methane release. Comparing the early Eocene production of methane to current levels of atmospheric methane, the early Eocene would be able to produce triple the amount of current methane production; the warm temperatures during the early Eocene could have increased methane production rates, methane, released into the atmosphere would in turn warm the troposphere, cool the stratosphere, produce water vapor and carbon dioxide through oxidation.
Biogenic production of methane produces carbon dioxide and water vapor along with the methane, as well as yielding infrared radiation. The breakdown of methane in an oxygen atmosphere produces carbon monoxide, water vapor and infrared radiation; the carbon monoxide is not stable so it becomes carbon dioxide and in doing so releases yet more infrared radiation. Water vapor traps more infrared than does carbon dioxide; the middle to late Eocene marks not only the switch from warming to cooling, but the change in carbon dioxide from increasing to decreasing. At the end of the Eocene Optimum, carbon dioxide began decreasing due to increased siliceous plankton productivity and marine carbon burial. At the beginning of the middle Eocene an event that may have triggered or helped with the draw down of carbon dioxide was the Azolla event at around 49 million years ago. With the equable climate during the early Eocene, warm temperatures in the arctic allowed for the growth of azolla, a floating aquatic fern, on the Arctic Ocean.
Compared to current carb
The Pleistocene is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology; the Pleistocene is the first epoch of the Quaternary Period or sixth epoch of the Cenozoic Era. In the ICS timescale, the Pleistocene is divided into four stages or ages, the Gelasian, Middle Pleistocene and Upper Pleistocene. In addition to this international subdivision, various regional subdivisions are used. Before a change confirmed in 2009 by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the time boundary between the Pleistocene and the preceding Pliocene was regarded as being at 1.806 million years Before Present, as opposed to the accepted 2.588 million years BP: publications from the preceding years may use either definition of the period. Charles Lyell introduced the term "Pleistocene" in 1839 to describe strata in Sicily that had at least 70% of their molluscan fauna still living today.
This distinguished it from the older Pliocene epoch, which Lyell had thought to be the youngest fossil rock layer. He constructed the name "Pleistocene" from the Greek πλεῖστος, pleīstos, "most", καινός, kainós, "new"; the Pleistocene has been dated from 2.588 million to 11,700 years BP with the end date expressed in radiocarbon years as 10,000 carbon-14 years BP. It covers most of the latest period of repeated glaciation, up to and including the Younger Dryas cold spell; the end of the Younger Dryas has been dated to about 9640 BC. The end of the Younger Dryas is the official start of the current Holocene Epoch. Although it is considered an epoch, the Holocene is not different from previous interglacial intervals within the Pleistocene, it was not until after the development of radiocarbon dating, that Pleistocene archaeological excavations shifted to stratified caves and rock-shelters as opposed to open-air river-terrace sites. In 2009 the International Union of Geological Sciences confirmed a change in time period for the Pleistocene, changing the start date from 1.806 to 2.588 million years BP, accepted the base of the Gelasian as the base of the Pleistocene, namely the base of the Monte San Nicola GSSP.
The IUGS has yet to approve a type section, Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point, for the upper Pleistocene/Holocene boundary. The proposed section is the North Greenland Ice Core Project ice core 75° 06' N 42° 18' W; the lower boundary of the Pleistocene Series is formally defined magnetostratigraphically as the base of the Matuyama chronozone, isotopic stage 103. Above this point there are notable extinctions of the calcareous nanofossils: Discoaster pentaradiatus and Discoaster surculus; the Pleistocene covers the recent period of repeated glaciations. The name Plio-Pleistocene has, in the past, been used to mean the last ice age; the revised definition of the Quaternary, by pushing back the start date of the Pleistocene to 2.58 Ma, results in the inclusion of all the recent repeated glaciations within the Pleistocene. The modern continents were at their present positions during the Pleistocene, the plates upon which they sit having moved no more than 100 km relative to each other since the beginning of the period.
According to Mark Lynas, the Pleistocene's overall climate could be characterized as a continuous El Niño with trade winds in the south Pacific weakening or heading east, warm air rising near Peru, warm water spreading from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific, other El Niño markers. Pleistocene climate was marked by repeated glacial cycles in which continental glaciers pushed to the 40th parallel in some places, it is estimated. In addition, a zone of permafrost stretched southward from the edge of the glacial sheet, a few hundred kilometres in North America, several hundred in Eurasia; the mean annual temperature at the edge of the ice was −6 °C. Each glacial advance tied up huge volumes of water in continental ice sheets 1,500 to 3,000 metres thick, resulting in temporary sea-level drops of 100 metres or more over the entire surface of the Earth. During interglacial times, such as at present, drowned coastlines were common, mitigated by isostatic or other emergent motion of some regions.
The effects of glaciation were global. Antarctica was ice-bound throughout the Pleistocene as well as the preceding Pliocene; the Andes were covered in the south by the Patagonian ice cap. There were glaciers in New Tasmania; the current decaying glaciers of Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ruwenzori Range in east and central Africa were larger. Glaciers existed to the west in the Atlas mountains. In the northern hemisphere, many glaciers fused into one; the Cordilleran ice sheet covered the North American northwest. The Fenno-Scandian ice sheet rested including much of Great Britain. Scattered domes stretched across Siberi