The Holocene is the current geological epoch. It began 11,650 cal years before present, after the last glacial period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat; the Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene together form the Quaternary period. The Holocene has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1, it is considered by some to be an interglacial period within the Pleistocene Epoch. The Holocene has seen the growth and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all its written history, development of major civilizations, overall significant transition toward urban living in the present. Human impacts on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for future evolution of living species, including synchronous lithospheric evidence, or more hydrospheric and atmospheric evidence of human impacts. In July 2018, the International Union of Geological Sciences split the Holocene epoch into three distinct subsections, Greenlandian and Meghalayan, as proposed by International Commission on Stratigraphy.
The boundary stratotype of Meghalayan is a speleothem in Mawmluh cave in India, the global auxiliary stratotype is an ice core from Mount Logan in Canada. The name Holocene comes from the Ancient Greek words ὅλος and καινός, meaning "entirely recent", it is accepted by the International Commission on Stratigraphy that the Holocene started 11,650 cal years BP. The Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy quotes Gibbard and van Kolfschoten in Gradstein Ogg and Smith in stating the term'Recent' as an alternative to Holocene is invalid and should not be used and observe that the term Flandrian, derived from marine transgression sediments on the Flanders coast of Belgium has been used as a synonym for Holocene by authors who consider the last 10,000 years should have the same stage-status as previous interglacial events and thus be included in the Pleistocene; the International Commission on Stratigraphy, considers the Holocene an epoch following the Pleistocene and the last glacial period. Local names for the last glacial period include the Wisconsinan in North America, the Weichselian in Europe, the Devensian in Britain, the Llanquihue in Chile and the Otiran in New Zealand.
The Holocene can be subdivided into five time intervals, or chronozones, based on climatic fluctuations: Preboreal, Atlantic and Subatlantic. Note: "ka" means "kilo-annum" Before Present, i.e. 1,000 years before 1950 The Blytt–Sernander classification of climatic periods defined by plant remains in peat mosses, is being explored. Geologists working in different regions are studying sea levels, peat bogs and ice core samples by a variety of methods, with a view toward further verifying and refining the Blytt–Sernander sequence, they find a general correspondence across Eurasia and North America, though the method was once thought to be of no interest. The scheme was defined for Northern Europe, but the climate changes were claimed to occur more widely; the periods of the scheme include a few of the final pre-Holocene oscillations of the last glacial period and classify climates of more recent prehistory. Paleontologists have not defined any faunal stages for the Holocene. If subdivision is necessary, periods of human technological development, such as the Mesolithic and Bronze Age, are used.
However, the time periods referenced by these terms vary with the emergence of those technologies in different parts of the world. Climatically, the Holocene may be divided evenly into the Neoglacial periods. According to some scholars, a third division, the Anthropocene, has now begun; the International Commission on Stratigraphy Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy’s working group on the'Anthropocene' note this term is used to denote the present time interval in which many geologically significant conditions and processes have been profoundly altered by human activities. The'Anthropocene' is not a formally defined geological unit. Continental motions due to plate tectonics are less than a kilometre over a span of only 10,000 years. However, ice melt caused world sea levels to rise about 35 m in the early part of the Holocene. In addition, many areas above about 40 degrees north latitude had been depressed by the weight of the Pleistocene glaciers and rose as much as 180 m due to post-glacial rebound over the late Pleistocene and Holocene, are still rising today.
The sea level rise and temporary land depression allowed temporary marine incursions into areas that are now far from the sea. Holocene marine fossils are known, from Vermont and Michigan. Other than higher-latitude temporary marine incursions associated with glacial depression, Holocene fossils are found in lakebed and cave deposits. Holocene marine deposits along low-latitude coastlines are rare because the rise in sea levels during the period exceeds any tectonic uplift of non-glacial origin. Post-glacial rebound in the Scandinavia region resulted in the formation of the Baltic Sea; the region continues to rise, still causing weak earthquakes across Northern Europe. The equivalent event in North America was the rebound of Hudson Bay, as it shrank from its larger, immediate post-glacial Tyrrell Sea phase, to near its present boundaries. Climate has been stable over the Holocene. Ice core
The Paleoarchean spelled Palaeoarchaean, is a geologic era within the Archaean Eon. It spans the period of time 3,600 to 3,200 million years ago—the era is defined chronometrically and is not referenced to a specific level of a rock section on Earth; the name derives from Greek "Palaios" ancient. The oldest ascertained life form of fossilized bacteria in microbial mats, 3,480 million years old, found in Western Australia, is from this era; the first supercontinent Vaalbara formed during this period. During this era, a large asteroid, about 37 to 58 kilometres wide, collided with the Earth in the area of South Africa about 3.26 billion years ago, creating the features known as the Barberton greenstone belt
The Mesozoic Era is an interval of geological time from about 252 to 66 million years ago. It is called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers; the Mesozoic is one of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon, preceded by the Paleozoic and succeeded by the Cenozoic. The era is subdivided into three major periods: the Triassic and Cretaceous, which are further subdivided into a number of epochs and stages; the era began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest well-documented mass extinction in Earth's history, ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, another mass extinction whose victims included the non-avian dinosaurs. The Mesozoic was a time of significant tectonic and evolutionary activity; the era witnessed the gradual rifting of the supercontinent Pangaea into separate landmasses that would move into their current positions during the next era. The climate of the Mesozoic was varied, alternating between cooling periods. Overall, the Earth was hotter than it is today.
Dinosaurs first appeared in the Mid-Triassic, became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates in the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic, occupying this position for about 150 or 135 million years until their demise at the end of the Cretaceous. Birds first appeared in the Jurassic; the first mammals appeared during the Mesozoic, but would remain small—less than 15 kg —until the Cenozoic. The flowering plants arose in the Triassic or Jurassic and came to prominence in the late Cretaceous when they replaced the conifers and other gymnosperms as the dominant trees; the phrase "Age of Reptiles" was introduced by the 19th century paleontologist Gideon Mantell who viewed it as dominated by diapsids such as Iguanodon, Megalosaurus and Pterodactylus. Mesozoic means "middle life", deriving from the Greek prefix meso-/μεσο- for "between" and zōon/ζῷον meaning "animal" or "living being"; the name "Mesozoic" was proposed in 1840 by the British geologist John Phillips. Following the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic extended 186 million years, from 251.902 to 66 million years ago when the Cenozoic Era began.
This time frame is separated into three geologic periods. From oldest to youngest: Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous The lower boundary of the Mesozoic is set by the Permian–Triassic extinction event, during which 90% to 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrates became extinct, it is known as the "Great Dying" because it is considered the largest mass extinction in the Earth's history. The upper boundary of the Mesozoic is set at the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, which may have been caused by an asteroid impactor that created Chicxulub Crater on the Yucatán Peninsula. Towards the Late Cretaceous, large volcanic eruptions are believed to have contributed to the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. 50% of all genera became extinct, including all of the non-avian dinosaurs. The Triassic ranges from 252 million to 201 million years ago, preceding the Jurassic Period; the period is bracketed between the Permian–Triassic extinction event and the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, two of the "big five", it is divided into three major epochs: Early and Late Triassic.
The Early Triassic, about 252 to 247 million years ago, was dominated by deserts in the interior of the Pangaea supercontinent. The Earth had just witnessed a massive die-off in which 95% of all life became extinct, the most common vertebrate life on land were lystrosaurus and euparkeria along with many other creatures that managed to survive the Permian extinction. Temnospondyls would be the dominant predator for much of the Triassic; the Middle Triassic, from 247 to 237 million years ago, featured the beginnings of the breakup of Pangaea and the opening of the Tethys Sea. Ecosystems had recovered from the Permian extinction. Algae, sponge and crustaceans all had recovered, new aquatic reptiles evolved, such as ichthyosaurs and nothosaurs. On land, pine forests flourished, as did groups of insects like mosquitoes and fruit flies. Reptiles began to get bigger and bigger, the first crocodilians and dinosaurs evolved, which sparked competition with the large amphibians that had ruled the freshwater world mammal-like reptiles on land.
Following the bloom of the Middle Triassic, the Late Triassic, from 237 to 201 million years ago, featured frequent heat spells and moderate precipitation. The recent warming led to a boom of dinosaurian evolution on land as those one began to separate from each other, as well as first pterosaurs. During the Late Triassic, some advanced cynodonts gave rise to the first Mammaliaformes. All this climatic change, resulted in a large die-out known as the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, in which many archosaurs, most synapsids, all large amphibians became extinct, as well as 34% of marine life, in the Earth's fourth mass extinction event; the cause is debatable. The Jurassic ranges from 200 million years to 145 million years ago and features three major epochs: The Early Jurassic, the Middle Jurassic, the L
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 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
The Hadean is a geologic eon of the Earth pre-dating the Archean. It began with the formation of the Earth about 4.6 billion years ago and ended, as defined by the ICS, 4 billion years ago. As of 2016, the ICS describes its status as "informal". Geologist Preston Cloud coined the term in 1972 to label the period before the earliest-known rocks on Earth. W. Brian Harland coined an synonymous term, the "Priscoan period", from priscus, the Latin word for "ancient". Other, older texts refer to the eon as the Pre-Archean. "Hadean" describes the hellish conditions prevailing on Earth: the planet had just formed and was still hot owing to its recent accretion, the abundance of short-lived radioactive elements, frequent collisions with other Solar System bodies. Since few geological traces of this eon remain on Earth, there is no official subdivision. However, the Lunar geologic timescale embraces several major divisions relating to the Hadean, so these are sometimes used in an informal sense to refer to the same periods of time on Earth.
The Lunar divisions are: Pre-Nectarian, from the formation of the Moon's crust up to about 3,920 million years ago. Nectarian ranging from 3,920 million years ago up to about 3,850 million years ago, in a time when the Late Heavy Bombardment, according to that theory, was in a stage of decline. In 2010, an alternative scale was proposed that includes the addition of the Chaotian and Prenephelean Eons preceding the Hadean, divides the Hadean into three eras with two periods each; the Paleohadean era consists of the Jacobian periods. The Mesohadean is divided into the Procrustean periods; the Neohadean is divided into the Promethean periods. As of February 2017, this has not been adopted by the IUGS. In the last decades of the 20th century geologists identified a few Hadean rocks from western Greenland, northwestern Canada, Western Australia. In 2015, traces of carbon minerals interpreted as "remains of biotic life" were found in 4.1-billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia. The oldest dated zircon crystals, enclosed in a metamorphosed sandstone conglomerate in the Jack Hills of the Narryer Gneiss Terrane of Western Australia, date to 4.404 ± 0.008 Ga.
This zircon is a slight outlier, with the oldest consistently-dated zircon falling closer to 4.35 Ga—around 200 million years after the hypothesized time of the Earth's formation. In many other areas, xenocryst Hadean zircons enclosed in older rocks indicate that younger rocks have formed on older terranes and have incorporated some of the older material. One example occurs in the Guiana shield from the Iwokrama Formation of southern Guyana where zircon cores have been dated at 4.22 Ga. A sizable quantity of water would have been in the material. Water molecules would have escaped Earth's gravity more when it was less massive during its formation. Hydrogen and helium are expected to continually escape due to atmospheric escape. Part of the ancient planet is theorized to have been disrupted by the impact that created the Moon, which should have caused melting of one or two large regions of the Earth. Earth's present composition suggests that there was not complete remelting as it is difficult to melt and mix huge rock masses.
However, a fair fraction of material should have been vaporized by this impact, creating a rock vapor atmosphere around the young planet. The rock vapor would have condensed within two thousand years, leaving behind hot volatiles which resulted in a heavy CO2 atmosphere with hydrogen and water vapor. Liquid water oceans existed despite the surface temperature of 230 °C because at an atmospheric pressure of above 27 atmospheres, caused by the heavy CO2 atmosphere, water is still liquid; as cooling continued and dissolving in ocean water removed most CO2 from the atmosphere but levels oscillated wildly as new surface and mantle cycles appeared. Studies of zircons have found that liquid water must have existed as long ago as 4.4 billion years ago soon after the formation of the Earth. This requires the presence of an atmosphere; the cool early Earth theory covers a range from about 4.4 to about 4.1 billion years. A September 2008 study of zircons found that Australian Hadean rock holds minerals pointing to the existence of plate tectonics as early as 4 billion years.
If this is true, the time when Earth finished its transition from having a hot, molten surface and atmosphere full of carbon dioxide, to being much like it is today, can be dated to about 4.0 billion years ago. The actions of plate tectonics and the oceans trapped vast amounts of carbon dioxide, thereby reducing the greenhouse effect and leading to a much cooler surface temperature and the formation of solid rock, even life. Chaotian – Proposed era of, or eon preceding, the Hadean eon Formation and evolution of the Solar System – Formation of the Solar System by gravitational collapse of a molecular cloud and subsequent geological history Hadean zircon – The oldest-surviving crustal material from the Earth's earliest geological time period History of Earth – The development of planet Earth from its formation to the present day – the first sections describe the formation of the Earth Oldest dated rocks – Includes rocks over 4 billion years old from the Hadean Eon Precambrian – The earliest part of Earth's history Timeline of natural history Hopkins, Michelle.
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