Chronozone or chron is a term used for a time interval in chronostratigraphy, defined by events such as geomagnetic reversals (magnetozones), or based on the presence of specific fossils (biozone or biochronozone). According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the term "chronozone" refers to the rocks formed during a particular time period, while "chron" refers to that time period.[2]

Identification and acceptance of chronozones as useful markers or benchmarks of time in the rock record, are non-hierarchical in that chronozones do not need to correspond across geographic or geologic boundaries, nor be equal in length (despite an early constraint that one be defined as smaller than a geological stage. An early use was hierarchical in that Harland et al. (1989) used "chronozone" for the slice of time smaller than a faunal stage defined in biostratigraphy. [3] The ICS has superseded this usage.

The key factor in designating an internationally acceptable chronozone is whether the overall fossil column is clear, unambiguous, and widespread. Some accepted chronozones contain others, and certain larger chronozones have been designated which span whole defined geological time units, both large and small. For example, the chronozone Pliocene is a subset of the chronozone Neogene, and the chronozone Pleistocene is a subset of the chronozone Quaternary.

Units in geochronology and stratigraphy[1]
Segments of rock (strata) in chronostratigraphy Time spans in geochronology Notes to
geochronological units
Eonothem Eon 4 total, half a billion years or more
Erathem Era 10 defined, several hundred million years
System Period 22 defined, tens to ~one hundred million years
Series Epoch 34 defined, tens of millions of years
Stage Age 99 defined, millions of years
Chronozone Chron subdivision of an age, not used by the ICS timescale

See also


  1. ^ Cohen, K.M.; Finney, S.; Gibbard, P.L. (2015), International Chronostratigraphic Chart (PDF), International Commission on Stratigraphy.
  2. ^ "Magnetostratigraphic polarity units" International Commission on Stratigraphy
  3. ^ An early use in Harland, W.B., Armstrong, R.L., Cox, A.V., Craig, L.E., Smith, A.G., and Smith, D.G. (1989) A Geologic Time Scale Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge

External links

Age (geology)

A geologic age is a subdivision of geologic time that divides an epoch into smaller parts. A succession of rock strata laid down in a single age on the geologic timescale is a stage.


In the geologic timescale, the Anisian is the lower stage or earliest age of the Middle Triassic series or epoch and lasted from 247.2 million years ago until 242 million years ago. The Anisian age succeeds the Olenekian age (part of the Lower Triassic epoch) and precedes the Ladinian age.

Aquitanian (stage)

The Aquitanian is, in the ICS' geologic timescale, the oldest age or lowest stage in the Miocene. It spans the time between 23.03 ± 0.05 Ma and 20.43 ± 0.05 Ma (million years ago) during the Early Miocene. It is a dry, cooling period. The Aquitanian succeeds the Chattian (the youngest age of the Oligocene) and precedes the Burdigalian.

The Aquitanian age overlaps with the Harrisonian, Agenian, Pareora, Landon, Otaian, and Waitakian ages from various regional timescales.

Atlantic (period)

The Atlantic in palaeoclimatology was the warmest and moistest Blytt-Sernander period, pollen zone and chronozone of Holocene northern Europe. The climate was generally warmer than today. It was preceded by the Boreal, with a climate similar to today’s, and was followed by the Subboreal, a transition to the modern. Because it was the warmest period of the Holocene, the Atlantic is often referenced more directly as the Holocene climatic optimum, or just climatic optimum.


Avalonnectes is an extinct genus of small-bodied rhomaleosaurid known from the Early Jurassic period (most likely earliest Hettangian stage) of the United Kingdom. It contains a single species, A. arturi.


The Burdigalian is, in the geologic timescale, an age or stage in the early Miocene. It spans the time between 20.43 ± 0.05 Ma and 15.97 ± 0.05 Ma (million years ago). Preceded by the Aquitanian, the Burdigalian was the first and longest warming period of the Miocene and is succeeded by the Langhian.


The Coniacian is an age or stage in the geologic timescale. It is a subdivision of the Late Cretaceous epoch or Upper Cretaceous series and spans the time between 89.8 ± 1 Ma and 86.3 ± 0.7 Ma (million years ago). The Coniacian is preceded by the Turonian and followed by the Santonian.


Eoplesiosaurus is an extinct genus of basal plesiosauroid known from the Early Jurassic period (most likely earliest Hettangian stage) of the United Kingdom. It contains a single species, E. antiquior.


The Gelasian is an age in the international geologic timescale or a stage in chronostratigraphy, being the earliest or lowest subdivision of the Quaternary period/system and Pleistocene epoch/series. It spans the time between 2.588 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago) and 1.806 ± 0.005 Ma. It follows the Piacenzian stage (part of the Pliocene) and is followed by the Calabrian stage.

Geological period

A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place.

These periods form elements of a hierarchy of divisions into which geologists have split the Earth's history.

Eons and eras are larger subdivisions than periods while periods themselves may be divided into epochs and ages.

The rocks formed during a period belong to a stratigraphic unit called a system.

Jaramillo reversal

The Jaramillo reversal was a reversal and excursion of the Earth's magnetic field that occurred approximately one million years ago. In the geological time scale it was a "short-term" positive reversal in the then-dominant Matuyama reversed magnetic chronozone; its beginning is widely dated to 990,000 years before the present (BP), and its end to 950,000 BP (though an alternative date of 1.07 million years ago to 990,000 is also found in the scientific literature).The causes and mechanisms of short-term reversals and excursions like the Jaramillo, as well as the major field reversals like the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, are subjects of study and dispute among researchers. One theory associates the Jaramillo with the Bosumtwi impact event, as evidenced by a tektite strewnfield in the Ivory Coast, though this hypothesis has been claimed as "highly speculative" and "refuted".


The Langhian is, in the ICS geologic timescale, an age or stage in the middle Miocene epoch/series. It spans the time between 15.97 ± 0.05 Ma and 13.65 ± 0.05 Ma (million years ago) during the Middle Miocene.The Langhian was a continuing warming period defined by Lorenzo Pareto in 1865, it was originally established in the Langhe area north of Ceva in northern Italy, hence the name. The Langhian is preceded by the Burdigalian and followed by the Serravallian stage.

List of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points

This is a list of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points. Since 1977, Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (abbreviated GSSPs) are internationally agreed upon reference points on stratigraphic sections of rock which define the lower boundaries of stages on the geologic time scale. They are selected by the International Commission on Stratigraphy based on multiple factors, but their accessibility and the degree to which they are representative of the same boundary on sections worldwide are among the most important.

Since GSSPs require well-preserved sections of rock without interruptions in sedimentation, and since most are defined by different stages of animal life, defining them becomes progressively more difficult as one goes further back in time.


The Messinian is in the geologic timescale the last age or uppermost stage of the Miocene. It spans the time between 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma and 5.333 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). It follows the Tortonian and is followed by the Zanclean, the first age of the Pliocene.

The Messinian overlaps the Turolian European Land Mammal Mega Zone (more precise MN 12 and 13) and the Pontian Central European Paratethys stage. It also overlaps the late Huayquerian and early Montehermosan South American Land Mammal Ages, and falls inside the more extensive Hemphillian North American Land Mammal Age.

During the Messinian, around 6 million years ago, the Messinian salinity crisis took place, which brought about repeated desiccations of the Mediterranean Sea.


The Piacenzian is in the international geologic time scale the upper stage or latest age of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 3.6 ± 0.005 Ma and 2.588 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). The Piacenzian is after the Zanclean and is followed by the Gelasian (part of the Pleistocene).

The Piacenzian is roughly coeval with the European land mammal age MN 16, overlaps the late Chapadmalalan and early Uquian South American land mammal age and falls inside the more extensive Blancan North American land mammal age. It also correlates with the Astian, Redonian, Reuverian and Romanian regional stages of Europe. Some authorities describe the British Red Crag Formation and Waltonian stage as late Piacenzian, while others regard them as early Pleistocene.

Polarity chron

A polarity chron, or chron, is the time interval between polarity reversals of Earth's magnetic field. It is a term used in magnetostratigraphy (a branch of geology) to name the time interval represented by a magnetostratigraphic polarity unit. It represents a certain time period in geologic history where the Earth's magnetic field was in predominantly a "normal" or "reversed" position. Chrons are numbered in order starting from today and increasing in number into the past. As well as a number, each chron is divided into two parts, labelled "n" and "r", thereby showing the position of the field's polarity. A chron is the time equivalent to a chronozone or a polarity zone.

It is called a "polarity subchron" when the interval is less than 200,000 years long.


The Serravallian is in the geologic timescale an age or a stage in the middle Miocene epoch/series, that spans the time between 13.65 ± 0.05 Ma and 11.608 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). The Serravallian follows the Langhian and is followed by the Tortonian.It overlaps with the middle of the Astaracian European Land Mammal Mega Zone, the upper Barstovian and lower Clarendonian North American Land Mammal Ages and the Laventan and lower Mayoan South American Land Mammal Ages. It is also coeval with the Sarmatian and upper Badenian stages of the Paratethys time scale of Central and eastern Europe.


The Tortonian is in the geologic timescale an age or stage of the late Miocene that spans the time between 11.608 ± 0.005 Ma and 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). It follows the Serravallian and is followed by the Messinian.

The Tortonian roughly overlaps with the regional Pannonian stage of the Paratethys timescale of Central Europe. It also overlaps the upper Astaracian, Vallesian and lower Turolian European Land Mammal Mega Zones, the upper Clarendonian and lower Hemphillian North American Land Mammal Ages and the upper Chasicoan and lower Huayquerian South American Land Mammal Ages.


The Zanclean is the lowest stage or earliest age on the geologic time scale of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 5.332 ± 0.005 Ma and 3.6 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). It is preceded by the Messinian age of the Miocene epoch, and followed by the Piacenzian age.

The Zanclean can be correlated with regionally used stages, such as the Tabianian or Dacian of Central Europe. It also corresponds to the late Hemphillian to mid-Blancan North American Land Mammal Ages. In California, the Zanclean roughly corresponds to the mid-Delmontian Californian Stage of from 7.5 To 2.9 Ma ago.

Cenozoic era
(present–66.0 Mya)
Mesozoic era
(66.0–251.902 Mya)
Paleozoic era
(251.902–541.0 Mya)
Proterozoic eon
(541.0 Mya–2.5 Gya)
Archean eon (2.5–4 Gya)
Hadean eon (4–4.6 Gya)
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