geologic time, the extensive interval of time occupied by the Earth’s geologic history. It extends from about 3.9 billion years ago (corresponding to the age of the oldest known rocks) to the present day. It is, in effect, that segment of Earth history that is represented by and recorded in rock strata.
The geologic time scale is the “calendar” for events in Earth history. It subdivides all time since the end of the Earth’s formative period as a planet (nearly 4 billion years ago) into named units of abstract time: the latter, in descending order of duration, are eons, eras, periods, and epochs. The enumeration of these geologic time units is based on stratigraphy, which is the correlation and classification of rock strata. The fossil forms that occur in these rocks provide the chief means of establishing a geologic time scale. Because living things have undergone evolutionary changes over geologic time, particular kinds of organisms are characteristic of particular parts of the geologic record. By correlating the strata in which certain types of fossils are found, the geologic history of various regions (and of the Earth as a whole) can be reconstructed. The relative geologic time scale developed from the fossil record has been numerically quantified by means of absolute dates obtained with radiometric dating methods. See also geochronology.
- Fact Monster - Geological Time
- University of California, Berkeley: Museum of Paleontology - Web Geological Time Machine
- United States Geological Survey - Geologic TimeUSGS on-line publication about the relative and radiometric geologic time scales, age of the earth, index fossils, and related topics.
- Enchanted Learning - Geologic Time ScaleChart showing different geological eras. Includes an animated map showing continental drift.
- Exploring the Environment - Geologic TimeA kid-friendly explanation of deep time.
- Natural History Museum - Geological Time
- Kansas Geological Survey - Geologic Time
- Museum Victoria Australia - The geological time scale
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - The Geologic Timescale
- Ecotao Enterprises cc - Table of the Geological Time Scale
- The Virtual Fossil Museum
- Australian Museum - Australia’s Lost KingdomsExhibit from the Australian Museum covering Australia’s fossil history from 110 million years ago.
- The New Georgia Encyclopedia - Geologic History of Georgia
Articles from Britannica encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.
- geologic time - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11)
Geologic time is the billions of years since the planet Earth began developing. Scientists who study the structure and history of Earth are called geologists. Their field of study is called geology. Geologists study rocks and fossils, or remains of living things that have been preserved in the ground. The rocks and fossils tell the story of Earth from when its crust formed billions of years ago to the present. Geologists have mapped out a time scale that is a "calendar" of Earth’s geologic history.
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