Welcome to the Anthropocene Epoch

Several scientists are now suggesting that we have entered the Anthropocene Epoch. That seems a radical departure from a rather odd timescale in my opinion.

The Geologic Time Scale provides scientists with a frame of reference that seems like a mishmash of names to the rest of us. The GTS is both hierarchical and segmented within the hierarchies. People have drawn all sorts of pretty charts and written reams of books on the subject, explaining the system, of which I have yet to make heads or tales.

It appears to be based on changes in rock strata (hence, the word Geologic in the system’s name). The proposed name for the new era, Anthropocene, suggests that Man is responsible for changing the formation of rocks (an event that, I suppose, won’t be documented for millions of years).

The proposed name change is related to the fact that we’re about to enter a global climactic crisis that may result in a Sixth Mass Extinction of Life on Earth (including, possibly, humankind).

The Geologic Time Scale hierarchies are:

  1. SuperEons
  2. Eons
  3. Eras
  4. Periods
  5. Epochs
  6. Ages

We are, technically, at the tail end of the latest confirmed Epoch — the Holocene Epoch, which began about 12-15,000 years ago when the great ice sheets of the north began retreating.

I cannot find any agreement between online sources on what SuperEon or Age we are currently in, and frankly there are so many names in the various tables I don’t have the patience to type them all out into a nice ordered list.

Any time you see something like “Cambrian” you’re talking about a time frame of around 540 milllion years ago. Pre-Cambrian (the previous SuperEon, of which there are so far only two) events are more than 542 million years old.

For reasons I don’t know, the Cambrian was a Period rather than a SuperEon (so much for science being well organized and rational).

The Atlantic Age ended about 4,000 years ago (after lasting about 4,000 years). I have no idea of what Age we’re supposed to be in — perhaps the Ages of the Sun? (That’s a Tolkien/David Day joke.)

I can confirm through numerous sources that we are currently in the Holocene Epoch, Quarternary Period, Cenozoic Era, Phanerozoic Eon, and some nameless SuperEon.

You would think that with all the thought that had gone into naming these various geohistorical periods, someone would have remembered to name the current SuperEon. Perhaps there was too much politicking. I don’t know.

I suggest we call it the Martinez SuperEon — I have the ego to match it.

So, welcome to the tail end of the Martinez SuperEon. I have not yet decided whether to include the Anthropocene Epoch in it. I doubt anyone else has that figured out yet, either.


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