New phase in Earth's history defined as 'Meghalayan Age'

Meghalayan age Yangtze River Stalactite Palestine Mesopotamia Meghalaya Isotope Geologic time scale Egypt Geologists

As per the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), we are now at the Meghalayan age, which is among the three newly christened ages that were put forward by IUGS on their July 13 announcement.

"The three new ages of the Holocene Epoch are represented by a wealth of sediment that accumulated worldwide on the sea floor, on lake bottoms, as glacial ice, and as calcite layers in stalactites and stalagmites". The Meghalayan Age is now the youngest of the three phases, stretching from 4,200 years ago until the present time.

The Meghalaya Age is said to be the newest unit of the Geologic Time Scale after many years of research.

These new stages come from the International Commission on Stratigraphy, or ICS, and they've created a bit of controversy in the scientific community.

The International Chronostratigraphic Chart, the famous diagram depicting the timeline for Earth's history (seen on many classroom walls) will be updated.

The Holocene Epoch comprises the last 11,700 years of our planet's 4.6-billion-year history.

Newsweek's Katherine Hignett reports that the former began 11,700 years ago and ended roughly 8,300 years ago, when the Northgrippian began; the Northgrippian lasted until the start of the Meghalayan Age.

The lower boundary of the Greenlandian and Northgripppian stages are defined at specific levels in Greenland ice cores. The onset for this age was an abrupt cooling, attributed to vast volumes of freshwater from melting glaciers in Canada running into the North Atlantic and disrupting ocean currents.

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The third and last phase of the Holocene, now known as the Meghalayan Age, propelled the planet into another warming stage, and actually started out with a global drought that lasted for two centuries.

This brand new classification is named after a particular rock formation that is found in a cave in northeast India.

"The isotopic shift reflects a 20 to 30 percent decrease in monsoon rainfall", geologist Mike Walker of the University of Wales explained to BBC News. This revealed that the planet experienced yet another massive change in its climate about 4,200 years ago, particularly at mid and low altitudes.

Local caver Brian D. Kharpran Daly, who accompanied the scientists from California to Krem Mawmluh, told The Shillong Times on Thursday that the first batch of scientists and researchers led by Ashish Sinha from California studied the cave in 2003 and later researcher Sebastian Breitenbach joined the team.

The most recent phase, The Meghalayan Age, is based on the evidence of the climatic event found in sedimentary records.

4,200 years ago, a sweeping mega-drought devastated agricultural societies across the globe, wiping out civilizations from Ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, Palestine and the Yangtze River Valley.

"This decision is a significant moment in the history of Holocene climate and archaeology science", said Yale University Professor Harvey Weiss.

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