What is ‘Meghalayan Age’? New phase in Earth’s history named after the Indian state

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New Delhi | July 19, 2018 5:03 PM

An international team of reseachers recently discovered a new geological time scale and named it after a North Eastern State of India, Meghalaya.

Meghalayan Age, North Eastern state, meghalaya, International Union of Geological Sciences, France, Middle Holocene Northgrippian Age, Early Holocene Greenlandian Age, Holocene Epoch, scienceA portion of an Indian stalagmite that defines the beginning of the Meghalayan Age. (Photo: IUGS)

An international team of researchers recently discovered a new geological time scale and named it after a North Eastern State of India, Meghalaya. Known as the ‘Meghalayan Age’, this time scale began 4,200 years ago and experienced an abrupt mega-drought and cooling around the globe, according to a PTI report. After collecting sediments from a stalagmite from a cave in Meghalaya, the international team of researchers defined smallest climatic event in Earth’s history.

Stanley Finney, a professor at Long Beach State University in the US and Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) in France, said that the Meghalayan Age is unique among the many intervals of the Geologic Time Scale in that its beginning coincides with a global cultural event produced by a global climatic event.

Evidence of the 4,200-year climatic event has been found on all seven continents. The agricultural-based societies that developed in several regions after the end of the last Ice Age were impacted severely by the 200-year climatic event that resulted in the collapse of civilisations and human migrations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley. After years of research, the Late Holocene Meghalayan Age was ratified as the most recent unit of the Geologic Time Scale.

The report said that the Middle Holocene Northgrippian Age and the Early Holocene Greenlandian Age with beginnings defined at climatic events that happened about 8,300 years and 11,700 years ago respectively were also approved. The three ages together comprise of the Holocene Epoch that represents the time since the end of the last Ice Age.

The responsibility for standardising the Geologic Time Scale falls with the International Commission on Stratigraphy that recently approved the definition of the beginning of the youngest unit of Geologic Time Scale based on the timing of this event.

The lower boundary of the Greenlandian and Northgripppian stages are defined at specific levels in Greenland ice cores. The lower boundary of the Meghalayan Stage is defined at a specific level in a stalagmite from a cave in northeast India, according to PTI.

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