An Astronomically Calibrated (Polarity) Time Scale for the Pliocene–Pleistocene: A Brief Review

  1. P. L. de Boer2 and
  2. D. G. Smith3
  1. F. J. Hilgen

Published Online: 29 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304039.ch10

Orbital Forcing and Cyclic Sequences

Orbital Forcing and Cyclic Sequences

How to Cite

Hilgen, F. J. (1994) An Astronomically Calibrated (Polarity) Time Scale for the Pliocene–Pleistocene: A Brief Review, in Orbital Forcing and Cyclic Sequences (eds P. L. de Boer and D. G. Smith), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304039.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Utrecht, The Netherlands

  2. 3

    London, UK

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology, Institute of Earth Sciences, State University of Utrecht, Budapestlaan 4, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 28 JAN 1994

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632037360

Online ISBN: 9781444304039



  • astronomically calibrated time scale for Pliocene–Pleistocene;
  • biostratigraphic datum planes;
  • temporal relationships;
  • sea-floor spreading rates;
  • Miocene and bipolar ice build up


This paper gives a brief review of the development of an astronomically calibrated (polarity) time scale (A(P)TS) with emphasis on the recent extension of this time scale from the late Pleistocene down to the Miocene/Pliocene boundary. This time scale is based on the calibration of sedimentary cycles, and other cyclic variations in climatic proxy records, to the astronomical time series of the quasi-periodic variations in the Earth's orbit and is independent of radiometric dating. The A(P)TS gives new ages for the Brunhes/Matuyama boundary (0.78 Ma vs. a conventional age of 0.73 Ma after Berggren et al., 1985), top Jaramillo (0.99 vs. 0.92), bottom Jaramillo (1.07 vs. 0.98), Cobb Mountain (1.19 vs. 1.10), top Olduvai (1.77 or 1.79 vs. 1.66), bottom Olduvai (1.95 vs. 1.88), Gauss/Matuyama boundary (2.60 vs. 2.47), top Kaena (3.04 vs. 2.92), bottom Kaena (3.11 vs. 2.99), top Mammoth (3.22 vs. 3.08), bottom Mammoth (3.33 vs. 3.18), Gilbert/Gauss boundary (3.58 vs. 3.40), top Cochiti (4.18 vs. 3.88), bottom Cochiti (4.29 vs. 3.97), top Nunivak (4.48 vs. 4.10), bottom Nunivak (4.62 vs. 4.24), top Sidufjall (4.80 vs. 4.40), bottom Sidufjall (4.89 vs. 4.47), top Thvera (4.98 vs. 4.57) and bottom Thvera (5.23 vs. 4.77). New ages for the Pliocene/Pleistocene and Miocene/Pliocene boundaries arrive at 1.81 (vs. 1.68) and 5.32 (vs. 4.86) Ma, respectively. Discrepancies with other astronomical time scales and existing conventional time scales will be briefly reviewed and discussed in the light of new radiometric datings based on the single-crystal laser-fusion technique. Finally, the importance and applications of the new time scale will be dealt with.