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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Walker, Mike, Head, Martin H., Berklehammer, Max, Bjorck, Svante, Cheng, Hai, Cwynar, Les, Fisher, David, Gkinis, Vasilos, Long, Antony, Lowe, John, Newnham, Rewi, Rasmussen, Sune Olander & Weiss, Harvey Formal ratification of the subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch (Quaternary System/Period): two new Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs) and three new stages/subseries. Episodes. 2018;41:213-223.

Author(s) from Durham


The Holocene is probably the most intensively studied series/epoch within the geological record, and embodies a wide array of geomorphological, climatic, biotic and archaeological evidence; yet little attention has hitherto been paid to a formal subdivision of this series/epoch. Here we report a tripartite division of the Holocene into the Greenlandian, Northgrippian and Meghalayan stages/ages and their corresponding Lower/Early, Middle, Upper/Late subseries/subepochs, each supported by a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). The GSSP for the lowermost stage, the Greenlandian, is that of the Holocene as previously defined in the NGRIP2 Greenland ice core, and dated at 11,700 yr b2k (before 2000 CE). The GSSP for the Northgrippian is in the NGRIP1 Greenland ice core, and dated at 8236 yr b2k, whereas that for the Meghalayan is located in a speleothem from Mawmluh Cave, Meghalaya, northeast India with a date of 4250 yr b2k. The proposal on which this subdivision is based was submitted by the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, approved by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, and formally ratified by the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences on 14th June 2018.

Department of Geography