Holocene epoch

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Related to Holocene epoch: Miocene epoch, Recent epoch, Pleistocene epoch

Holocene epoch

Holocene epoch (hŏlˈəsēn) or Recent epoch, most recent of all subdivisions of geologic time, ranging from the present back to the time (c.11,000 years ago) of almost complete withdrawal of the glaciers of the preceding Pleistocene epoch. During the Holocene epoch, the sculpturing of the earth's surface to its present form was completed. Withdrawal of the glacial ice resulted in the development of the present-day drainage basins of the Missouri and Ohio rivers, the development of the Great Lakes, and a global rise in sea level of up to 100 ft (30 m) as the glacial meltwater was returned to the seas. Warming climates resulted in the poleward migration of plants and animals.

The most significant development during the Holocene was the rise of modern humans, who are thought to have first appeared in the late Pleistocene. All of the races of modern humans were fully developed, with eventual worldwide distribution. Human culture developed during this epoch from a primitive one to the complex industrial society of today, in which humans themselves have become a significant factor in altering the earth's surface environment. As a result of extensive human influence on the environment, some have argued that “Anthropocene epoch” should be used instead of Holocene epoch for recent time, but the term has not been formally accepted by geologists. There has been disagreement even among advocates of the use of the term concerning when the Anthropocene should be considered to have begun, with some suggesting that the entire Holocene Epoch be renamed, and others suggesting that the Anthropocene began c.A.D. 900 or with the Industrial Revolution. In 2019 a working group recommended that the International Geological Congress declare the Anthropocene Epoch, with a beginning date of c.1950; a final decision will be made after the working group determines the geological markers for the epoch.

See Geologic Timescale (table).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Holocene Epoch


the Postglacial epoch, the contemporary geological epoch containing the existing, still unended section of the Antropogenic (Quaternary) period of earth’s geologic history. The beginning of the Holocene epoch coincided with the last continental glaciation in northern Europe, and it is considered to date from the glacier’s retreat from the Salpausselkä recessional moraines in southern Finland, which began about 10,000 years ago. The Holocene epoch is divided into sections corresponding to the successive stages of changes in climate, which are established primarily by studying remains of vegetation in contemporary peat bogs. During the Holocene epoch dry land and oceans took on their present outlines, geographic zones were established, and the floodplain terraces of rivers were formed. Almost two-thirds of the Holocene epoch has occurred in historic times.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Several scientific studies indicate that the prairie climate was distinctly warmer and drier during the middle portion of the Holocene Epoch. In Lake Manitoba, fluctuating periods of wet and dry conditions occurred between 9,200 and 4,500 years ago.
The (https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/florida-vertebrate-fossils/species/tremarctos-floridanus) Florida Museum of Natural History was probably a herbivore and lived during the late Pleistocene Epoch, a period of time spanning about 2.6 million years ago to almost 12,000 years ago when the current Holocene Epoch began.
That was the start of the Holocene epoch, a phase we believe ourselves to be in presently.
Using this method the researchers were able to construct a temperature chart stretching back 11,300 years - back to the beginning of the Holocene epoch. The Holocene began with the end of the last ice age, and coincides with the emergence of human civilization.
An unofficial term designating the geologic epoch in which we live, the "Age of Man." Because humans are having widespread effects on the planet that can be measured in the geologic record, the International Commission on Stratigraphy is investigating whether the current Holocene epoch should end and an Anthropocene epoch begin.
"Have they been sufficient to significantly alter the nature of the sediments now being accumulated at present, and are they distinctive from the existing Holocene Epoch that started at the end of the last ice age?
During this period, from 10,800 to 10,300 years ago, the globe shivered through one final cold spell before entering the warm Holocene epoch, according to standard wisdom.
Such a revision would have the beginning of the calendar coincide with the start of the current geologic time period, the Holocene epoch. This time has important worldwide significance because it marks the end of the last ice age and the beginning of agriculture, says Emiliani, who organized a session of historians and scientists to discuss the idea.
Researchers have usually considered the current geologic time period, the Holocene epoch, immune to the wild temperature shifts of the last ice age, which ended 10,000 years ago.