Pliocene epoch


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

See also: Geologic Timescale (table)Geologic Timescale
Era Period Epoch Approximate duration
(millions of years)
Approximate number of years ago
(millions of years)

Cenozoic Quaternary Holocene 10,000 years ago to the present  
Pleistocene 2 .
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Pliocene epoch

(plī`əsēn), fifth epoch of the Cenozoic eraCenozoic era
, last major division of geologic time (see Geologic Timescale, table) lasting from 65 million years ago to the present. The Cenozoic is divided into the Tertiary (from 65 million years ago until 2 million years ago) and Quaternary (2 million years ago to the
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 of geologic time (see Geologic TimescaleGeologic Timescale
Era Period Epoch Approximate duration
(millions of years)
Approximate number of years ago
(millions of years)

Cenozoic Quaternary Holocene 10,000 years ago to the present  
Pleistocene 2 .
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, table), from 5.1 to 2 million years ago. By the beginning of the Pliocene, the outlines of North America were almost the same as in recent time. Encroachments by the sea were limited to a narrow strip along the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Gulf Coast states, and an embayment, smaller than that of the preceding Miocene epochMiocene epoch
, fourth epoch of the Tertiary period in the Cenozoic era of geologic time (see Geologic Timescale, table), lasting from around 24.6 to 5.1 million years ago.
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, in California. The Pliocene formations on the Atlantic coast are chiefly marine marls; on the Gulf they are nonmarine sediments resulting from erosion. In California they contain much volcanic ash and some are oil-bearing. The Pliocene formations of the western interior are small and scattered. In western interior North America and on the west coast, volcanic activity continued into the Pliocene from the Miocene. The close of the Pliocene was marked in North America by the Cascadian revolution, in the course of which the Sierra Nevada was elevated and tilted to the west. The Cascades, Rockies, Appalachians, and the Colorado plateau were uplifted, and there was activity in the mountains of Alaska and in the Great Basin ranges of Nevada and Utah. In Europe the Pliocene sea covered small parts of the northwest of the continent and a large area around the present Mediterranean; a number of volcanoes were active, among them Vesuvius and Etna. There was considerable mountain building, including the folding and thrusting of the Alps. The climate of the Pliocene was cooler and drier than that of the Miocene and foreshadowed the glacial climates of the Pleistocene epochPleistocene epoch
, 6th epoch of the Cenozoic era of geologic time (see Geologic Timescale, table). According to a classification that considered its deposits to have been formed by the biblical great flood, the epoch was originally called the Quaternary.
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, but it was also generally warmer than the modern climate. During the mid-Pliocene, when the climate was at its warmest, temperatures were quite mild in the higher latitudes, and sea levels as much as 80 ft (25 m) higher than at present. The life of the Pliocene was notable for its modern appearance; the Pliocene marked the climax, and perhaps the initial decline, of the supremacy of the mammals.
References in periodicals archive ?
2] concentration was as high was during the Pliocene epoch, 5.
During the Pliocene Epoch, the status of sea levels 2.
Two novel geochemical techniques used to determine the temperature at which the mollusk shells were formed suggest that summertime Arctic temperatures during the early Pliocene epoch (3.
The tiger then began to evolve into a unique species toward the end of the Pliocene epoch, about 3.
They claimed that much of Antarctica melted away 3 million years ago, during a warm period in the Pliocene epoch.