A Virtual Microscope Through Time


Geological Timescale

A Virtual Microscope Through Time uses a freely available geological timescale constructed by Richard S. Murphy.

Geological time can be measured in a multitude of ways, but the most precise figures are obtained using radiometric dating methods - the science of geochronology. Time has been broken up into Eons, Eras, Periods, Epochs and Ages by geochronologists and these match very well with chronostratigraphic methods (using fossil evidence). All the events in Earth history can be placed into one of the categories above. Note how the divisions of time become smaller and smaller as the evolution of life progresses, such that the most recent divisions only span a few thousand years. At the other end of the time frame the Hadean Eon covers 800 million years. This is simply a reflection that as time goes on evolutionary processes leave more evidence and it becomes easier to make meaningful sub-divisions.

The enormity of time on a geological scale is almost impossible to comprehend, but if you want more information on how time has been divided, from the birth of the solar system (see our earliest sample) to the present day, then here is a good place to start.

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