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Dating quaternary sediments
However, no decision was made to equate the beginning of the Pleistocene Epoch to the beginning of the Quaternary Period, and indeed the very status of the Quaternary as a period within the geologic time scale had come into question.
A 54-m long core was raised from the bed of the Nal Sarovar, a large shallow lake located in the middle of the low-lying region linking the Gulfs of Kachchh and Khambhat, in western India.
A three-layer sequence comprising: Zone-1 (top 3 m), predominantly silty-clay/clayey; Zone-2 (3–18 m), sandy; and Zone-3 (18–54 m), dominated by sticky silty-clay/clayey-silt with occasional thin sand layers and basalt fragments was identified.
In 2009 the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) officially ratified the decision to set the beginning of the Quaternary at 2,588,000 years ago, a time when rock strata show extensive evidence of widespread expansion of ice sheets over the northern continents and the beginning of an era of dramatic climatic and oceanographic change.
This time is coincident with the beginning of the Gelasian Age, which was officially designated by the IUGS and the ICS in 2009 as the lowermost stage of the Pleistocene Epoch.
These variations in turn have driven rapid changes in life-forms, both flora and fauna.
Beginning some 200,000 years ago, they were responsible for the rise of modern humans.
The Quaternary is one of the best-studied parts of the geologic record.
In part this is because it is well preserved in comparison with the other periods of geologic time.
In 2005 the ICS decided to recommend keeping the Tertiary and Quaternary in the time scale, but only as informal sub-eras of the Cenozoic.
The ICS abandoned the sub-era structure in 2008, deciding instead to formally designate the Quaternary as the uppermost period of the Cenozoic Era, following the aforementioned Paleogene and Neogene periods.