Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Noah's Ark in Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian & Babylonian Lore, Part 7 - The LGM & Holocene Age

 Noah's Ark in Sumerian, Akkadian,
Assyrian & Babylonian Lore

Part 7 - The LGM & Holocene Age

by R.E. Slater

click to enlarge

What is LGM, Last Glacial Maximum
by Enlightenment
Sep w4, 2021

What is LGM (e,g,m Last Glacial Maximum) Ice age Glaciation re global climate,
sea level, ice core, Past glaciations. ice age, ice house, greenhouse gases?

A map of sea surface temperature changes and glacial extent during the last glacial maximum, according to Climate: Long range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction, a mapping project conducted by the National Science Foundation in the 1970s and 1980s

The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also referred to as the Last Glacial Coldest Period,[1] was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period that ice sheets were at their greatest extent 26,000 and 20,000 years ago.[2] Ice sheets covered much of Northern North AmericaNorthern Europe, and Asia and profoundly affected Earth's climate by causing a major expansion of deserts,[3] along with a large drop in sea levels.[4]

Based on changes in position of ice sheet margins dated via terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides and radiocarbon dating, growth of ice sheets in the southern hemisphere commenced 33,000 years ago and maximum coverage has been estimated to have occurred sometime between 26,500 years ago[1] and 20,000 years ago.[5] After this, deglaciation caused an abrupt rise in sea level. Decline of the West Antarctica ice sheet occurred between 14,000 and 15,000 years ago, consistent with evidence for another abrupt rise in the sea level about 14,500 years ago.[6][7] Glacier fluctuations around the Strait of Magellan suggest the peak in glacial surface area was constrained to between 25,200 and 23,100 years ago.[8]

There are no agreed dates for the beginning and end of the LGM, and researchers select dates depending on their criteria and the data set consulted. Jennifer French, an archeologist specialising in the European Palaeolithic, dates its onset at 27,500 years ago, with ice sheets at their maximum by around 26,000 years ago and deglaciation commencing between 20,000 and 19,000 years ago.[9] The LGM is referred to in Britain as the Dimlington Stadial, dated to between 31,000 and 16,000 years ago.[10][11]

Glacial climate

Temperature proxies for the last 40,000 years
A map of vegetation patterns during the last glacial maximum

The average global temperature around 19,000 BC (about 21,000 years ago) was about 6 °C (11 °F) colder than today.[12][13]

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), permanent summer ice covered about 8% of Earth's surface and 25% of the land area during the last glacial maximum.[14] The USGS also states that sea level was about 125 meters (410 ft) lower than in present times (2012).[14]

When comparing to the present, the average global temperature was 15 °C (59 °F) for the 2013–2017 period.[15] As of 2012 about 3.1% of Earth's surface and 10.7% of the land area is covered in year-round ice.[14]

Carbon sequestration in the highly stratified and productive Southern Ocean was essential in producing the LGM.[16] The formation of an ice sheet or ice cap requires both prolonged cold and precipitation (snow). Hence, despite having temperatures similar to those of glaciated areas in North America and EuropeEast Asia remained unglaciated except at higher elevations. This difference was because the ice sheets in Europe produced extensive anticyclones above them. These anticyclones generated air masses that were so dry on reaching Siberia and Manchuria that precipitation sufficient for the formation of glaciers could never occur (except in Kamchatka where these westerly winds lifted moisture from the Sea of Japan). The relative warmth of the Pacific Ocean due to the shutting down of the Oyashio Current and the presence of large east-west mountain ranges were secondary factors that prevented the development of continental glaciation in Asia.

All over the world, climates at the Last Glacial Maximum were cooler and almost everywhere drier. In extreme cases, such as South Australia and the Sahel, rainfall could have been diminished by up to 90% compared to the present, with flora diminished to almost the same degree as in glaciated areas of Europe and North America. Even in less affected regions, rainforest cover was greatly diminished, especially in West Africa where a few refugia were surrounded by tropical grasslands.

The Amazon rainforest was split into two large blocks by extensive savanna, and the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia probably were similarly affected, with deciduous forests expanding in their place except on the east and west extremities of the Sundaland shelf. Only in Central America and the Chocó region of Colombia did tropical rainforests remain substantially intact – probably due to the extraordinarily heavy rainfall of these regions.

Most of the world's deserts expanded. Exceptions were in what is the present-day Western United States, where changes in the jet stream brought heavy rain to areas that are now desert and large pluvial lakes formed, the best known being Lake Bonneville in Utah. This also occurred in Afghanistan and Iran, where a major lake formed in the Dasht-e Kavir.

In Australia, shifting sand dunes covered half the continent, while the Chaco and Pampas in South America became similarly dry. Present-day subtropical regions also lost most of their forest cover, notably in eastern Australia, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, and southern China, where open woodland became dominant due to much drier conditions. In northern China – unglaciated despite its cold climate – a mixture of grassland and tundra prevailed, and even here, the northern limit of tree growth was at least 20° farther south than today.

In the period before the LGM, many areas that became completely barren desert were wetter than they are today, notably in southern Australia, where Aboriginal occupation is believed to coincide with a wet period between 40,000 and 60,000 years Before Present (BP, a formal measurement of uncalibrated radiocarbon years, counted from 1950).

In New Zealand and neighbouring regions of the Pacific, temperatures may have been further depressed during part of the LGM by the world's most recent supervolcanic eruption, the Oruanui eruption, approximately 28,500 years BP.

However, it is estimated that during the LGM, low-to-mid latitude land surfaces at low elevation cooled on average by 5.8 °C relative to their present day temperatures, based on an analysis of noble gases dissolved in groundwater rather than examinations of species abundances that have been used in the past.[17]

World impact

During the Last Glacial Maximum, much of the world was cold, dry, and inhospitable, with frequent storms and a dust-laden atmosphere. The dustiness of the atmosphere is a prominent feature in ice cores; dust levels were as much as 20 to 25 times greater than they are in the present.[18] This was probably due to a number of factors: reduced vegetation, stronger global winds, and less precipitation to clear dust from the atmosphere.[18] The massive sheets of ice locked away water, lowering the sea level, exposing continental shelves, joining land masses together, and creating extensive coastal plains.[19] During the last glacial maximum, 21,000 years ago, the sea level was about 125 meters (about 410 feet) lower than it is today.[20][21]

Africa and the Middle East

In Africa and the Middle East, many smaller mountain glaciers formed, and the Sahara and other sandy deserts were greatly expanded in extent.[19] The Atlantic deep sea sediment core V22-196, extracted off the coast of Senegal, shows a major southward expansion of the Sahara.[22]

The Persian Gulf averages about 35 metres in depth and the seabed between Abu Dhabi and Qatar is even shallower, being mostly less than 15 metres deep. For thousands of years the Ur-Shatt (a confluence of the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers) provided fresh water to the Gulf, as it flowed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of OmanBathymetric data suggests there were two palaeo-basins in the Persian Gulf. The central basin may have approached an area of 20,000 km2, comparable at its fullest extent to lakes such as Lake Malawi in Africa. Between 12,000 and 9,000 years ago much of the Gulf's floor was not covered by water, only being flooded by the sea after 8,000 years ago.[23]

It is estimated that annual average temperatures in Southern Africa were 6 °C lower than at present during the Last Glacial Maximum. This temperature drop alone would however not have been enough to generate widespread glaciation or permafrost in the Drakensberg Mountains or the Lesotho Highlands.[24] Seasonal freezing of the ground in the Lesotho Highlands might have reached depths of 2 meter or more below the surface.[25] A few small glaciers did however develop during the Last Glacial Maximum, in particular in south-facing slopes.[24] In the Hex River Mountains, in the Western Cape, block streams and terraces found near the summit of Matroosberg evidences past periglacial activity which likely occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum.[26]

On the island of Mauritius in the Mascarenhas Archipelago, open wet forest vegetation dominated, contrasting with the dominantly closed-stratified-tall-forest state of Holocene Mauritian forests.[27]


A map showing the probable extent of land and water at the time of the last glacial maximum, 20,000 years ago and when the sea level was likely more than 110 metres lower than it is today.

There were ice sheets in modern Tibet (although scientists continue to debate the extent to which the Tibetan Plateau was covered with ice) as well as in Baltistan and Ladakh. In Southeast Asia, many smaller mountain glaciers formed, and permafrost covered Asia as far south as Beijing. Because of lowered sea levels, many of today's islands were joined to the continents: the Indonesian islands as far east as Borneo and Bali were connected to the Asian continent in a landmass called SundalandPalawan was also part of Sundaland, while the rest of the Philippine Islands formed one large island separated from the continent only by the Sibutu Passage and the Mindoro Strait.[28]

The environment along the coast of South China was not very different from that of the present day, featuring moist subtropical evergreen forests, despite sea levels in the South China Sea being about 100 metres lower than the present day.[29]


The Australian mainland, New GuineaTasmania and many smaller islands comprised a single land mass. This continent is now referred to sometimes as Sahul.

Between Sahul and Sundaland – a peninsula of South East Asia that comprised present-day Malaysia and western and northern Indonesia – there remained an archipelago of islands known as Wallacea. The water gaps between these islands, Sahul and Sundaland were considerably narrower and fewer in number than in the present day.

The two main islands of New Zealand, along with associated smaller islands, were joined as one landmass. Virtually all of the Southern Alps were under permanent ice cover, with alpine glaciers extending from them into much of the surrounding high country.[30]


The Last Glacial Maximum refugiac. 20,000 years ago
  Solutrean culture
  Epigravettian culture[31]

Northern Europe was largely covered by ice, with the southern boundary of the ice sheets passing through Germany and Poland. This ice extended northward to cover Svalbard and Franz Josef Land and northeastward to occupy the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, and Novaya Zemlya, ending at the Taymyr Peninsula in what is now northwestern Siberia.[32] Warming commenced in northern latitudes around 20,000 years ago, but it was limited and considerable warming did not take place until around 14,600 year ago.[33]

In northwestern Russia, the Fennoscandian ice sheet reached its LGM extent approximately 17,000 years ago, about five thousand years later than in Denmark, Germany and Western Poland. Outside the Baltic Shield, and in Russia in particular, the LGM ice margin of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet was highly lobate. The main LGM lobes of Russia followed the DvinaVologda and Rybinsk basins respectively. Lobes originated as result of ice following shallow topographic depressions filled with a soft sediment substrate.[34]

Permafrost covered Europe south of the ice sheet down to as far south as present-day Szeged in Southern Hungary. Ice covered the whole of Iceland.[35] In addition, ice covered Ireland and almost all of Wales, with the southern boundary of the ice sheet running approximately from the current location of Cardiff north-north-east to Middlesbrough, and then across the now submerged land of Doggerland to Denmark.[36]

In the Cantabrian Mountains of the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, which in the present day have no permanent glaciers, the LGM led to a local glacial recession as a result of increased aridity caused by the growth of other ice sheets farther to the east and north, which drastically limited annual snowfall over the mountains of northwestern Spain. The Cantabrian alpine glaciers had previously expanded between approximately 60,000 and 40,000 years ago during a local glacial maximum in the region.[37]

In northeastern Italy, in the region around Lake FimonArtemisia-dominated semideserts, steppes, and meadow-steppes replaced open boreal forests at the start of the LGM, specifically during Heinrich Stadial 3. The overall climate of the region became both drier and colder.[38]

In the Sar Mountains, the glacial equilibrium-line altitude was about 450 metres lower than in the Holocene.[39] In Greece, steppe vegetation predominated.[40]

Megafaunal abundance in Europe peaked around 27,000 and 21,000 BP; this bountifulness was attributable to the cold stadial climate.[41]

North America

Northern hemisphere glaciation during the last ice ages during which three to four kilometer-thick ice sheets caused a sea level lowering of about 120 m.

In Greenland, the difference between LGM temperatures and present temperatures was twice as great during winter as during summer. Greenhouse gas and insolation forcings dominated temperature changes in northern Greenland, whereas Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variability was the dominant influence on southern Greenland's climate.[42] Illorsuit Island was exclusively covered by cold-based glaciers.[43]

Following a preceding period of relative retreat from 52,000 to 40,000 years ago,[44] the Laurentide Ice Sheet grew rapidly at the onset of the LGM until it covered essentially all of Canada east of the Rocky Mountains and extended roughly to the Missouri and Ohio Rivers, and eastward to Manhattan,[45][46][47] reaching a total maximum volume of around 26.5 to 37 million cubic kilometres.[48][49][50] At its peak, the Laurentide Ice Sheet reached 3.2 km in height around Keewatin Dome and about 1.7-2.1 km along the Plains divide.[51] In addition to the large Cordilleran Ice Sheet in Canada and Montanaalpine glaciers advanced and (in some locations) ice caps covered much of the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains further south. Latitudinal gradients were so sharp that permafrost did not reach far south of the ice sheets except at high elevations. Glaciers forced the early human populations who had originally migrated from northeast Siberia into refugia, reshaping their genetic variation by mutation and drift. This phenomenon established the older haplogroups found among Native Americans, and later migrations are responsible for northern North American haplogroups.[52]

On the Island of Hawaii, geologists have long recognized deposits formed by glaciers on Mauna Kea during recent ice ages. The latest work indicates that deposits of three glacial episodes since 150,000 to 200,000 years ago are preserved on the volcano. Glacial moraines on the volcano formed about 70,000 years ago and from about 40,000 to 13,000 years ago. If glacial deposits were formed on Mauna Loa, they have long since been buried by younger lava flows.[53]

South America

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Patagonian Ice Sheet covered the whole southern third of Chile and adjacent areas of Argentina. On the western side of the Andes the ice sheet reached sea level as far north as in the 41 degrees south at Chacao Channel.[citation needed] The western coast of Patagonia was largely glaciated, but some authors have pointed out the possible existence of ice-free refugia for some plant species. On the eastern side of the Andes, glacier lobes occupied the depressions of Seno SkyringSeno OtwayInútil Bay, and Beagle Channel. On the Straits of Magellan, ice reached as far as Segunda Angostura.[54]

A map of the world during the Last Glacial Maximum

During the Last Glacial Maximum valley glaciers in the southern Andes (38–43° S) merged and descended from the Andes occupying lacustrine and marine basins where they spread out forming large piedmont glacier lobes. Glaciers extended about 7 km west of the modern Llanquihue Lake, but not more than 2 to 3 km south of it. Nahuel Huapi Lake in Argentina was also glaciated by the same time.[55] Over most of the Chiloé Archipelago, glacier advance peaked 26,000 years ago, forming a long north–south moraine system along the eastern coast of Chiloé Island (41.5–43° S). By that time the glaciation at the latitude of Chiloé was of ice sheet type contrasting to the valley glaciation found further north in Chile.[56]

Despite glacier advances much of the area west of Llanquihue Lake was still ice-free during the Last Glacial Maximum.[57][58] During the coldest period of the Last Glacial Maximum vegetation at this location was dominated by Alpine herbs in wide open surfaces. The global warming that followed caused a slow change in vegetation towards a sparsely distributed vegetation dominated by Nothofagus species.[57][58] Within this parkland vegetation Magellanic moorland alternated with Nothofagus forest, and as warming progressed even warm-climate trees began to grow in the area. It is estimated that the tree line was depressed about 1,000 m relative to present day elevations during the coldest period, but it rose gradually until 19,300 years ago. At that time a cold reversal caused a replacement of much of the arboreal vegetation with Magellanic moorland and Alpine species.[58]

Little is known about the extent of glaciers during Last Glacial Maximum north of the Chilean Lake District. To the north, in the dry Andes of Central and the Last Glacial Maximum is associated with increased humidity and the verified advance of at least some mountain glaciers.[59] In northwestern Argentina, pollen deposits record the altitudinal descent of the treeline during the LGM.[60]

Atlantic Ocean

AMOC was weaker and more shallow during the LGM.[61] Sea surface temperatures in the western subtropical gyre of the North Atlantic were around 5 °C colder compared to today. Intermediate depth waters of the North Atlantic were better ventilated during the LGM by Glacial North Atlantic Intermediate Water (GNAIW) relative to its present day ventilation by upper North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). GNAIW was nutrient poor compared to present day upper NADW. Below GNAIW, southern source bottom water that was very rich in nutrients filled the deep North Atlantic.[62]

Due to the presence of immense ice sheets in Europe and North America, continental weathering flux into the North Atlantic was reduced, as measured by the increased proportion of radiogenic isotopes in neodymium isotope ratios.[63]

In the western South Atlantic, where Antarctic Intermediate Water forms, sinking particle flux was heightened as a result of increased dust flux during the LGM and sustained export productivity. The increased sinking particle flux removed neodymium from shallow waters, producing an isotopic ratio change.[64]

Pacific Ocean

Low sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS) in the East China Sea during the LGM suggests the Kuroshio Current was reduced in strength relative to the present.[65] Abyssal Pacific overturning was weaker during the LGM than in the present day, although it was temporarily stronger during some intervals of ice sheet retreat.[66] The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was strong during the LGM.[67] Evidence suggests that the Peruvian Oxygen Minimum Zone in the eastern Pacific was weaker than it is in the present day, likely as a result of increased oxygen concentrations in seawater permitted by cooler ocean water temperatures, though it was similar in spatial extent.[68]

The outflow of North Pacific Intermediate Water through the Tasman Sea was stronger during the LGM.[69]

In the Great Barrier Reef along the coast of Queensland, reef development shifted seaward due to the precipitous drop in sea levels, reaching a maximum distance from the present coastline as sea levels approached their lowest levels around 20,700-20,500 years ago.[70]

Indian Ocean

The intermediate waters of the southeastern Arabian Sea were poorly ventilated relative to today because of the weakened thermohaline circulation.[71]

Southern Ocean

Evidence from sediment cores in the Scotia Sea suggests the Antarctic Circumpolar Current was weaker during the LGM than during the Holocene.[72]

Late Glacial Period

The Late Glacial Period followed the LGM and preceded the Holocene, which started around 11,700 years ago.[73]

* * * * * * * *

click to enlarge

click here to enlarge
by Enlightenment
Produced: July 23, 2022

What is Holocene? Global warming, deglaciation, urbanization, geological epoch, ice age. LGM, Last Glacial Maximum, Ice age glaciation, global climate, sea level, ice core, younger dryas. Past glaciations. ice age, ice house, greenhouse effect

0.0117 – 0 Ma 
Name formalityFormal
Usage information
Celestial bodyEarth
Regional usageGlobal (ICS)
Time scale(s) usedICS Time Scale
Chronological unitEpoch
Stratigraphic unitSeries
Time span formalityFormal
Lower boundary definitionEnd of the Younger Dryas stadial.
Lower boundary GSSPNGRIP2 ice core, Greenland
75.1000°N 42.3200°W
Lower GSSP ratified2008[1]
Upper boundary definitionPresent day
Upper boundary GSSPN/A
Upper GSSP ratifiedN/A

The Holocene (/ˈhɒl.əsn, --, ˈh.lə-, -l-/)[2][3] is the current geological epoch. It began approximately 9,700 years before the Common Era (BCE)[a] (11,650 cal years BP, or 300 HE). It follows the Last Glacial Period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat.[4] The Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene[5] together form the Quaternary period. The Holocene has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1. It is considered by some to be an interglacial period within the Pleistocene Epoch, called the Flandrian interglacial.[6]

The Holocene corresponds with the rapid proliferation, growth, and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all of its written historytechnological revolutions, development of major civilizations, and overall significant transition towards urban living in the present. The human impact on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for the future evolution of living species, including approximately synchronous lithospheric evidence, or more recently hydrospheric and atmospheric evidence of the human impact. In July 2018, the International Union of Geological Sciences split the Holocene Epoch into three distinct ages based on the climate, Greenlandian (11,700 years ago to 8,200 years ago), Northgrippian (8,200 years ago to 4,200 years ago) and Meghalayan (4,200 years ago to the present), as proposed by International Commission on Stratigraphy.[7] The oldest age, the Greenlandian was characterized by a warming following the preceding ice age. The Northgrippian Age is known for vast cooling due to a disruption in ocean circulations that was caused by the melting of glaciers. The most recent age of the Holocene is the present Meghalayan, which began with extreme drought that lasted around 200 years.[7]


The word Holocene was formed from two Ancient Greek words. Holos (ὅλος) is the Greek word for "whole". "Cene" comes from the Greek word kainos (καινός), meaning "new". The concept is that this epoch is "entirely new".[8][9][10] The suffix '-cene' is used for all the seven epochs of the Cenozoic Era.


The International Commission on Stratigraphy has defined the Holocene as starting approximately 11,700 years before 2000 CE (11,650 cal years BP, or 9,700 BCE).[4] The Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS) regards the term 'recent' as an incorrect way of referring to the Holocene, preferring the term 'modern' instead to describe current processes. It also observes that the term 'Flandrian' may be used as a synonym for Holocene, although it is becoming outdated.[11] The International Commission on Stratigraphy, however, considers the Holocene to be an epoch following the Pleistocene and specifically following the last glacial period. Local names for the last glacial period include the Wisconsinan in North America,[12] the Weichselian in Europe,[13] the Devensian in Britain,[14] the Llanquihue in Chile[15] and the Otiran in New Zealand.[16]

The Holocene can be subdivided into five time intervals, or chronozones, based on climatic fluctuations:[17][needs update?]

Note: "ka BP" means "kilo-annum Before Present", i.e. 1,000 years before 1950 (non-calibrated C14 dates)

Geologists working in different regions are studying sea levels, peat bogs and ice-core samples, using a variety of methods, with a view toward further verifying and refining the Blytt–Sernander sequence. This is a classification of climatic periods initially defined by plant remains in peat mosses.[18] Though the method was once thought to be of little interest, based on 14C dating of peats that was inconsistent with the claimed chronozones,[19] investigators have found a general correspondence across Eurasia and North America. The scheme was defined for Northern Europe, but the climate changes were claimed to occur more widely. The periods of the scheme include a few of the final pre-Holocene oscillations of the last glacial period and then classify climates of more recent prehistory.[20]

Paleontologists have not defined any faunal stages for the Holocene. If subdivision is necessary, periods of human technological development, such as the MesolithicNeolithic, and Bronze Age, are usually used. However, the time periods referenced by these terms vary with the emergence of those technologies in different parts of the world.[21]

According to some scholars, a third epoch of the Quaternary, the Anthropocene, has now begun.[22] This term is used to denote the present time-interval in which many geologically significant conditions and processes have been profoundly altered by human activities. The 'Anthropocene' (a term coined by Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000) is not a formally defined geological unit. The Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy of the International Commission on Stratigraphy has a working group to determine whether it should be. In May 2019, members of the working group voted in favour of recognizing the Anthropocene as formal chrono-stratigraphic unit, with stratigraphic signals around the mid-twentieth century CE as its base. The exact criteria have still to be determined, after which the recommendation also has to be approved by the working group's parent bodies (ultimately the International Union of Geological Sciences).[23]


The Holocene is a geologic epoch that follows directly after the Pleistocene. Continental motions due to plate tectonics are less than a kilometre over a span of only 10,000 years. However, ice melt caused world sea levels to rise about 35 m (115 ft) in the early part of the Holocene and another 30 m in the later part of the Holocene. In addition, many areas above about 40 degrees north latitude had been depressed by the weight of the Pleistocene glaciers and rose as much as 180 m (590 ft) due to post-glacial rebound over the late Pleistocene and Holocene, and are still rising today.[24]

The sea-level rise and temporary land depression allowed temporary marine incursions into areas that are now far from the sea. For example, marine fossils from the Holocene epoch have been found in locations such as Vermont and Michigan. Other than higher-latitude temporary marine incursions associated with glacial depression, Holocene fossils are found primarily in lakebed, floodplain, and cave deposits. Holocene marine deposits along low-latitude coastlines are rare because the rise in sea levels during the period exceeds any likely tectonic uplift of non-glacial origin.[citation needed]

Post-glacial rebound in the Scandinavia region resulted in a shrinking Baltic Sea. The region continues to rise, still causing weak earthquakes across Northern Europe. An equivalent event in North America was the rebound of Hudson Bay, as it shrank from its larger, immediate post-glacial Tyrrell Sea phase, to its present boundaries.[25]


Vegetation and water bodies in northern and central Africa in the Eemian (bottom) and Holocene (top)

The climate throughout the Holocene has shown significant variability despite ice core records from Greenland suggesting a more stable climate following the preceding ice age. Marine chemical fluxes during the Holocene were lower than during the Younger Dryas, but were still considerable enough to imply notable changes in the climate.

The temporal and spatial extent of climate change during the Holocene is an area of considerable uncertainty, with radiative forcing recently proposed to be the origin of cycles identified in the North Atlantic region. Climate cyclicity through the Holocene (Bond events) has been observed in or near marine settings and is strongly controlled by glacial input to the North Atlantic.[26][27] Periodicities of ≈2500, ≈1500, and ≈1000 years are generally observed in the North Atlantic.[28][29][30] At the same time spectral analyses of the continental record, which is remote from oceanic influence, reveal persistent periodicities of 1,000 and 500 years that may correspond to solar activity variations during the Holocene Epoch.[31] A 1,500-year cycle corresponding to the North Atlantic oceanic circulation may have had widespread global distribution in the Late Holocene.[31] From 8,500 BP to 6,700 BP, North Atlantic climate oscillations were highly irregular and erratic because of perturbations from substantial ice discharge into the ocean from the collapsing Laurentide Ice Sheet.[32] The Greenland ice core records indicate that climate changes became more regional and had a larger effect on the mid-to-low latitudes and mid-to-high latitudes after ~5600 B.P.[33]

Human activity through land use changes was an important influence on Holocene climatic changes, and is believed to be why the Holocene is an atypical interglacial that has not experienced significant cooling over its course.[34] From the start of the Industrial Revolution onwards, large-scale anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions caused the Earth to warm.[35] Likewise, climatic changes have induced substantial changes in human civilisation over the course of the Holocene.[36][37]

During the transition from the last glacial to the Holocene, the Huelmo–Mascardi Cold Reversal in the Southern Hemisphere began before the Younger Dryas, and the maximum warmth flowed south to north from 11,000 to 7,000 years ago. It appears that this was influenced by the residual glacial ice remaining in the Northern Hemisphere until the later date.[citation needed] The first major phase of Holocene climate was the Preboreal.[38] At the start of the Preboreal occurred the Preboreal Oscillation (PBO).[39] The Holocene Climatic Optimum (HCO) was a period of warming throughout the globe but was not globally synchronous and uniform.[40] Following the HCO, the global climate entered a broad trend of very gradual cooling known as Neoglaciation, which lasted from the end of the HCO to before the Industrial Revolution.[38] From the 10th-14th century, the climate was similar to that of modern times during a period known as the Mediaeval Warm Period (MWP), also known as the Mediaeval Climatic Optimum (MCO). It was found that the warming that is taking place in current years is both more frequent and more spatially homogeneous than what was experienced during the MWP. A warming of +1 degree Celsius occurs 5–40 times more frequently in modern years than during the MWP. The major forcing during the MWP was due to greater solar activity, which led to heterogeneity compared to the greenhouse gas forcing of modern years that leads to more homogeneous warming. This was followed by the Little Ice Age (LIA) from the 13th or 14th century to the mid-19th century.[41] The LIA was the coldest interval of time of the past two millennia.[42] Following the Industrial Revolution, warm decadal intervals became more common relative to before as a consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, resulting in progressive global warming.[35] In the late 20th century, anthropogenic forcing superseded solar activity as the dominant driver of climate change.[43]


In Northern Germany, the Middle Holocene saw a drastic increase in the amount of raised bogs, most likely related to sea level rise. Although human activity affected geomorphology and landscape evolution in Northern Germany throughout the Holocene, it only became a dominant influence in the last four centuries.[44]


North Africa, dominated by the Sahara Desert in the present, was instead a savanna dotted with large lakes during the Early and Middle Holocene,[45] regionally known as the African Humid Period (AHP).[46] The northward migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) produced increased monsoon rainfall over North Africa.[47] The lush vegetation of the Sahara brought an increase in pastoralism.[48] The AHP ended around 5,500 BP, after which the Sahara began to dry and become the desert it is today.[49]

A stronger East African Monsoon during the Middle Holocene increased precipitation in East Africa and raised lake levels.[50]

In the Kalahari Desert, Holocene climate was overall very stable and environmental change was of low amplitude. Relatively cool conditions have prevailed since 4,000 BP.[51]

Middle East

During the Late Holocene, the coastline of the Levant receded westward, prompting a shift in human settlement patterns following this marine regression.[52]

Central Asia

In Xinjiang, long-term Holocene warming increased meltwater supply during summers, creating large lakes and oases at low altitudes and inducing enhanced moisture recycling.[53] In the Tien Shan, sedimentological evidence from Swan Lake suggests the period between 8,500 and 6,900 BP was relatively warm, with steppe meadow vegetation being predominant. An increase in Cyperaceae from 6,900 to 2,600 BP indicates cooling and humidification of the Tian Shan climate that was interrupted by a warm period between 5,500 and 4,500 BP. After 2,600 BP, an alpine steppe climate prevailed across the region.[54] Sand dune evolution in the Bayanbulak Basin shows that the region was very dry from the Holocene's beginning until around 6,500 BP, when a wet interval began.[55] In the Tibetan Plateau, the moisture optimum spanned from around 7,500 to 5,500 BP.[56]

South Asia

After 11,800 BP, and especially between 10,800 and 9,200 BP, Ladakh experienced tremendous moisture increase most likely related to the strengthening of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM). From 9,200 to 6,900 BP, relative aridity persisted in Ladakh. A second major humid phase occurred in Ladakh from 6,900 to 4,800 BP, after which the region was again arid.[57]

From 900 to 1,200 AD, during the MWP, the ISM was again strong as evidenced by low δ18O values from the Ganga Plain.[58]

The sediments of Lonar Lake in Maharashtra record dry conditions around 11,400 BP that transitioned into a much wetter climate from 11,400 to 11,100 BP due to intensification of the ISM. Over the Early Holocene, the region was very wet, but during the Middle Holocene from 6,200 to 3,900 BP, aridification occurred, with the subsequent Late Holocene being relatively arid as a whole.[59]

Coastal southwestern India experienced a stronger ISM from 9,690 to 7,560 BP, during the HCO. From 3,510 to 2,550 BP, during the Late Holocene, the ISM became weaker, although this weakening was interrupted by an interval of unusually high ISM strength from 3,400 to 3,200 BP.[60]

East Asia

Northern China experienced an abrupt aridification event approximately 4,000 BP.[61] From around 3,500 to 3,000 BP, northeastern China underwent a prolonged cooling, manifesting itself with the disruption of Bronze Age civilisations in the region.[62] Eastern and southern China, the monsoonal regions of China, were wetter than present in the Early and Middle Holocene.[63] Lake Huguangyan's TOC, δ13Cwax, δ13Corg, δ15N values suggest the period of peak moisture lasted from 9,200 to 1,800 BP and was attributable to a strong East Asian Summer Monsoon (EASM).[64] Late Holocene cooling events in the region were dominantly influenced by solar forcing, with many individual cold snaps linked to solar minima such as the Oort, WolfSpörer, and Maunder Minima.[65] Monsoonal regions of China became more arid in the Late Holocene.[63]

Southeast Asia

Before 7,500 BP, the Gulf of Thailand was exposed above sea level and was very arid. A marine transgression occurred from 7,500 to 6,200 BP amidst global warming.[66]

North America

During the Middle Holocene, western North America was drier than present, with wetter winters and drier summers.[67] After the end of the thermal maximum of the HCO around 4,500 BP, the East Greenland Current underwent strengthening.[68] A massive megadrought occurred from 2,800 to 1,850 BP in the Great Basin.[69]

Eastern North America underwent abrupt warming and humidification around 10,500 BP and then declined from 9,300 to 9,100 BP. The region has undergone a long term wettening since 5,500 BP occasionally interrupted by intervals of high aridity. A major cool event lasting from 5,500 to 4,700 BP was coeval with a major humidification before being terminated by a major drought and warming at the end of that interval.[70]

South America

During the Early Holocene, relative sea level rose in the Bahia region, causing a landward expansion of mangroves. During the Late Holocene, the mangroves declined as sea level dropped and freshwater supply increased.[71] In the Santa Catarina region, the maximum sea level highstand was around 2.1 metres above present and occurred about 5,800 to 5,000 BP.[72] Sea levels at Rocas Atoll were likewise higher than present for much of the Late Holocene.[73]

New Zealand

Ice core measurements imply that the sea surface temperature (SST) gradient east of New Zealand, across the subtropical front (STF), was around 2 degrees Celsius during the HCO. This temperature gradient is significantly less than modern times, which is around 6 degrees Celsius. A study utilizing five SST proxies from 37°S to 60°S latitude confirmed that the strong temperature gradient was confined to the area immediately south of the STF, and is correlated with reduced westerly winds near New Zealand.[74] Since 7,100 BP, New Zealand experienced 53 cyclones similar in magnitude to Cyclone Bola.[75]


Evidence from the Galápagos Islands shows that the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was significantly weaker during the Middle Holocene, but that the strength of ENSO became moderate to high over the Late Holocene.[76]

Ecological developments

Animal and plant life have not evolved much during the relatively short Holocene, but there have been major shifts in the richness and abundance of plants and animals. A number of large animals including mammoths and mastodonssaber-toothed cats like Smilodon and Homotherium, and giant sloths went extinct in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. The extinction of some megafauna in America could be attributed to the Clovis people; this culture was known for "Clovis points" which were fashioned on spears for hunting animals. Shrubs, herbs, and mosses had also changed in relative abundance from the Pleistocene to Holocene, identified by permafrost core samples.[77]

Throughout the world, ecosystems in cooler climates that were previously regional have been isolated in higher altitude ecological "islands".[78]

The 8.2-ka event, an abrupt cold spell recorded as a negative excursion in the δ18O record lasting 400 years, is the most prominent climatic event occurring in the Holocene Epoch, and may have marked a resurgence of ice cover. It has been suggested that this event was caused by the final drainage of Lake Agassiz, which had been confined by the glaciers, disrupting the thermohaline circulation of the Atlantic.[79] This disruption was the result of an ice dam over Hudson Bay collapsing sending cold lake Agassiz water into the North Atlantic ocean.[80] Furthermore, studies show that the melting of Lake Agassiz led to sea-level rise which flooded the North American coastal landscape. The basal peat plant was then used to determine the resulting local sea-level rise of 0.20-0.56m in the Mississippi Delta.[80] Subsequent research, however, suggested that the discharge was probably superimposed upon a longer episode of cooler climate lasting up to 600 years and observed that the extent of the area affected was unclear.[81]

Human developments

Overview map of the world at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, color-coded by cultural stage:
  hunter-gatherers (Palaeolithic or Mesolithic)
  nomadic pastoralists
  simple farming societies
  complex farming societies (Bronze Age (Old WorldOlmecsAndes)
  state societies (Fertile CrescentEgyptChina)

The beginning of the Holocene corresponds with the beginning of the Mesolithic age in most of Europe. In regions such as the Middle East and Anatolia, the term Epipaleolithic is preferred in place of Mesolithic, as they refer to approximately the same time period. Cultures in this period include HamburgianFedermesser, and the Natufian culture, during which the oldest inhabited places still existing on Earth were first settled, such as Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) in the Middle East.[82] There is also evolving archeological evidence of proto-religion at locations such as Göbekli Tepe, as long ago as the 9th millennium BC.[83]

The preceding period of the Late Pleistocene had already brought advancements such as the bow and arrow, creating more efficient forms of hunting and replacing spear throwers. In the Holocene, however, the domestication of plants and animals allowed humans to develop villages and towns in centralized locations. Archaeological data shows that between 10,000 to 7,000 BP rapid domestication of plants and animals took place in tropical and subtropical parts of AsiaAfrica, and Central America.[84] The development of farming allowed humans to transition away from hunter-gatherer nomadic cultures, which did not establish permanent settlements, to a more sustainable sedentary lifestyle. This form of lifestyle change allowed humans to develop towns and villages in centralized locations, which gave rise to the world known today. It is believed that the domestication of plants and animals began in the early part of the Holocene in the tropical areas of the planet.[84] Because these areas had warm, moist temperatures, the climate was perfect for effective farming. Culture development and human population change, specifically in South America, has also been linked to spikes in hydroclimate resulting in climate variability in the mid-Holocene (8.2 - 4.2 k cal BP).[85] Climate change on seasonality and available moisture also allowed for favorable agricultural conditions which promoted human development for Maya and Tiwanaku regions.[86]

Extinction event

The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction,[87][88] is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity.[89][90][91][92] The included extinctions span numerous families of bacteriafungiplants[93][94][95] and animals, including mammalsbirdsreptilesamphibiansfish and invertebrates. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background extinction rates.[90][80][96][97]


See also


  1. ^ "an age of 11 700 calendar yr b2 k (before AD 2000) for the base of the Holocene, with a maximum counting error of 99 yr."[4]


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Further reading

External links