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Episodes 2017; 40(1): 22-27

Published online March 1, 2017


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

A case for formalizing subseries (subepochs) of the Cenozoic Era(a)

Martin J. Head1, Marie-Pierre Aubry2, Mike Walker3,4, Kenneth G. Miller2, Brian R. Pratt5

1Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada. Corresponding author, E-mail: mjhead@brocku.ca
2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway NJ 08854, USA. E-mail: aubry@rci.rutgers.edu; kgm@rci.rutgers.edu
3School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, Trinity Saint David, University of Wales, Lampeter, Wales, SA48 7ED, UK. E-mail: m.walker@uwtsd.ac.uk
4Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Wales, SY23 3DB, UK
5Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon SK7N 5E2, Canada. E-mail: brian.pratt@usask.ca

Received: December 17, 2015; Revised: August 12, 2016; Accepted: August 12, 2016

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Subseries/subepochs (e.g., Lower/Early Eocene, Upper/ Late Pleistocene) have yet to be formally defined despite their wide use in the Cenozoic literature. This has led to concerns about the stability of their definition and uncertainty over their status that has led to inconsistencies in capitalization. To address these issues, we propose for the Cenozoic that subseries/subepochs be defined formally by reference to Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points and ratified in the same way as for other formal chronostratigraphic units. Formalization of subseries/subepochs for the Cenozoic will respect their deep historical roots, recognise their chronostratigraphic nature, stabilize their definition, ensure consistency in application, embrace their de-facto use as formal terms within the Paleogene, Neogene and especially Quaternary communities, and resolve the question of capitalization: an upper-case initial letter without exception.