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Episodes 2008; 31(2): 264-267

Published online June 1, 2008


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

The Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Holocene Series/Epoch (Quaternary System/Period) in the NGRIP ice core

Mike Walker1, Sigfus Johnsen2, Sune Olander Rasmussen2, Jørgen-Peder Steffensen2, Trevor Popp3, Philip Gibbard4, Wim Hoek5, John Lowe6, John Andrews7, Svante Björck8, Les Cwynar9, Konrad Hughen10, Peter Kershaw11, Bernd Kromer12, Thomas Litt13, David J. Lowe14, Takeshi Nakagawa15, Rewi Newnham16, Jakob Schwander17

1Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Wales, Lampeter, Wales SA48 7ED, UK.
2Centre for Ice and Climate, The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, DK2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
3Stable Isotope Laboratory,Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co 80302, USA.
4Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN, UK.
5Department of Physical Geography, University of Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands.
6Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK.
7Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Campus Box, 450, Boulder, Co 80309, USA.
8GeoBiosphere Science Centre, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, Sölveg 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden.
9Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 6E1.
10Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
11School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.
12Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, University of Heidelberg, INF 229, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
13Institute for Palaeontology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 8, D-53115, Bonn, Germany.
14Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand.
15Department of Geography, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.
16School of Geography, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK.
17Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.

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.


The Greenland ice core from NorthGRIP (NGRIP) contains a proxy climate record across the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary of unprecedented clarity and resolution. Analysis of an array of physical and chemical parameters within the ice enables the base of the Holocene, as reflected in the first signs of climatic warming at the end of the Younger Dryas/Greenland Stadial 1 cold phase, to be located with a high degree of precision. This climatic event is most clearly reflected in an abrupt shift in deuterium excess values, accompanied by more gradual changes in δ18O, dust concentration, a range of chemical species, and annual layer thickness. A timescale based on multi-parameter annual layer counting provides an age of 11,700 yr b2k (before AD2000) for the base of the Holocene, with an estimated 2σ uncertainty of 99 yr. It is proposed that an archived core from this unique sequence should constitute the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Holocene Series/Epoch (Quaternary System/Period)