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Quaternary Earth Systems

Quaternary dating (geochronology)

Determining the timing of climatic changes and events, and of their impact on the environment, is an important aspect of Quaternary research.

The Quaternary is the most recent period of the geological record, and includes the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs. The Quaternary is often considered to be synonymous with the 'Ice Age', however, although it's most distinctive feature is the repeated oscillations of the global climate system between cold (glacial) and warm (interglacial) states. Determining the timing of climatic changes and events, and of their impact on the environment, is therefore an important aspect of Quaternary research.

Various dating techniques, each with its particular strengths and limitations, are available for Quaternary scientists, and the techniques can be used to establish chronologies of events. Depending on the research area (and the material available) this might include dating of climatic episodes, determination of the age of macrofossils or artefacts, or estimating process rates and recurrence intervals.