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What is the reason for naming the Holocene an epoch?

PostPosted: November 28th, 2010, 2:06 pm
by dtaviation
Would someone please explain to a layman the rationale for putting the Holocene on the same level as true epochs such as the Pleistocene and Pliocene?

In the INTERNATIONAL STRATIGRAPHIC CHART, I don't see previous interglacial periods having been named, which prompts some specific questions:

When the current interglacial period ends, sometime between now and 20,000 years from now, as is assumed, is that also the end of the Holocene, ie. is the Holocene just an interglacial; can such a such a short period considered to be a true epoch? If it's just an interglacial period, then why don't previous Pleistocene interglacials have names?

If, on the other hand, the Holocene is to be considered to be on the level of an epoch such as the Pleistocene, lasting perhaps millions of years, then why would something as trivial as the start of a particular interglacial period be reason enough to demarcate the end of one epoch and the beginning of another?

I'm having a great deal of trouble making sense of this and would very much appreciate any answers which would elucidate this for me.