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We are grateful to Lee Anne Zajicek, who coauthored the first edition. Her original contributions continue to be an integral part of this chapter. We thank the staff of the Maturango Museum, Ridgecrest, California. Specifically, for their generous help with photography and fossil images, we acknowledge Debbie Benson, executive director; Alexander K. Rogers, former archaeology curator; Sherry Brubaker, natural history curator; and Elaine Wiley, history curator. We thank Sharlene Paxton, a librarian at Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, California, for her guidance and expertise with OER and open-source images, and John Stenger-Smith and Claudia Sellers from Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, California, for their feedback on the chemistry and plant biology content. Finally, we thank William Zajicek and Lauren Zajicek, our community college students, for providing their impressions and extensive feedback on early drafts of the chapter.
Figure 7.6: Geologic time scale showing the geologic eons, eras, periods, epochs, and associated dates in millions of years ago (MYA). The time scale also shows the onset of major evolutionary and tectonic events affecting the North American continent and the Northern Cordillera (SCAK, south-central Alaska; SEAK, southeast Alaska; NAK, northern Alaska; CAK central Alaska). The following subdivisions and events are included on the time scale, from oldest to youngest. The oldest subdivision of the time scale is the Precambrian (symbolized by PC, X, Y, or Z in the GRI GIS data). The Precambrian is split into three eons: Hadean (4600-4000 MYA), Archean (4000-2500 MYA), and Proterozoic (2500-541 MYA). Global evolutionary and tectonic events that occurred during the Precambrian include (organized from oldest to youngest and including the eon in which the event occurred): formation of the Earth 4,600 MYA (Hadean); formation of the Earth’s crust (Hadean); origin of life (Hadean); oldest known Earth rocks (Archean); early bacteria and algae (stromatolies; Archean); simple multicelled organisms (Proterozoic); Kanektok Metamorphic Complex (oldest known rocks in Alaska; Proterozoic); and complex multicellular organisms (Proterozoic). The next subdivision of the timescale is the Phanerozoic Eon (541.0 MYA-present). The Phanerozoic Eon is split into three eras: Paleozoic (541.0-252.2 MYA; symbolized by PZ in the GRI GIS data), Mesozoic (252.2-66.0 MYA; symbolized by MZ in the GRI GIS data), and Cenozoic (66.0 MYA-present; symbolized by CZ in the GRI GIS data). The Paleozoic Era is split into seven periods (organized from oldest to youngest and including the geologic map symbol used in the GRI GIS data): Cambrian (541.0-485.4 MYA; C); Ordovician (485.4-443.4 MYA; O); Silurian (443.3-419.2 MYA; S); Devonian (419.2-358.9 MYA; D); Mississippian (358.9-323.2 MYA; M); Pennsylvanian (323.2-298.9 MYA; PN; the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian are also collectively known as the Carboniferous); and Permian (298.9-252.2; P). Major evolutionary and tectonic events that occurred during the Paleozoic include (organized from oldest to youngest and including the period in which the event occurred): Wales Orogeny (SEAK; Cambrian); early shelled organisms (Cambrian); rise of corals (Cambrian); trilobite maximum (Ordovician); primitive fish (Ordovician); mass extinction (Ordovician-Silurian); first land plants (Silurian), Kakas Orogeny (SEAK; Silurian); first forests (evergreens; Devonian); extensive plutonism and volcanism in the Yukon-Tanana and Brooks Range (Devonian); first amphibians (Devonian); mass extinction (Devonian); Ellesemerian Orogeny/Antler Orogeny (Devonian-Mississippian); ancestral Rocky Mountains (Mississippian); first reptiles (Mississippian); sharks abundant (Pennsylvanian); coal-forming swamps (Pennsylvanian); supercontinent Pangaea and Tethys Ocean (Pennsylvanian-Permian); and mass extinction (end Permian). The Mesozoic Era is split into three periods (organized from oldest to youngest and including the geologic map symbol used in the GRI GIS data): Triassic (252.2-201.3 MYA; Tr), Jurassic (201.3-145.0 MYA; J), and Cretaceous (145.0-66.0 MYA; K). Global evolutionary and tectonic events that occurred during the Mesozoic include (organized from oldest to youngest and including the period in which the event occurred): flying reptiles (Triassic); first dinosaurs and first mammals (Triassic); breakup of Pangaea begins (Triassic); mass extinction (end Triassic); Talkeetna arc (Jurassic); dinosaurs diverse and abundant (Jurassic); Brookian Orogeny (Jurassic-Cretaceous); early flowering plants (Cretaceous); opening of the Canada Basin and rotation of Arctic Alaska (Cretaceous); placental mammals (Cretaceous); exhumation of the Nome Complex (Cretaceous); extensive plutonism (Cretaceous), mass extinction (end Cretaceous). The Cenozoic Era is split into three periods (organized from oldest to youngest and including the geologic map symbol used in the GRI GIS data): Paleogene (66.0-23.0 MYA; PG), Neogene (23.0-2.6 MYA; N; together the Paleogene and Neogene are also known as the Tertiary [T]), and Quaternary (2.6 MYA-present; Q). The Paleogene is split into three shorter subdivisions called epochs: Paleocene (66.0-56.0 MYA; EP), Eocene (56.0-33.9 MYA; E), and Oligocene (33.9-23.0 OL). The Neogene is split into two epochs: Miocene (23.0-5.3 MYA; MI), and Pliocene (5.3-2.6 MYA; PL). The Quaternary is split into two epochs: Pleistocene (2.6-0.01 MYA; PE), and Holocene (0.01 MYA-present, H). Global evolutionary and tectonic events that occurred during the Mesozoic include (organized from oldest to youngest and including the epoch in which the event occurred): early primates (Paleocene); slab-window subduction (SCAK; Paleocene-Eocene), start of Bering Sea Volcanic eruptions (Oligocene); Alaska Range uplift (CAK; Oligocene); spread of grassy ecosystems (Miocene-Pliocene); modern humans (Pleistocene); ice age glaciations (Pleistocene); extinction of large mammals and birds (end Pleistocene); end of the ice age (end Pleistocene).
Figure 7.24: A Radiocarbon Date Calibration Curve. X axis: Calendar years ago (cal yr BP) ranging from 25000 (left) to 0 (right). Y axis: Radiocarbon Age (14C yr BP) ranging from 0 (bottom) to over 20000 (top). A slightly wavy line shows the calibration curve that goes from top left (23900 cal, 20000 radiocarbon) to bottom right (0,0). Lines point to other calibrated points: (18000 cal, 15000 radiocarbon), (11400 cal, 10000 radiocarbon), and (5700 cal, 5000 radiocarbon).
Figure 7.26: Graph of averaged oxygen isotope (δ18O) in deep sea sediment carbonate. The Y axis shows isotopic ratio δ18O permil ranging from -1.2 to +1.2. X axis displays thousands of years before present, ranging from 0 to 600. Data shows large swings from modern climate at -0.8 δ18O to +.7 δ18O around 20 thousand years ago (last Ice Age Maximum), back down to -0.8 δ18O last warm period about 120 thousand years ago. While not as dramatic, nor labeled, the graph also shows additional wide swings of δ18O measurements through time.