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Advances in Earth Science  2010, Vol. 25 Issue (7): 775-781    DOI: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2010.07.0775
An International Debate on the Status of the Quaternary as a Formal Chronostratigraphical Unit and the Final Ratification of the Quaternary System/Period
Yao Yupeng, Liu Yu
Department of Earth Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Beijing 100085, China
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The term  Quaternary′ has been widely used in the Earth Sciences, representing the youngest time span in the geological history of the Earth. Quaternary research has attracted much attention as it is one of the most important scientific fields for understanding global environmental change. However, a long-running debate over both the status of the Quaternary as a formal chronostratigraphical unit and its base (1.8 Ma versus 2.6 Ma) has existed since the coining of the term in the 18th century. In 2004, the term Quaternary′ was even abandoned by some famous scholars and organizations, leading to a heated international debate. Finally in 2009, a proposal for establishing Quaternary as a formal international Period/System with its base at 2.6 Ma was formally ratified by the International Union of Geological Sciences. Here we first review the history of the term Quaternary′, and then celebrate the historic contribution which the Chinese loess community have made in the effort to retain the term Quaternary′ and to assign it a formal rank in the Geologic Time Scale. 

Key words:   Quaternary      Pleistocene      Loess      Red clay      Geologic time scale     
Received:  17 May 2010      Published:  10 July 2010
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Yao Yupeng, Liu Yu. An International Debate on the Status of the Quaternary as a Formal Chronostratigraphical Unit and the Final Ratification of the Quaternary System/Period. Advances in Earth Science, 2010, 25(7): 775-781.

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