Dating ice age sediment deposits
Although it is considered an epoch, the Holocene is not significantly different from previous interglacial intervals within the Pleistocene.
It was not until after the development of radiocarbon dating, however, that Pleistocene archaeological excavations shifted to stratified caves and rock-shelters as opposed to open-air river-terrace sites.
He constructed the name "Pleistocene" ("Most New" or "Newest") from the Greek πλεῖστος, pleīstos, "most", and καινός, kainós (latinized as cænus), "new"; this contrasting with the immediately preceding Pliocene ("More New" or "Newer", from πλείων, pleíōn, "more", and kainós), and the immediately subsequent Holocene ("wholly new" or "entirely new", from ὅλος, hólos, "whole", and kainós) epoch, which extends to the present time.
It covers most of the latest period of repeated glaciation, up to and including the Younger Dryas cold spell.
Glaciers existed in the mountains of Ethiopia and to the west in the Atlas mountains.
In the northern hemisphere, many glaciers fused into one.
The mean annual temperature at the edge of the ice was −6 °C (21 °F); at the edge of the permafrost, 0 °C (32 °F).
Each glacial advance tied up huge volumes of water in continental ice sheets 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,900–9,800 ft) thick, resulting in temporary sea-level drops of 100 metres (300 ft) or more over the entire surface of the Earth.
The name Plio-Pleistocene has, in the past, been used to mean the last ice age.It is estimated that, at maximum glacial extent, 30% of the Earth's surface was covered by ice.In addition, a zone of permafrost stretched southward from the edge of the glacial sheet, a few hundred kilometres in North America, and several hundred in Eurasia.During interglacial times, such as at present, drowned coastlines were common, mitigated by isostatic or other emergent motion of some regions. Antarctica was ice-bound throughout the Pleistocene as well as the preceding Pliocene.
The Andes were covered in the south by the Patagonian ice cap. The current decaying glaciers of Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ruwenzori Range in east and central Africa were larger.
The Pleistocene is the first epoch of the Quaternary Period or sixth epoch of the Cenozoic Era.