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GEOLOGICAL TIME SCALE and NAMIBIA. The beginnings of our planet formed some 4.5 billion years ago and the Geological Time Scale lower down represents the ongoing development of the earth, its seas and land masses.

 

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Geological Time Scale

 

 

Geological Time Scale and Namibia

The beginnings of our planet formed some 4.5 billion years ago and the Geological Time Scale lower down represents the ongoing development of the earth, its seas and land masses.

 

Early life began in the seas about 3,500 million years ago in the Archean Era, but it was not until the Paleozoic Era, about 570 million years ago that a profusion of marine invertebrates developed such as cephalopods, corals, gastropods, trilobites and worms. The early fish were invertebrates having their bodies within 'armour casings'.  The first vertebrates appeared about 500 million years ago and fish evolved into creatures having a bone skeletal frame and became the dominant vertebrate. About 410 million years ago certain species of fish developed into amphibians and began to colonize the land. It was about 360 million years ago that the early reptiles evolved and they in turn began to displace the amphibians as the dominant land species.

 

Geological Time Scale used is as determined by the  International Committee on Stratigraphy (ICS)

1. Eons are the greatest chronological divisions of which there are four. The Hadian and Archean being the earliest 2.5 billion years of the Earth's development, followed by the Proterozoic, 1.5 billion years, and the Phanerozoic which began 542 million years ago until today.

2. Eons are subdivided into Eras.

   (a) The Proterozoic is subdivided into the Palaeoproterozoic, Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic Eras.

   (b) The Phanerozoicis subdivided into the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras.

3. Eras are subdivided into Periods.

   (a) The Paleoproterozoic into the Siderian. Rhyacian, Ososirian, Stratherian and Calymmian.

   (b) The Mesoproterozoic into the Calymmian, Ectasian and Stenian.

   (c) The Neoproterozoic into the Tonian, Cryogenian and Ediacaran.

   (d) The Paleozoic into the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian and Carboniferous.

   (e) The Mesozoic into the Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.

   (f) The Cenozoic into the Palaeogene and Neogene.

4. Periods are subdivided into Epochs.

 

Plate Tectonics

It was as early as 1620 that the English philosopher Francis Bacon commented on the apparent similarity of the shape of the West coastline of Africa and the Eastern coastline of South America. However, Bacon made no reference that the two continents could have once been joined. In 1858, an American called Antonio Schneider made the suggestion that the continents had somehow moved in respect to each other. But, it was not until 1915 that German meteorologist Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) published in his book, 'THE ORIGIN OF CONTINENTS AND OCEANS' the theory of Continental Drift . Wegener proposed that the earth had once consisted of a single land mass surrounded by a vast ocean. He named this super continent Pangaea and explained that it had long ago divided forming two great continents - Laurasia in the North and Gondwana in the South and that, in time, these two continents had further divided.

 

Wegener's theory was viewed with scepticism by the Geological fraternity until the 1960s by which time advanced scientific measuring equipment had been developed and the phenomenon of Paleomagnetism was accepted.

 

Go to Tectonic Plate Palaeo Maps

 

 Earth 'entering new age of geological time'
The Earth has entered a new age of geological time – the epoch of new man, scientists claim.

 

“The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.”

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Geological Time Scale

Eon Era Period Epoch Begin - End

(Mya)

Activities Affecting Namibia Nam

Geo

 

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Neogene

23 - 0.00

Holocene 0.0115 - 0.00 80,000yrs ago: Etosha Pan,  Hoba Meteorite  -  Orange River Man  
Pleistocene 1.81 - 0.0115    
Pliocene 5.33 - 1.81 2 Ma: River erosion forms Kuiseb &  Sesriem Canyon , the Ugab Vingerklip. The formation of the Namib Sand Dunes.

3 Ma: Karstification Carbonate Rocks - Otavi Mountains -  Gaub Cave  Naukluft Mountains

5 Ma: Formation of the Namib Desert

 

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Miocene 23.2 - 5.33 20 Ma: Formation of the Gravel Plains and river terraces. Vingerklip  Kuiseb and Sesriem Canyon R

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Palaeogene

65.5 - 23

Oligocene 33.9 - 23    
Eocene 55.8 - 33.9    
Palaeocene 65 - 55.8    

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Cretaceous

146 - 65.5

Late 99.6 - 65.5 80 Ma: Brukkaros  formed plus  Angiospermous flowers developed  
Early 146 - 99.6 100 Ma: Uplifting of the Great Escarpment  
Jurassic

200 - 146

Late 161 - 146 120 Ma:  Gondwana Break-Up . Volcanic activity, Rift Volcanism, K
Middle 176 - 161   Burnt Mountain Area -  Brandberg, Erongo, Spitzkoppe, Grootberg Pass. A
Early 200 - 176 180 Ma: A huge desert spreads across Gondwana R
Triassic

251 - 200

Late 228 -200 200 Ma:  Dinosaur Tracks  -  Massospondylus O
Middle 245 - 228 Waterberg, Gamsberg, Twyfelfontein O
Early 251 - 245 230 Ma: Reptiles  Erythrosuchus Africanus  -  Kannemeyeria  in Namibia  

 

 

 

 

 

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Permian

299 -251

Late 260 - 251    
Middle 271 - 260 320 - 270 Ma: The Great Dwyka Ice Age  
Early 299 - 271 280 Ma: Sedimentation of conglomerates. Omatako Mountains, Waterberg,  Mesosaurus -  Petrified Forest  
Carboniferous

359 - 299

Late 318 - 299 Super-Continent of Gondwana being formed  Mukurob, Weissrand  
Early 359 - 318    
Devonian

416 - 359

Late 385 - 359 Rock Erosion in all Parts of Namibia  
Middle 398 - 385 Devonian Period: An layer of OZONE in the atmosphere provided some UV  
Early 416 - 398 protection. On land Gymnosperm plants flourished and the first air   
Silurian  

444 - 416

breathing arthropods developed on land - millipedes, spiders and mites.  
Ordovician

488 - 444

Late 461 - 444    
Middle 472 - 461 The first Lichens crept out of the seas and began to colonize the land  
Early 488 - 472   N

Cambrian

541 - 488

Furongian 501 - 488   A
Middle 513 - 501   M
Early 542 -513   I

 

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Ediacaran   630 - 542 The build-up of sediments in the seas separating the land reforms Rodina as a continent. In Namibia: 540 Ma: Rise of the Damara Granites, Moon Landscape Rocks , Rossing Mountain, Armour plated fish appear in the seas with the first shell fish. 580 Ma: Ore enrichment of  Tsumeb Mine  deposits 650 Ma: Sedimentation of Nama Sequence - Zaris Mountains,  Fish River Canyon Rock, South Namibian Escarpment B

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Cryogenian   850 - 630 Rodina breaks into 3 fragments. There is a gradual build-up of sediments in the sea between the land masses

In Namibia: 750 Ma: Third mountain building phase. Folding of the Damara Granites. Auas, Naukluft. Formation of the Otavi Mountains by marine deposits

 
Tonian   1000 - 850  Stromatolites

In Namibia: 1,000 Ma: Land erosion, Luderitz Peninsula, Khomas Hochland

 

 

 

 

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Stenian   1200 - 1000 Land masses of Nina, Ur and Atlantica collide to form Rodina

Early Marine life forms: metazoans - jelly fish

 

 
Ectasian   1400 - 1200 1,300 Ma: The Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe Cratons had had connected with the Congo and Kalahari Cratons, and the land mass known as Rodinia was beginning to form.

In Namibia The Epupa, Grootfontein and Huab Metamorphic Complex were formed

 
Calymmian   1600 - 1400 1,500 Ma: The second phase of mountain building. In Namibia, The Gamsberg, Naukluft, Fish River Canyon and Namaqualand Metamorphic Complex.

 

 

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Stratherian   1800 - 1600    
Ososirian   2050 - 1800 2,000 Ma: The activity of the algae had by now increased the earth's oxygen content to about 20% thus allowing more complex life forms to evolve.  
Rhyacian   2300 - 2050    
Siderian   2500 - 2300    

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  Neoarchean   2800 - 2500 2,700 Ma: The Zimbabwe Craton and Kaapvaal Craton Collide  
  Mesoarchean   3200 - 2800 3,000 Ma: Early plate-tectonic activity begins to form the first land masses.The Kaapvaal Craton stabalised in Southern Africa  
  Paleoarchean   3600 - 3200    
  Eoarchean   3800 - 3600 The first life forms, algae, aquatic photosynthetic cynobacteria began the release of oxygen into the atmosphere.  
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  Early Imbrian   3850 - 3800 The earth's crust cools. 'Continental Plates' begin to form  
  Nectarian   3950 - 3850 The oldest known of sedimanetary rocks begin to form. Earth's Atmosphere is devoid of oxygen comprising of  mainly methane, ammonia and other toxic gases.  
  Basin Groups   4150 - 3950 Plate techtonic movement begins. Life's Building-Blocks begin at thermal outlets.  
  Cryptic   4600 - 4150 No land. Meteor bombardment. Water vapour condenses and forms the oceans.  

 

Acknowledgements and further reading:  E1,  E2, G1, G2, G3, M2, W1, W2

 

Namibia Pages Having Geological Interest

 

Brukkaros

Dinosaur Tracks

Giants Playground
Organ Pipes

Spitzkoppe

Burnt Mountain

Fish River Canyon

Mesosaurus Fossils

Petrified Forest

 Vingerklip

Geological Time Scale

 
   
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