Geologists have identified a new distinct age in the history of planet Earth, and are calling it the “Meghalayan Age”. And yes, it is actually named after Meghalaya, one of the north-eastern states of India.
Geologists have divided up the Earth’s existence into various slices of time. Each slice of time is related to a significant change, like the breaking up of continents or severe climate changes. Recently, scientists have identified a distinct new age on the earth, and are calling it the Meghalayan Age. It is part of the Holocene period in the chart above.
Why do we care about all this stuff that clearly happened a very, very long time ago? Humans are curious! We have a desire to figure things out and to know things. If we can figure out how life came about, and if we can figure out how the solar system works, maybe we can figure out where our species is going, and be prepared for it!
What is the Meghalayan Age and why is it important to identify it? The Meghalayan Age started 4,200 years ago and extends to the present. Evidence shows that at the beginning of this period, there was a severe drought across the world which lasted for 200 years. Many civilisations in Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and the Yangtze River Valley were wiped out.
How was the Meghalayan Age identified? The age of rocks is determined by looking at the lines between layers of that rock. So it is assumed that unless something drastic happens, newer layers of rock bunch up on on older layers of rock and get compressed together. Kind of like you tell the age of a tree – if you cut its bark, you can tell the age of the tree by looking at the rings as trees grow in height and width as they grow older. Geologists were looking deep in the Mawmluh cave in Meghalaya, India. They found a stalagmite which had many clear markings corresponding to the different periods and eras on Earth, and showed a clear chemical change in the rock at this time period 4,200 years ago.
What is a stalagmite? A stalagmite is a rock made of calcium deposits, inside a cave. This is made by water dripping from the roof of the cave, onto the floor, carrying calcium along with it.
Why is it called the Meghalayan Age? Because that’s where this stalagmite which has the clearest indicator of this period, was found!
Written by Shruti Divecha and Sunaina Murthy.
Shruti was a graphic and textile designer by profession till her curiosity filled daughter pulled out the writer inside her. She writes stories, GK nuggets and teaches recycled crafts to children.
Sunaina is a biotechnologist, writer, greedy reader, and amateur photographer.