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Interval of time occupied by the Earth's geologic history, extending from c. 3.9 billion years ago (corresponding to the age of the oldest known rocks) to the present day. It is, in effect, the part of the Earth's history that is recorded in rock strata. The geologic time scale is classified in nested intervals distinguished by characteristic geologic and biologic features. From longest to shortest duration, the intervals are eon, era, period, and epoch.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on geologic time, visit Britannica.com.