golden spike

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The golden spike marking the Ediacaran GSSP


golden spike (plural golden spikes)

  1. (geology) A geologic marker created by a global event that leads to long lasting global changes recorded in the geologic record that can be used to indicate a change in a geologic time division such as an epoch, age, era.
    • 2009, Susan Turner; David Oldroyd, chapter 13, in The Paleobiological Revolution: Essays on the Growth of Modern Paleontology, page 261:
      There was a further special problem when looking for a marker or definition of the Precambrian-Cambrian golden spike.
    • 2022 December 13, McKenzie Prillaman, “Are we in the Anthropocene? Geologists could define new epoch for Earth”, in Nature[1], →DOI:
      The AWG is working backwards, Finney says: normally, geologists identify strata that should enter the geological timescale before considering a golden spike; in this case, they’re seeking out the lower boundary of an undefined set of geological layers.