The geologic time scale is one of the most difficult concepts in geology to grasp, yet is fundamental to our understanding of how Earth and life processes have changed the face of our planet over the past 4.6 billion years. In a program geared to the layperson, world traveler, or aspiring geology student in awe of deep time and the geologic record, geologist Kirt Kempter offers a unique approach to making the topic approachable: He condenses the last three geologic eras into a humanly comfortable time frame of a single calendar year.
Within those 365 days, Kempter explores the evolution of life and land from the perspective of North America, beginning 541 million years ago at the start of the Paleozoic Era. He covers the formation of significant mountains, including the Appalachians and the Rockies, and the first appearance of major animal groups, such as amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Not surprisingly, the human story in North America takes place in just the last hour of this geologic year. Kempter’s approach to geologic time provides a simplified strategy to perceive and digest temporal connections among important events in the Earth’s history.