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    Review of the Early–Middle Pleistocene boundary and Marine Isotope Stage 19

    Martin J. Head

    Early–Middle Pleistocene, Quaternary, GSSP, MIS 19, Chiba

    The Quaternary System/Period and its official subdivision as currently approved by the ICS and ratified by the IUGS EC. The Upper Pleistocene Subseries has yet to be officially defined. GSSP = Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point.

    The Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) defining the base of the Chibanian Stage and Middle Pleistocene Subseries at the Chiba section, Japan, was ratified on January 17, 2020. Although this completed a process initiated by the International Union for Quaternary Research in 1973, the term Middle Pleistocene had been in use since the 1860s. The Chiba GSSP occurs immediately below the top of Marine Isotope Substage (MIS) 19c and has an astronomical age of 774.1 ka. The Matuyama–Brunhes paleomagnetic reversal has a directional midpoint just 1.1 m above the GSSP and serves as the primary guide to the boundary. This reversal lies within the Early–Middle Pleistocene transition and has long been favoured to mark the base of the Middle Pleistocene. MIS 19 occurs within an interval of low-amplitude orbital eccentricity and was triggered by an obliquity cycle. It spans two insolation peaks resulting from precession minima and has a duration of ~ 28 to 33 kyr. MIS 19c begins ~ 791–787.5 ka, includes full interglacial conditions which lasted for ~ 8–12.5 kyr, and ends with glacial inception at ~ 774–777 ka. This inception has left an array of climatostratigraphic signals close to the Early–Middle Pleistocene boundary. MIS 19b–a contains a series of three or four interstadials often with rectangular-shaped waveforms and marked by abrupt (< 200 year) transitions. Intervening stadials including the inception of glaciation are linked to the calving of ice sheets into the northern North Atlantic and consequent disruption of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which by means of the thermal bipolar seesaw caused phase-lagged warming events in the Antarctic. The coherence of stadial–interstadial oscillations during MIS 19b–a across the Asian–Pacific and North Atlantic–Mediterranean realms suggests AMOC-originated shifts in the Intertropical Convergence Zone and pacing by equatorial insolation forcing. Low-latitude monsoon dynamics appear to have amplified responses regionally although high-latitude teleconnections may also have played a role.