Age (Ma)
Quaternary Pleistocene Gelasian younger
Neogene Pliocene Piacenzian 2.58 3.600
Zanclean 3.600 5.333
Miocene Messinian 5.333 7.246
Tortonian 7.246 11.63
Serravallian 11.63 13.82
Langhian 13.82 15.97
Burdigalian 15.97 20.44
Aquitanian 20.44 23.03
Paleogene Oligocene Chattian older
Subdivision of the Neogene Period
according to the ICS, as of 2017.[1]

The Tortonian is in the geologic time scale an age or stage of the late Miocene that spans the time between 11.608 ± 0.005 Ma and 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). It follows the Serravallian and is followed by the Messinian.

The Tortonian roughly overlaps with the regional Pannonian stage of the Paratethys timescale of Central Europe. It also overlaps the upper Astaracian, Vallesian and lower Turolian European land mammal ages, the upper Clarendonian and lower Hemphillian North American land mammal ages and the upper Chasicoan and lower Huayquerian South American land mammal ages.


The Tortonian was introduced by Swiss stratigrapher Karl Mayer-Eymar in 1858. It was named after the Italian city of Tortona in the region Piedmont.

The base of the Tortonian stage is at the last common appearance of calcareous nanoplankton Discoaster kugleri and planktonic foram Globigerinoides subquadratus. It is also associated with the short normal polarized magnetic chronozone C5r.2n. A GSSP for the Tortonian has been established in the Monte dei Corvi section near Ancona (Italy).[2]

The top of the Tortonian (the base of the Messinian) is at the first appearance of the planktonic foram species Globorotalia conomiozea and is stratigraphically in the middle of magnetic chronozone C3Br.1r.

Geologic historyEdit

In 2020, geologists reported two newly identified supervolcano eruptions associated with the Yellowstone hotspot track, including the region's largest and most cataclysmic event – the Grey's Landing super-eruption – which had a volume of at least 2,800 km3 and occurred around 8.72 Ma.[3][4]



  1. ^ "ICS Timescale Chart".
  2. ^ By Hilgen et al. (2005)
  3. ^ Knott, T.R.; Branney, M.J.; Reichow, M.K.; Finn, D.R.; Tapster, S.; Coe, R.S. (2020). "Discovery of two new super-eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot track (USA): Is the Yellowstone hotspot waning?". Geology. 48. doi:10.1130/G47384.1.
  4. ^ "Discovery of Ancient Super-Eruptions Indicates the Yellowstone Hotspot May Be Waning". The Geological Society of America. 3 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.


  • Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G. & Smith, A.G.; 2004: A Geologic Time Scale 2004, Cambridge University Press.
  • Hilgen, F.; Abdul Aziz, H.; Bice, D.; Iaccarino, S.; Krijgsman, W.; Kuiper, K.; Montanari, A.; Raffi, I.; Turco, E. & Zachariasse, W.-J.; 2005: The Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Tortonian Stage (Upper Miocene) at Monte Dei Corvi, Episodes 28, p. 6-17.
  • Mayer-Eymar, K.; 1858: Versuch einer neuen Klassifikation der Tertiär-Gebilde Europa’s, Verhandlungen der Schweizerischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, Jahresversammlung 1857, p. 70–71 & 165–199. (in German)

External linksEdit