EDITORIAL

Meghalayan Age

Meghalayan

The most recent age in planet Earth’s history — stretching from 4,200 years ago to the present — has been named after Meghalaya by the International Union of Geological Science (IUGS).

This is because of a highly significant find in Mawmluh cave at Cherrapunjee in the State. A stalagmite on the floor in the depths of this cave has been found to contain a chemical signature — a shift in Oxygen isotope levels indicating mega drought conditions 4,200 years ago.

What is more, it was a global climatic event that rang the death knells for major civilisations across Egypt, the Middle East, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and Yangtze Valley. Other civilisations in the Americas, Africa and northern Europe however escaped, but geologists have long been mystified about what triggered the catastrophe that lasted almost two centuries and set off huge waves of human migrations.

They have noted sudden shifts in atmospheric and oceanic currents that disrupted rainfall patterns on global scale and thereby caused rivers to run dry.

According to IUGS secretary Dr Stanley Finney, the Meghalayan Age is unique as an interval in geological time scale because “its beginning coincides with a cultural event produced by a global climatic event”. Meghalaya has some of the world’s longest, natural sandstone caves, crying out for protection through a strong government policy. Now that the Mawmluh stalagmite is recognised as an international geo-standard, it ought to create wide public appreciation of the scientific importance of Meghalaya’s heritage.