EARTHTIME is an organized, community-based international scientific initiative aimed at sequencing Earth history through the integration of high-precision geochronology and quantitative chronostratigraphy. Our main goal is the development of the geochronological techniques necessary to produce temporal constraints with uncertainties approaching 0.1 percent of the radioisotopic ages.
There are many fundamental problems in Earth's history that can be addressed with a highly-resolved, calibrated time scale because temporal relations are often keys to causality arguments in Earth history, and our understanding of these processes depends on precise knowledge of both dates and rates. For example, a better calibrated time scale will provide insight into biological evolution, adaptive radiations, extinctions and recoveries, climate change, catastrophes, and a better understanding of how Earth as a complete system evolved. Additionally, a deeper appreciation of the importance of geological time and the timescales at which biologic and climatic processes occur is crucial for our continued stewardship of Earth.
In addition to new laboratory and machine procedures, EARTHTIME's goals for improving the precision of uranium-lead geochronology also depend on developing robust software systems for data-handling. The Cyber Infrastructure and Development Lab for the Earth Sciences (CIRDLES.org) is leading this effort on behalf of EARTHTIME. CIRDLES.org develops open source software and provides community forums to support EARTHTIME and EarthChem. The software packages "Tripoli" and "U-Pb_Redux" currently support ID-TIMS. Software support for LA-ICP MS is under development.
Most of the research opportunities that EARTHTIME provides require unprecedented community-wide cooperation and collaboration. You can see some possibilities here or view a graphic that illustrates an example of what can be done.