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TS Creator


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Software written by Adam Lugowski for Prof. James Ogg.
Databases compiled by James Ogg and numerous contributing colleagues.

This initial Version 1.0 of our time-scale chart maker has recalibrated all ages to Geologic Time Scale 2004 (Gradstein et al, 2004, Cambridge Univ. Press).

A detailed listing of sources for these compilations will be provided later for download. Please check back soon for an enhanced Version. We would appreciate your comments and suggestions on both the visualization software and on improving/enhancing the default time-scale databases. Send comments to Jim Ogg (Purdue University, USA;

Downloading and starting the program

TS Creator runs under the Java runtime environment (1.5 (Java 5) or higher) and is downloaded and launched from the CHRONOS web site via Java WebStart. With the initial download, the application is cached on your hard drive and run locally. Thereafter, you can run the program offline (without an internet connection). However, if you are online when you start the program, WebStart will automatically check whether an updated version is available from the CHRONOS website


TS Creator Quick Start Guide

When the program starts, you need to load a data file. Click "Load Built-In Data".

Now click on Settings and choose the time interval you would like to see. You have two options:

  • Select by Stage name.
  • Select by a specific age (in millions of years).

Click "Close" to close the Settings window.

Click "Generate" to generate the image. Please be patient, this can take some time.


If you'd like to save the generated image to disk, use the "Save SVG" option from the File menu. SVG is a relatively new file format designed so that the image can be resized and still look good.

Database (about 2000 event-age entries are included in the tables of this initial trial):

This test-prototype version is mainly a Cenozoic-Cretaceous framework (re-calibrated to GTS2004), and contains the following:

(1) Full era-period-series-stages for entire time scale through Precambrian, and sub-stages for Mesozoic.

(2) Magnetic polarity zones (Cenozoic-Cretaceous)

(3) Sequences (Cenozoic-Cretaceous; with "Hardenbol" indications of relative magnitudes of SB and MSF, plus option to display numerical ages).

(4) Cretaceous Ammonite zones and subzones of North America Western Interior, Boreal (England/NW Europe; plus a subset for Ryazinian-Volgian of Russian platform), and Tethyan (SE France, S. Europe).

(5) Planktonic Foram Zones (Cenozoic-Cretaceous; N-P and named Cretaceous ones), FAD & LAD columns of Foram-zone boundary markers, and FAD & LAD columns of "other Foram events"

(6) Calcareous Nannofossil Zones (Cenozoic-Cretaceous; NN-NP, CN-CP, and CC-NC), FAD & LAD columns of Nanno-zone boundary markers, and FAD & LAD columns of .other Nanno events.

How to use it: (a simple step-by-step tutorial)

File Menu

  • Load Built-In Data - Load the datafile built into the program. Recommended for muost uses.
  • Load From File - Load another datafile. Use this if you have custom or updated data.
  • Save SVG - This option is enabled once an image is generated. It lets you save the image as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file.
  • Exit - Quits the program.

Image Menu

  • Settings - Opens the Settings window. Here you can set how you want your image to look. See below for more info about this window.
  • Generate - Once you've set your settings, this option will actually create the image. Note that generating an image can be slow for large time intervals and many selected options, especially on slower computers. The program may appear to be frozen while generating. Please be patient.

Settings Window

There are three different tabs in the Settings window.

Choose Time Interval

This tab lets you select when you'd like your diagram to start (Top of Interval) and when you'd like it to end (Base of Interval)

Both of these are selected in two ways:

  • Stage Name - The program knows about when various stages start and end, and you can use these names to select your interval.
  • Millions of Years - Manually enter the date.

Choose Zonations

This tab lets you select what data columns you'd like on the image.

The window is broken down into two parts:

  • Left side - Here you see all the columns that are present in the data file. The Age column is always available.
    To enable a column, i.e. to have it display on the final image, simply check the checkbox next to its name.
    Some columns have other columns as children. This is simply a way to group them. Disabling the parent column, (ex. Standard Chronostratigraphy) will automatically disable all the children (ex. Eon, Era, Sub-Era, etc). The checkboxes for the disabled columns may still be checked, but they will not be in the final image.

  • Right side - This allows you to set extra options for the column selected (highlighted) on the Left Side:

    • Color - The background color of the column. The program knows about the USGS and UNESCO color schemes. You can also specify your own color (click Choose), or let the program pick a default.
    • Title - Lets you change the title of the column.
    • Width - Lets you change the width of the column. This is useful if you find the text to be too crowded, or there is too much empty space.
    • Up / Down Arrows - This lets you move the columns around with respect to each other. The topmost column on the list will be the left most column on the image.
    • Column-Specific Options - Some types of columns have extra options. Highlighting one of these columns will make the extra options appear in the space below the arrows. See below for more details about these extra options.
Zone Columns These columns display text.
select zone

These options are for the orientation (horizontal or vertical) of the text.

  • Auto Flip Label - Let the program automatically change the orientation if it thinks doing so would make it more readable. The program will do look at each label individually to make this assessment.
  • Normal - Make the text horizontal by default.
  • Vertical - Make the text be on its side by default.

Graph Columns These columns display graphs.
Graph columns
  • Points - Check this if you'd like each datapoint to have an icon. Choose between a square, a circle, or a cross.
  • Line - Check this if you'd like a line to connect the datapoints.
  • Fill - Check this if you'd like the area between the datapoints and the right margin to be filled with a color. Click Choose to pick the color.
  • Range - The range of the data to display. Either enter one manually, or click auto to find one which shows all points with a small margin on each side.

Grouping Columns These columns group other columns together.
grouping columns

  • Add Blank Column - Insert an empty column. This is useful if you want to reserve space in the diagram which you will later fill in by hand in a graphics program.

Sequence Columns These columns show changes in a certain variable, like sea levels.

  • Age Labels - Add a little label to show the age of the event.

Other Columns All other types of columns.

  • No Extra Options.

Other Options

This tab has options that didn't fit anywhere else.

  • Add MouseOver info - This enables "popups". Some data points have more information than can be cleanly displayed, so this is a way to display that extra information.
    Simply move your mouse over the generated image and if more information is available a red circle will appear:
    Clicking (doesn't have to be on the red circle) will pop up a box:
    Use the up/down arrows to scroll the text, and click anywhere on the popup to close it.

    Note: This functionality is saved if you export the SVG file, but the software reading the file must support scripting for it to work.

  • Units per Ma: - This lets you specify how vertically dense the image is. The larger the number here, the more spread out (vertically) the image will be. This is useful if you are interested in time intervals where many things happen close to each other and the image is just too cluttered.

    If you save an SVG file, the file specifies that 30 units should be 1 cm on the printed page. This matters if you import the file into an application like Adobe Illustrator which lets you print the image.