The Tonian and Cryogenian periods (ca. 1000–635.5 Ma) witnessed important biological and climatic events, including diversification of eukaryotes, the rise of algae as primary producers, the origin of Metazoa, and a pair of Snowball Earth glaciations. The Tonian and Cryogenian will also be the next periods in the geological time scale to be formally defined. Time-calibrating this interval is essential for properly ordering and interpreting these events and establishing and testing hypotheses for paleoenvironmental change. Here, we briefly review the methods by which the Proterozoic time scale is dated and provide an up-to-date compilation of age constraints on key fossil first and last appearances, geological events, and horizons during the Tonian and Cryogenian periods. We also develop a new age model for a ca. 819–740 Ma composite section in Svalbard, which is unusually complete and contains a rich Tonian fossil archive. This model provides useful preliminary age estimates for the Tonian succession in Svalbard and distinct carbon isotope anomalies that can be globally correlated and used as an indirect dating tool.

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