The International Union of Geological Sciences has approved a new addition to the geologic time scale: the Ediacaran Period. The Ediacaran is the first Proterozoic period to be recognized on the basis of chronostratigraphic criteria and the first internationally ratified, chronostratigraphically defined period of any age to be introduced in more than a century. In accordance with procedures established by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the base of the Ediacaran Period is defined by a Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) placed at the base of the Nuccaleena Formation cap carbonate directly above glacial diamictites and associated facies at Enorama Creek in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Its top is defined by the initial GSSP of the Cambrian Period. The new Ediacaran Period encompasses a distinctive interval of Earth history that is bounded both above and below by equally distinctive intervals. Both chemostratigraphic and biostratigraphic data indicate that the subdivision of the period into two or more series is feasible, and this should be a primary objective of continuing work by the Ediacaran Subcommission of the ICS.