An international organization weighing a proposal to name a geological period after Chiba Prefecture has suspended the process due to an allegation of data falsification, a Japanese research team said.

If the name “Chibanian” was selected for the period between 126,000 and 770,000 years ago, it would be the first geological period with a Japanese name.

The International Union of Geological Sciences was examining the team’s proposal, which said a stratum found in Ichikawa, just east of Tokyo, dating back 770,000 years ago deserves to be the internationally agreed upon reference point for the period as concluded by an IUGS panel.

But the screening was halted after a person related to a separate Japanese group told senior IUGS officials and Italian researchers in April that some of the data used by the Japanese team were collected from a different site.

At a news conference Friday, the Japanese researchers admitted using such data but maintained the study used as the basis for the naming proposal was legitimate because the data in question were on a stratum proven to be of the same age.

The Chiba stratum was in competition with two Italian layers for naming the period.

The Japanese team includes researchers from Ibaraki University and the National Institute of Polar Research.

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