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Are we now living in the Anthropocene?

Zalasiewicz, Jan; Williams, Mark; Smith, Alan; Barry, Tiffany L.; Coe, Angela L.; Bown, Paul R.; Brenchley, Patrick J.; Cantrill, David; Gale, Andrew; Gibbard, Philip; Gregory, F. John; Hounslow, Mark W.; Kerr, Andrew C.; Pearson, Paul; Knox, Robert; Powell, John; Waters, Colin; Marshall, John; Oates, Michael; Rawson, Peter; Stone, Philip. 2008 Are we now living in the Anthropocene? GSA Today, 18 (2). 4-8. 10.1130/GSAT01802A.1

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Abstract/Summary

The term Anthropocene, proposed and increasingly employed to denote the current interval of anthropogenic global environmental change, may be discussed on stratigraphic grounds. A case can be made for its consideration as a formal epoch in that, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, Earth has endured changes sufficient to leave a global stratigraphic signature distinct from that of the Holocene or of previous Pleistocene interglacial phases, encompassing novel biotic, sedimentary, and geochemical change. These changes, although likely only in their initial phases, are sufficiently distinct and robustly established for suggestions of a Holocene–Anthropocene boundary in the recent historical past to be geologically reasonable. The boundary may be defined either via Global Stratigraphic Section and Point (“golden spike”) locations or by adopting a numerical date. Formal adoption of this term in the near future will largely depend on its utility, particularly to earth scientists working on late Holocene successions. This datum, from the perspective of the far future, will most probably approximate a distinctive stratigraphic boundary.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1130/GSAT01802A.1
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > Geology and Landscape England
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 18 Mar 2009 13:38
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/6725

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