The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene

Waters, Colin N.; Zalasiewicz, Jan; Summerhayes, Colin; Barnosky, Anthony D.; Poirier, Clement; Ga uszka, Agnieszka; Cearreta, Alejandro; Edgeworth, Matt; Ellis, Erle C.; Ellis, Michael; Jeandel, Catherine; Leinfelder, Reinhold; McNeill, J.R.; Richter, Daniel deB; Steffen, Will; Syvitski, James; Vidas, Davor; Wagreich, Michael; Williams, Mark; Zhisheng, An; Grinevald, Jacques; Odada, Eric; Oreskes, Naomi; Wolfe, Alexander P.. 2016 The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science, 351 (6269), aad2622.

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Human activity is leaving a pervasive and persistent signature on Earth. Vigorous debate continues about whether this warrants recognition as a new geologic time unit known as the Anthropocene. We review anthropogenic markers of functional changes in the Earth system through the stratigraphic record. The appearance of manufactured materials in sediments − including aluminum, plastics and concrete − coincides with global spikes in fallout radionuclides and particulates from fossil-fuel combustion. Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles have been substantially modified over the last century. Rates of sea-level rise, and the extent of human perturbation of the climate system, exceed Late Holocene changes. Biotic changes include species invasions worldwide and accelerating rates of extinction. These combined signals render the Anthropocene stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene and earlier epochs.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0036-8075
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 28 Jan 2016 15:40 +0 (UTC)

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