The technofossil record of humans

Zalasiewicz, Jan; Williams, Mark; Waters, Colin N.; Barnosky, Anthony D.; Haff, Peter. 2014 The technofossil record of humans. The Anthropocene Review, 1 (1). 34-43.

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As humans have colonised and modified the Earth’s surface, they have developed progressively more sophisticated tools and technologies. These underpin a new kind of stratigraphy, that we term technostratigraphy, marked by the geologically accelerated evolution and diversification of technofossils – the preservable material remains of the technosphere (Haff, 2013), driven by human purpose and transmitted cultural memory, and with the dynamics of an emergent system. The technosphere, present in some form for most of the Quaternary, shows several thresholds. Its expansion and transcontinental synchronisation in the mid 20th century has produced a global technostratigraphy that combines very high time-resolution, great geometrical complexity and wide (including transplanetary) extent. Technostratigraphy can help characterise the deposits of a potential Anthropocene Epoch and its emergence marks a step change in planetary mode.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2053-0196
Additional Keywords: Anthropocene, human artefacts, stratigraphy, technology
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 11 Apr 2014 13:47 +0 (UTC)

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