Humans are the most significant global geomorphological driving force of the 21st Century

Cooper, Anthony H.; Brown, Teresa J.; Price, Simon J.; Ford, Jonathan R.; Waters, Colin N.. 2018 Humans are the most significant global geomorphological driving force of the 21st Century. Anthropocene Review, 5 (3). 222-229.

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The transformation of the Earth’s land surface by mineral extraction and construction is on a scale greater than natural erosive terrestrial geological processes. Mineral extraction statistics can be used as a proxy to measure the size of the total anthropogenic global sediment flux related to mineral extraction and construction. It is demonstrated that the annual direct anthropogenic contribution to the global production of sediment in 2015 was conservatively some 316 Gt (150 km3), a figure more than 24 times greater than the sediment supplied annually by the world’s major rivers to the oceans. The major long-term acceleration in anthropogenic sediment flux started just after the Second World War and anthropogenic sediment flux overtook natural fluvial sediment flux in the mid-1950s. Humans are now the major global geological driving force and an important component of earth system processes in landscape evolution. The changing magnitude of anthropogenic sediments and landforms over time are significant factors in the characterisation of the proposed new epoch of geological time - the Anthropocene.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Additional Keywords: Anthropocene, sediment, mineral extraction, construction, global, geological, landscape evolution, statistics
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 12 Oct 2018 12:55 +0 (UTC)

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