A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene
Humankind has pervasively influenced the Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere, arguably to the point of fashioning a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. To constrain the Anthropocene as a potential formal unit within the Geological Time Scale, a spectrum of indicators of anthropogenically-induced environmental change is considered, and shown as stratigraphical signals that may be used to characterize an Anthropocene unit, and to recognize its base. This volume describes a range of evidence that may help to define this potential new time unit and details key signatures that could be used in its definition. These signatures include lithostratigraphical (novel deposits, minerals and mineral magnetism), biostratigraphical (macro- and micro-palaeontological successions and human-induced trace fossils) and chemostratigraphical (organic, inorganic and radiogenic signatures in deposits, speleothems and ice and volcanic eruptions). We include, finally, the suggestion that humans have created a further sphere, the technosphere, that drives global change.
Assessing the Anthropocene with geochemical methods
Published:January 01, 2014
Agnieszka Gałuszka, Zdzisław M. Migaszewski, Jan Zalasiewicz, 2014. "Assessing the Anthropocene with geochemical methods", A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene, C. N. Waters, J. A. Zalasiewicz, M. Williams, M. Ellis, A. M. Snelling
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Anthropogenic chemical contamination is one of the most evident signals of human influence on the environment. The large amounts of industrially produced pollutants that have been introduced, over decades, into air, soil and water have caused modifications to natural elemental cycling. Anthropogenic contamination usually leads to enrichment in many elements, particularly in industrial areas. Thus, certain elements and their isotopes can be used as geochemical tracers of anthropogenic impact. Some human-induced changes in the environment may be regarded as a secondary effect of pollution, such as acidification, which causes increased geochemical mobility of several trace elements in surficial deposits....