S. C. Finney, 2014. "The ‘Anthropocene’ as a ratified unit in the ICS International Chronostratigraphic Chart: fundamental issues that must be addressed by the Task Group", A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene, C. N. Waters, J. A. Zalasiewicz, M. Williams, M. Ellis, A. M. Snelling
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The proposal that the ‘Anthropocene’ should be ratified as a unit of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart/Geological Time Scale deserves serious consideration by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). The ‘Anthropocene’ task group within the ICS Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy is responsible for producing a recommendation to be evaluated and considered for approval at high levels in the ICS organization. It must consider the rank and extent of the unit as well as a GSSP or GSSA that defines its lower boundary or beginning. Furthermore, the task group must address several questions related to the proposed unit and the nature of the ICS chart/timescale that are unique to it. Is the ‘Anthropocene’ a concept in search of a distinct stratigraphic record? Should it be defined on a stratigraphic signal or on a date in human history? Is the ‘Anthropocene’ a unit of Earth history or human history or primarily a future projection? Is the ‘Anthropocene’ useful as a chronostratigraphic unit on geological maps? Has the perceived change to a human-dominated Earth system overwhelmed the natural Earth system? What is the conceptual basis of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart/Geologic Time Scale? Will the term ‘Anthropocene’ have value even if not ratified as a formal unit?
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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.