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Abstract

We consider the Anthropocene as a physical, chronostratigraphic unit across terrestrial and marine sedimentary facies, from both a present and a far future perspective, provisionally using an approximately 1950 CE base that approximates with the ‘Great Acceleration’, worldwide sedimentary incorporation of A-bomb-derived radionuclides and light nitrogen isotopes linked to the growth in fertilizer use, and other markers. More or less effective recognition of such a unit today (with annual/decadal resolution) is facies-dependent and variably compromised by the disturbance of stratigraphic superposition that commonly occurs at geologically brief temporal scales, and that particularly affects soils, deep marine deposits and the pre-1950 parts of current urban areas. The Anthropocene, thus, more than any other geological time unit, is locally affected by such blurring of its chronostratigraphic boundary with Holocene strata. Nevertheless, clearly separable representatives of an Anthropocene Series may be found in lakes, land ice, certain river/delta systems, in the widespread dredged parts of shallow-marine systems on continental shelves and slopes, and in those parts of deep-water systems where human-rafted debris is common. From a far future perspective, the boundary is likely to appear geologically instantaneous and stratigraphically significant.

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