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Book Chapter

Assessing the Anthropocene with geochemical methods

By
Agnieszka Gałuszka
Agnieszka Gałuszka
Geochemistry and the Environment Division, Institute of Chemistry, Jan Kochanowski University, 15G Świętokrzyska St, 25-406 Kielce, Poland
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Zdzisław M. Migaszewski
Zdzisław M. Migaszewski
Geochemistry and the Environment Division, Institute of Chemistry, Jan Kochanowski University, 15G Świętokrzyska St, 25-406 Kielce, Poland
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Jan Zalasiewicz
Jan Zalasiewicz
Department of Geology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE 1 7RH, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2014

Abstract

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. Methods used by geochemists to assess the scale of anthropogenic influence on the environment include calculations of anthropogenic influence on the environment via enrichment and contamination factors, geoaccumulation index and pollution load index. The use of geochemical background levels for delineating between natural and anthropogenic pollution is important. A historical perspective of anthropogenic contamination, allied with isotopic and geochemical signatures in dated sediment cores, may be applied to help define the Anthropocene.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene

C. N. Waters
C. N. Waters
British Geological Survey, UK
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J. A. Zalasiewicz
J. A. Zalasiewicz
University of Leicester, UK
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M. Williams
M. Williams
University of Leicester, UK
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M. Ellis
M. Ellis
British Geological Survey, UK
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A. M. Snelling
A. M. Snelling
British Geological Survey, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
395
ISBN electronic:
9781862396715
Publication date:
January 01, 2014

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