Skip to Main Content
GEOREF RECORD

Humans as geologic agents; a deep-time perspective

Bruce H. Wilkinson
Humans as geologic agents; a deep-time perspective
Geology (Boulder) (March 2005) 33 (3): 161-164

Abstract

Humans move increasingly large amounts of rock and sediment during various construction activities, and mean rates of cropland soil loss may exceed rates of formation by up to an order of magnitude, but appreciating the actual importance of humans as agents of global erosion necessitates knowledge of prehistoric denudation rates imposed on land surfaces solely by natural processes. Amounts of weathering debris that compose continental and oceanic sedimentary rocks provide one such source of information and indicate that mean denudation over the past half-billion years of Earth history has lowered continental surfaces by a few tens of meters per million years. In comparison, construction and agricultural activities currently result in the transport of enough sediment and rock to lower all ice-free continental surfaces by a few hundred meters per million years. Humans are now an order of magnitude more important at moving sediment than the sum of all other natural processes operating on the surface of the planet. Relationships between temporal trends in land use and global population indicate that humans became the prime agents of erosion sometime during the latter part of the first millennium A.D.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 33
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Humans as geologic agents; a deep-time perspective
Author(s): Wilkinson, Bruce H.
Affiliation: University of Michigan, Department of Geological Sciences, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Pages: 161-164
Published: 200503
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 28
Accession Number: 2005-030931
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200517
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal