Mankind Made The Anthropocene Geological Epoch, Scientists Say

First Posted: Mar 07, 2017 05:48 AM EST

Great Oxidation Event is considered as the most revolutionary change in the Earth's environment that dictated all other facets of the planet. Geologists are proposing that the next significant change in the composition of the Earth's strata has been brought about by human activities. Furthermore, while the transformation of the atmosphere and the lithosphere due to the Great Oxidation Event took several centuries to materialize, the anthropogenic influenced geological changes occurred within the last 100-200 years.

Has the World Entered the Anthropocene Geological Epoch?

Many experts are of the opinion that the various changes on and over the surface of the Earth, especially after man-made technological innovations started dominating natural phenomenon, are an indication that the world is in for a major transition. This hypothesis was further augmented by the fact that a recent study conducted by a team of geological experts, under the leadership of Robert Hazen, expert mineralogist from Carnegie Institution for Science, has revealed the formation of 208 new minerals, whose formation was directly or indirectly mediated by mankind, Scientific American reported.

Additionally, incessant littering of plastic wastes has changed the mineralogical composition of the land and ocean floors. These sudden changes in geological patterns, especially in the last two centuries, indicate that the Earth has entered the "Anthropocene geological epoch," Live Science reported.

While a unanimous decision regarding the official designation of Anthropocene geological epoch by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is still pending, the working group on the Anthropocene has conflicting opinions on the impact of human intervention on the stratigraphy of the planet, as note by The Christian Science Monitor.

In order to get the official designation, the working committee first needs to select a Global Standard Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). The point will then function as the point of reference for comparative analyses of fossil records and rock chemistry. If the committee deems that the changes are due to a major stratotype change, then it will be notified to the IUGS.

Thought this process is yet to be initiated, Hazen and his study findings are emphasizing the importance of realization of the man-made changes and their long-term impacts on Earth. "Indeed, if the Great Oxidation eons ago was a 'punctuation event' in Earth's history, the rapid and extensive geological impact of the Anthropocene is an exclamation mark," Hazen explained.

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