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Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene, A

Product Code: SP395
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by C.N. Waters, J.A. Zalasiewicz, M. Williams, M.A. Ellis and A.M. Snelling
Publication Date: 04 June 2014
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Special Publication 395.

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.

Published online 14/05/2014. Print copy available from 04/06/2014.

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Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-86239-628-9
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 321
Weight: 0.9 kg


An introduction to the Anthropocene: case for and against a new epoch

WATERS, C. N., ZALASIEWICZ, J. A., WILLIAMS, M., ELLIS, M. A. & SNELLING, A. M. A stratigraphical basis for the Anthropocene?

FINNEY, S. C. The ‘Anthropocene’ as a ratified unit in the ICS International Chronostratigraphic Chart: fundamental issues that must be addressed by the Task Group

GIBBARD, P. L. & WALKER, M. J. C. The term ‘Anthropocene’ in the context of formal geological Classification

ZALASIEWICZ, J., WILLIAMS, M. & WATERS, C. N. Can an Anthropocene Series be defined and recognized?

The nature of anthropogenic deposits and landscape modification

FORD, J. R., PRICE, S. J., COOPER, A. H. & WATERS, C. N. An assessment of lithostratigraphy for anthropogenic deposits

EDGEWORTH, M. The relationship between archaeological stratigraphy and artificial ground and its significance in the Anthropocene

ZALASIEWICZ, J., KRYZA, R. & WILLIAMS, M. The mineral signature of the Anthropocene in its deep-time context

SNOWBALL, I., HOUNSLOW, M. W. &NILSSON, A. Geomagnetic and mineral magnetic characterization of the Anthropocene

A biostratigraphical signature for the Anthropocene

WILLIAMS, M., ZALASIEWICZ, J. A.,WATERS, C. N.&LANDING, E. Is the fossil record of complex animal behaviour a stratigraphical analogue for the Anthropocene?

BARNOSKY, A. D. Palaeontological evidence for defining the Anthropocene

HOEGH-GULDBERG, O. Coral reefs in the Anthropocene: persistence or the end of the line?

WILKINSON, I. P., POIRIER, C., HEAD, M. J., SAYER, C. D. & TIBBY, J. Microbiotic signatures of the Anthropocene in marginal marine and freshwater palaeoenvironments

Geochemical signatures and catastrophic events

GAŁUSZKA, A., MIGASZEWSKI, Z. M. & ZALASIEWICZ, J. Assessing the Anthropocene with geochemical methods

FAIRCHILD, I. J. & FRISIA, S. Definition of the Anthropocene: a view from the underworld

WOLFF, E. W. Ice Sheets and the Anthropocene

HANCOCK, G. J., TIMS, S. G., FIFIELD, L. K.&WEBSTER, I. T. The release and persistence of radioactive anthropogenic nuclides

SMITH, V. C. Volcanic markers for dating the onset of the Anthropocene

The technosphere concept

HAFF, P. K. Technology as a geological phenomenon: implications for human well-being



Piotr Migoń, University of Wrocław, Poland

Review featured in Geologos 20.4

The editors of the present volume are clearly in support of the Anthropocene, but in being skeptics as well, they have been given the chance to express their doubts. In my view, this is the greatest strength of this book – it does not try to skip over problems with the formal Anthropocene but instead provides a balanced exchange of opinions. As such, it is very stimulating and thought provoking, worth reading by anyone interested in the wider, conceptual issues in geology. Whether one likes the Anthropocene or not, the debate will surely continue and it will be good to have an opinion. The present book certainly helps to develop one.

Nathan Allen

Featured in Geoscientist 26/4 May 2016

………… This volume compiles evidence from a wide range of disciplines to help constrain the Anthropocene. In doing so it amples deftly from formal stratigraphic definitions and discussion through to a wide range of indicators of anthropological activity which may be used to define the epoch.

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