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  • Where in the World Is the Anthropocene? | Science | Smithsonian

    Since it was introduced, the Anthropocene concept has resonated throughout the sciences and humanities. It’s forced people to confront how, in so little time, our species has irreversibly transformed Earth’s climate, landscapes, wildlife and geology.


    • “It’s clear that the community would be more comfortable and feel rather more grounded with a traditional #golden_spike type definition,” says Zalasiewicz. Collecting evidence of signals isn’t enough; they need to identify a location to hammer in the Anthropocene golden spike.

      The group isn’t yet sure where they’ll place it; they’re eyeing sediment cores from the deep ocean or remote lakes where the layered signals are clear. But finding a good core comes with its own set of challenges because the layer of Anthropocene sediment is very thin. “If you went to the deep oceans, you might be talking about a millimeter or two of sediment,” says Waters. “All you need is a bivalve to crawl across the seabed and it’ll churn up the whole of the Anthropocene in one go.” In many places, trash or fishing trawls have already obliterated any potential Anthropocene layers.

      The work of identifying a golden spike location will likely take years. The researchers may need to go out into the field, drill for sediment cores, and do complicated analyses to prove that the signals are consistent and global. Up to this point, AWG members have been doing this work on their own time; now they’ll need to find funding in order to devote themselves to the effort.