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Is the anthropocene a formal unit of geologic time scale?

Date:
February 29, 2016
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
Reserachers tackle the hot topic of whether to define a new 'Anthropocene' epoch as a formal unit of the geologic time scale.
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Golden spike emplaced in bed that is Global Standard Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the Thenetian Stage. Length of "rock hammer": 5 cm.
Credit: Stan Finney and Lucy Edwards; GSA Today

In the March-April issue of GSA Today, Stanley Finney (California State University at Long Beach) and Lucy Edwards (U.S. Geological Survey) tackle the hot topic of whether to define a new "Anthropocene" epoch as a formal unit of the geologic time scale. The term "Anthropocene" has receive significant coverage in both the geoscience and popular press, but little of that coverage has focused on how units of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart (the basis for the geologic time scale) are defined.

Finney and Edwards use this opportunity to explain to the general geoscience audience the criteria for stratigraphic units within the International Stratigraphic Guide, and how decisions are made to define new units or change existing units.

As such, this informative article provides general geologic information that goes beyond the hot topic itself. In the article's conclusion, the authors do not pronounce judgment on whether a new Anthropocene epoch should be created, but rather encourage the geologic community to educate themselves on how stratigraphic units are defined and then contribute to the ongoing discussion.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Stanley C. Finney, Lucy E. Edwards. The “Anthropocene” epoch: Scientific decision or political statement? GSA Today, 2016; 26 (3): 4 DOI: 10.1130/GSATG270A.1

Cite This Page:

Geological Society of America. "Is the anthropocene a formal unit of geologic time scale?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229153116.htm>.
Geological Society of America. (2016, February 29). Is the anthropocene a formal unit of geologic time scale?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 30, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229153116.htm
Geological Society of America. "Is the anthropocene a formal unit of geologic time scale?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229153116.htm (accessed April 30, 2017).