Scientists Identify Lake Near Toronto as Marker of Earth’s New Epoch, the Anthropocene.

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Scientists from the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) have released evidence suggesting that the planet has entered a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. This epoch is characterized by significant alterations to Earth’s geology, atmosphere, and biology due to human activity. Crawford Lake, located near Toronto, Canada, holds crucial evidence of this geological transition.

Distinct Environmental Markers at Crawford Lake

Crawford Lake’s depth of 29 meters provides an ideal environment for studying historical environmental changes. The sediment at the lake’s bottom contains preserved records of humanity’s impact on Earth’s atmosphere, soil, and biology. Dr. Simon Turner, the AWG’s secretary from University College London, emphasizes the lake’s sediments as an exquisite record of recent environmental change.

The “Golden Spike” and Plutonium

Scientists aim to identify the exact start of the Anthropocene epoch by identifying a “golden spike” in the sediment layers. One significant component of this spike is the presence of plutonium, which experts believe originated from nuclear testing in the 1950s. Unprecedented levels of plutonium in global samples from that era demonstrate humanity’s dominant role in leaving a unique global “fingerprint” on the planet, according to Professor Andrew Cundy from the University of Southampton.

Defining the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene derives its name from Greek terms meaning “human” and “new.” Scientists propose various geological indicators to mark the beginning of this epoch, including microplastic pollution, coal ash, and high concentrations of fertilizers. These markers coincide with “The Great Acceleration,” a surge in human activity since the mid-20th century. The AWG suggests that the Anthropocene began between 1950 and 1954, but some experts question whether humans’ short existence on Earth justifies defining it as an epoch.

Official Recognition and Conference in 2024

The evidence supporting the Anthropocene is still under evaluation, and a final decision will be made at a conference in 2024. The proposal must be approved by three groups of geologists before being officially recognized. If accepted, it would mark the end of the Holocene epoch, which has lasted for the past 11,700 years, and solidify the Anthropocene as the current geological period defined by humanity’s profound impact on the planet.

SOURCE: Ref Image from The Globe and Mail

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