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Current Affairs

Anthropocene: Scientists votes for new geological epoch

Date: 31 May 2019 Tags: Geography & Environment

The 34-member panel of Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) has voted by 29-4 votes (i.e 90%) in favour of designating a new geological epoch called Anthropocene. It signifies end of present Holocene Epoch, which began 11,700 years ago.

With this, AWG now plans to submit formal proposal for new epoch by 2021 to International Commission on Stratigraphy, which oversees official geologic time chart.  The final ratification of new epoch will be made by executive committee of International Union of Geological Sciences.

The focus of AGW is now to identify golden spike to signal beginning of Anthropocene Epoch. Many in AWG believe that artificial radionuclides spread across the world by atomic bomb tests from early 1950s will serve as golden spike to signal the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch.

About Anthropocene

The term was coined in 2000 by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer. It denotes present geological time interval in which human activity has profoundly altered many conditions and processes on Earth. According to AWG, phenomena associated with Anthropocene include increase in erosion and sediment transport associated with urbanisation and agriculture, rapid environmental changes, global dispersion of many new ‘minerals’ and ‘rocks’ including concrete, fly ash and plastics, and the myriad ‘technofossils’ produced from these and other materials.

Terminologies

Epoch: In geochronology, epoch is subdivision of geologic timescale that is longer than age but shorter than period. The current epoch is Holocene Epoch of Quaternary Period.

Golden Spike: It is definitive geologic marker. It is technically called Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point. It must be present globally and should be part of deposits for geological record.