A practical solution: the Anthropocene is a geological event, not a formal epoch

  • Gibbard P
  • Bauer A
  • Edgeworth M
  • et al.
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The Anthropocene has yet to be defined in a way that is functional both to the international geological commu- nity and to the broader fields of environmental and social sciences. Formally defining the Anthropocene as a chro- nostratigraphical series and geochronological epoch with a precise global start date would drastically reduce the Anthropocene’s utility across disciplines. Instead, we propose the Anthropocene be defined as a geological event, thereby facilitating a robust geological definition linked with a scholarly framework more useful to and congruent with the many disciplines engaging with human-environment interactions. Unlike formal epochal definitions, geologi- cal events can recognize the spatial and temporal hetero- geneity and diverse social and environmental processes that interact to produce anthropogenic global environ- mental changes. Consequently, an Anthropocene Event would incorporate a far broader range of transformative human cultural practices and would be more readily applicable across academic fields than an Anthropocene Epoch, while still enabling a robust stratigraphic characterization.




Gibbard, P. L., Bauer, A. M., Edgeworth, M., Ruddiman, W. F., Gill, J. L., Merritts, D. J., … Ellis, E. C. (2021). A practical solution: the Anthropocene is a geological event, not a formal epoch. Episodes. https://doi.org/10.18814/epiiugs/2021/021029

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