We propose that the Anthropocene be defined as the last c. 2000 years of the late Holocene and characterized on the basis of anthropogenic soils. This contrasts with the original definition of the Anthropocene as the last c. 250 years (since the Industrial Revolution) and more recent proposals that the Anthropocene began some 5000 to 8000 years ago in the early to mid Holocene (the early-Anthropocene hypothesis). Anthropogenic soil horizons, of which several types are recognized, provide extensive terrestrial stratigraphic markers for defining the start of the Anthropocene. The pedosphere is regarded as the best indicator of the rise to dominance of human impacts on the total environment because it reflects strongly the growing impact of early civilisations over much of the Earth’s surface. Hence, the composition of anthropogenic soils is deemed more appropriate than atmospheric composition in providing ‘golden spikes’ for the Anthropocene.
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