Anthropocene Epoch

Anthropocene Epoch

News: According to the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), sediments at Crawford Lake in Canada’s Ontario have provided evidence of the beginning of the Anthropocene epoch.

What is the Anthropocene Epoch?
• The Anthropocene Epoch is a proposed epoch that denotes the present geological time interval, in which the collective activities of human beings (Homo sapiens) have significantly altered the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and systems of nutrient cycling.
• The term Anthropocene is derived from Greek and means the 'recent age of man'.
• The term was coined and made popular by biologist Eugene Stormer and chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000.
• There are numerous phenomena associated with this proposed epoch such as global warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, mass-scale soil erosion, the advent of deadly heat waves, deterioration of the biosphere and other detrimental changes in the environment.

What is the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG)?
• AWG is an interdisciplinary research group dedicated to the study of the Anthropocene as a geological time unit. It was established in 2009 as part of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS), a constituent body of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

What did the AWG find out?
• AWG has studied the sediments at Crawford Lake in Canada’s Ontario. They have revealed that the Anthropocene epoch started sometime between 1950 and 1954. However, scientists still debate whether the Anthropocene is different from the Holocene.
• Moreover, the term Anthropocene has also not been formally adopted by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the international organization that names and defines epochs.
• The primary question that the IUGS needs to answer before declaring the Anthropocene an epoch is if humans have changed the Earth system to the point that it is reflected in the rock strata.

What is the Geological Time Scale?
• The geologic time scale is the calendar for events in Earth’s history.
• It is divided into five broad categories: eons, epochs, eras, periods, epochs and ages. While eon is the broadest category of geological time, age is the smallest category.
• Each of these categories is further divided into sub-categories. For instance, Earth’s history is characterized by four eons, including Hadeon (oldest), Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic (youngest).
• Currently, we are officially in the Phanerozoic eon, Cenozoic era, Quaternary period, Holocene epoch and the Meghalayan age.

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