Prof. Colin Waters (University of Leicester)

Tuesday, February 20 2018 at 7:30PM

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8 Pocklingtons Walk,

Prof. Colin Waters (University of Leicester)

What's the talk about?

Human activity is leaving a pervasive and persistent signature on Earth and vigorous debate continues about whether this warrants recognition as a new geologic time unit: the Anthropocene.

Colin will quantify the scale of this transformation including: the appearance and rapid dispersal of many new mineral forms (including metals, plastics and industrial fly ash), rock types (including concrete) and artificial ground, together with modification of global rivers.  Humans have created chemical signals that include: isotope patterns altered by changes to the carbon and nitrogen cycles at unprecedented rates and magnitudes, dissemination of organic and inorganic pollutants and artificial radionuclides traces, many of which are novel signatures.  Biological evidence includes the consequences of extinctions and geologically unprecedented species invasions.

Recent climate and sea level trends are outside recent geological trajectories.  Human influence on geological successions started thousands of years ago, but the most pronounced changes in most global trends is in the mid-20th century; within the scale of a human lifetime.  These modifications to our planet are global in reach, incredibly abrupt in a geological context and will leave a permanent legacy in geological strata.