What’s on : Lectures

GALAPAGOS​: Archaeology and the ​Global ​Challenge of Marine Plastics

27 Nov 2018
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Professor John Schofield
GALAPAGOS​: Archaeology and the ​Global ​Challenge of Marine Plastics

Event Information

GALAPAGOS​: Archaeology and the ​Global ​Challenge of Marine Plastics

Professor John Schofield

This talk will take archaeology in a different direction to previous years, recognising it as a method, a way of seeing the world, but not only a​n ancient​ world beyond memory. In this talk I explore the role and the significance of what is being termed ‘contemporary archaeology’, or the archaeology of the latest geological epoch, the Anthropocene, characterised by the ​often ​detrimental impact humans are having on our planet. The talk will describe a new project, coordinated by the Galapagos Conservation Trust, in which various subject specialists are collaborating to create a novel and lasting solution to the significant challenge of marine plastic pollution in the unique and spectacular marine environment of the Galapagos archipelago​, Ecuador​. Approaching 200 years since Darwin presented Galapagos to the World, we intend to use this ​same ​environment ​as a laboratory, ​to demonstrate how ​sustainable ​solutions can be found to one of the marine environment’s greatest threats. ​In this talk I will focus on my archaeological contributions, and my exploration of this extraordinary landscape, but in the context.

The Herman Ramm and Charles Wellbeloved Archaeology Awards will be announced and presented before the lecture

Member’s report

The Herman Ramm and Charles Welbeloved Archaeology Awards were presented before the lecture when Professor Schofield also spoke about the role of the Archaeology Department.

This was no ordinary archaeology lecture, but an exploration of contemporary archaeology; that of our own geological epoch and the detrimental impact of human activity on the planet. The Galapagos Conservation Trust has coordinated a new project with collaborating specialists in various fields to find a lasting solution to the marine plastic pollution affecting the Galapagos archipelago. Its environment is used as a virtual laboratory to find sustainable solutions to one of marine environment’s greatest threats. A plastic-free Galapagos is a daunting challenge considering there is hardly a beach in the world without plastic waste. Investigations include ocean currents and the sources of plastic. The culprits are not only tourists and Galapagos residents but also massive Far Eastern fishing fleets that stay in the southern Pacific for months on end. Among images of some wonderful scenery, there was also one of seahorse wrapped around a cotton bud. Local wildlife finds other uses for the pollution: male cormorants, for example, decorate their nests with colourful plastic fragments to attract more females.

Ken Hutson