What’s on : Symposium

What does the Anthropocene look like?: Evidence for its formalisation as an Epoch

15 Oct 2022
Start time
1:30 PM
The Yorkshire Museum
Professor Colin Waters, Professor Neil Rose, Professor Andy Cundy and Professor Chris Thomas
What does the Anthropocene look like?: Evidence for its formalisation as an Epoch

Event Information

What does the Anthropocene look like?: Evidence for its formalization as an Epoch

Speakers: Profs. Colin Waters (University of Leicester), Neil Rose (University College London), Andy Cundy (University of Southampton), and Chris Thomas (University of York)

1.30pm-1.45pm                YPS Welcome and YGS Society Business

1.45pm-2.15pm                Colin Waters: Understanding of the geological Anthropocene and the current process of its formal definition

2.15pm-2.45pm                Neil Rose: A burning issue: Fossil fuel combustion products as markers for the Anthropocene

2.45pm-3.15pm                Tea and Coffee

3.15pm-3.45pm                Andy Cundy: Nuclear fingerprints of the Anthropocene

3.45pm-4.15pm                Chris Thomas: We are in the Anthropocene epoch: an ecologist’s perspective

4.15pm-4.30pm                Questions and Discussion; Close of Meeting

This is a highly opportune moment for this meeting as in November 2022 the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), the body established to investigate the Anthropocene as a potential addition to the Geological Timescale and International Chronostratigraphic Chart, will be voting on which of 12 sites will be proposed as their preferred reference section and host for the “golden-spike”. Three members of the AWG will be presenting the evidence and a fourth presentation will provide a broader perspective of the impact of humans on the planet’s biota.

Prof. Colin Waters will outline the case for the Anthropocene as an epoch, the range of signals that are indicative of this time interval commencing in the mid-20th century, and describe the 12 candidate localities and why they were selected. Prof. Neil Rose will explain how the products of fossil fuel combustion (including carbon dioxide, fly-ash, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are a major driving force behind much of the environmental change we observe today and how they are recorded in geological materials. Prof. Andy Cundy will explain the significance of radionuclides (particularly plutonium and radiocarbon) from above-ground nuclear testing and how this has fingerprinted the mid-20th century in geological records, and provides a global, almost synchronous marker. Finally, Prof. Chris Thomas provides an ecologist’s view of how the modern transformation of biota sits within a long duration of human modification of the biosphere through hunting, ecosystem change and species translocations.

This series of lecture, hosted  by YPS and YGS, will be held in the Tempest Anderson Lecture Theatre in the Yorkshire Museum, York starting at 1.30 pm.

Image: Neil Rose: Lake Powell Navajo Power Plant