The Anthropocene is not an official stratigraphic unit

by A. Préat and B. Van Vliet-Lanoë, Apr 12,2024 in SCE

Main theme: Ever since the idea of a new geological unit, the Anthropocene, waslaunched in 2000 by Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist and Nobel Prize winner, the scientific community has been inflamed by the current global warming situation, and passionate debates have raged between those in favor of this new anthropogenic unit and those opposed to it. The discussion has spread well beyond the geological community, yet it is geologists, and geologists alone, who are able to formally define geological units, in this case stratigraphic units. Our article will reviewthe rules of stratigraphy and show that the introduction of the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic unit does not comply with these rules. After 15 years of debate, the ICS (International Commission on Stratigraphy) has just officially rejected the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic unit. In conclusion, the Anthropocene must be
considered as a ‘Geo-ethical’ unit and not as a ‘Geological’ unit.

Example of the GSSP stratotype from the Thanetian geological stage (Paleocene, see Figure 1). Note the golden spike (see text below). Photography : Pierre Thomas.