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The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere

Publication ,  Journal Article
Williams, M; Zalasiewicz, J; Waters, CN; Edgeworth, M; Bennett, C; Barnosky, AD; Ellis, EC; Ellis, MA; Cearreta, A; Haff, PK; Ivar Do Sul, JA ...
Published in: Earth's Future
March 1, 2016

Biospheric relationships between production and consumption of biomass have been resilient to changes in the Earth system over billions of years. This relationship has increased in its complexity, from localized ecosystems predicated on anaerobic microbial production and consumption to a global biosphere founded on primary production from oxygenic photoautotrophs, through the evolution of Eukarya, metazoans, and the complexly networked ecosystems of microbes, animals, fungi, and plants that characterize the Phanerozoic Eon (the last 541 million years of Earth history). At present, one species, Homo sapiens, is refashioning this relationship between consumption and production in the biosphere with unknown consequences. This has left a distinctive stratigraphy of the production and consumption of biomass, of natural resources, and of produced goods. This can be traced through stone tool technologies and geochemical signals, later unfolding into a diachronous signal of technofossils and human bioturbation across the planet, leading to stratigraphically almost isochronous signals developing by the mid-20th century. These latter signals may provide an invaluable resource for informing and constraining a formal Anthropocene chronostratigraphy, but are perhaps yet more important as tracers of a biosphere state that is characterized by a geologically unprecedented pattern of global energy flow that is now pervasively influenced and mediated by humans, and which is necessary for maintaining the complexity of modern human societies.

Duke Scholars

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Published In

Earth's Future

DOI

EISSN

2328-4277

Publication Date

March 1, 2016

Volume

4

Issue

3

Start / End Page

34 / 53

Related Subject Headings

  • 3707 Hydrology
  • 3702 Climate change science
  • 0502 Environmental Science and Management
  • 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
  • 0401 Atmospheric Sciences
 

Citation

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Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C. N., Edgeworth, M., Bennett, C., Barnosky, A. D., … Zhisheng, A. (2016). The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere. Earth’s Future, 4(3), 34–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015EF000339
Williams, M., J. Zalasiewicz, C. N. Waters, M. Edgeworth, C. Bennett, A. D. Barnosky, E. C. Ellis, et al. “The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere.” Earth’s Future 4, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 34–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015EF000339.
Williams M, Zalasiewicz J, Waters CN, Edgeworth M, Bennett C, Barnosky AD, et al. The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere. Earth’s Future. 2016 Mar 1;4(3):34–53.
Williams, M., et al. “The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere.” Earth’s Future, vol. 4, no. 3, Mar. 2016, pp. 34–53. Scopus, doi:10.1002/2015EF000339.
Williams M, Zalasiewicz J, Waters CN, Edgeworth M, Bennett C, Barnosky AD, Ellis EC, Ellis MA, Cearreta A, Haff PK, Ivar Do Sul JA, Leinfelder R, McNeill JR, Odada E, Oreskes N, Revkin A, Richter DDB, Steffen W, Summerhayes C, Syvitski JP, Vidas D, Wagreich M, Wing SL, Wolfe AP, Zhisheng A. The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere. Earth’s Future. 2016 Mar 1;4(3):34–53.
Journal cover image

Published In

Earth's Future

DOI

EISSN

2328-4277

Publication Date

March 1, 2016

Volume

4

Issue

3

Start / End Page

34 / 53

Related Subject Headings

  • 3707 Hydrology
  • 3702 Climate change science
  • 0502 Environmental Science and Management
  • 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
  • 0401 Atmospheric Sciences