Defining the Anthropocene

  title={Defining the Anthropocene},
  author={S. Lewis and M. Maslin},
Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth’s state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the… Expand

Figures and Tables from this paper

Evaluating the Anthropocene: is there something useful about a geological epoch of humans?
The concept of the Anthropocene has become increasingly prominent in recent years, but is it best defined as a geological period or as part of a longer-term pattern of human actions? And when did itExpand
The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene
C climatic, biological, and geochemical signatures of human activity in sediments and ice cores, Combined with deposits of new materials and radionuclides, as well as human-caused modification of sedimentary processes, the Anthropocene stands alone stratigraphically as a new epoch beginning sometime in the mid–20th century. Expand
Geo-ecology in the Anthropocene
Human activities have left signatures on the Earth for millennials, and these impacts are growing in the last decades. As a consequence, recent global change suggests that Earth may have entered aExpand
A transparent framework for defining the Anthropocene Epoch
Lewis and Maslin (2015) applied modern geological requirements to a systematic search for evidence of markers that could be used to define a new geological time unit, the Anthropocene Epoch. TheseExpand
The geomorphology of the Anthropocene: emergence, status and implications
The Anthropocene is proposed as a new interval of geological time in which human influence on Earth and its geological record dominates over natural processes. A major challenge in demarcating theExpand
The Anthropocene as Process: Why We Should View the State of the World through a Deep Historical Lens
The geological community and the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) are moving ever closer to formalizing a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene. First proposed to raise awareness for planetaryExpand
Three flaws in defining a formal ‘Anthropocene’
The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) of the Subcommission of Quaternary Stratigraphy of the International Commission on Stratigraphy is moving toward recommending that the start of a formallyExpand
The Anthropocene: Comparing Its Meaning in Geology (Chronostratigraphy) with Conceptual Approaches Arising in Other Disciplines
The term Anthropocene initially emerged from the Earth System science community in the early 2000s, denoting a concept that the Holocene Epoch has terminated as a consequence of human activities.Expand
Waiting for the Anthropocene
  • Carlos Santana
  • Geography
  • The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2019
The idea that we are living in the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch defined by human activity, has gained substantial currency across the academy and with the broader public. Within the earthExpand
The Rock Cycle of the Anthropocene: inserting human agency into the Earth System
The Rock Cycle, or Geological Cycle concept, represents an ideal model for the formation of new geological materials from pre-existing geological materials, and has been extensively studied and usedExpand


Archaeology. Archaeologists say the 'Anthropocene' is here--but it began long ago.
Archaeologists have argued that human impacts on the Earth are dramatic enough to merit a new epoch name—but they also argued that such an epoch should start thousands of years ago, rather than focusing on a relatively sudden planetwide change. Expand
The Anthropocene: a new epoch of geological time?
Questions of the scale, magnitude and significance of this environmental change, particularly in the context of the Earth’s geological history, provide the basis for this Theme Issue. Expand
The term ‘Anthropocene’ in the context of formal geological classification
Abstract In recent years, ‘Anthropocene’ has been proposed as an informal stratigraphic term to denote the current interval of anthropogenic global environmental change. A case has also been made toExpand
Hello Anthropocene, Goodbye Holocene
The debate about an Anthropocene Epoch that follows the Holocene Epoch is lively, extensive and contentious. Since its informal introduction about 15 years ago, some reject the need for a new epochExpand
Inventing the Present: Historical Roots of the Anthropocene
In 1833, Charles Lyell proposed that the current post-glacial geological epoch be termed Recent. In the late 1860s, Paul Gervais suggested Holocene as a more appropriate name for the same epoch. InExpand
A stratigraphical basis for the Anthropocene?
Abstract Recognition of intimate feedback mechanisms linking changes across the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere demonstrates the pervasive nature of humankind's influence, perhaps toExpand
Ice Sheets and the Anthropocene
Abstract Ice could play a role in identifying and defining the Anthropocene. The recurrence of northern hemisphere glaciation and the stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet are both potentiallyExpand
Geology of mankind
  • P. Crutzen
  • Environmental Science, Geology
  • Nature
  • 2002
It seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ to the present, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch, supplementing the Holocene—the warm period of the past 10–12 millennia. Expand
Can an Anthropocene Series be defined and recognized?
Abstract We consider the Anthropocene as a physical, chronostratigraphic unit across terrestrial and marine sedimentary facies, from both a present and a far future perspective, provisionally usingExpand
The Palaeoanthropocene – The beginnings of anthropogenic environmental change
Abstract As efforts to recognize the Anthropocene as a new epoch of geological time are mounting, the controversial debate about the time of its beginning continues. Here, we suggest the termExpand