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Title: The Anthropocene : a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere
Authors: Williams, Mark
Zalasiewicz, Jan
Waters, C. N.
Edgeworth, Matt
Bennett, Carys
Barnosky, A. D.
Ellis, E. C.
Ellis, M. A.
Cearreta, A.
Haff, P. K.
do Sul, J. A. I.
Leinfelder, R.
McNeill, J. R.
Odada, E.
Oreskes, N.
Revkin, A.
deB Richter, D.
Steffen, W.
Summerhayes, C.
Syvitski, J. P.
Vidas, D.
Wagreich, M.
Wing, S. L.
Wolfe, A. P.
Zhisheng, A.
First Published: 3-Feb-2016
Publisher: Wiley, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Citation: Earth's Future, 2016, 4, 34–53
Abstract: 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 localised 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 characterise 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 characterised 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.
DOI Link: 10.1002/2015EF000339
eISSN: 2328-4277
Version: Publisher version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2016. All rights reserved. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License ( ), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geology

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