In the March-April issue of GSA Today, Stanley Finney (California State University at Long Beach) and Lucy Edwards (U.S. Geological Survey) tackle the hot topic of whether to define a new “Anthropocene” epoch as a formal unit of the geologic time scale. The term “Anthropocene” has receive significant coverage in both the geoscience and popular press, but little of that coverage has focused on how units of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart (the basis for the geologic time scale) are defined.
Finney and Edwards use this opportunity to explain to the general geoscience audience the criteria for stratigraphic units within the International Stratigraphic Guide, and how decisions are made to define new units or change existing units.
As such, this informative article provides general geologic information that goes beyond the hot topic itself. In the article’s conclusion, the authors do not pronounce judgment on whether a new Anthropocene epoch should be created, but rather encourage the geologic community to educate themselves on how stratigraphic units are defined and then contribute to the ongoing discussion.
The: “Anthropocene” epoch: Scientific decision or political statement? Stanley C. Finney, Dept. of Geological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, California 90277, USA; and Lucy E. Edwards, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA. GSA Today, v. 26, no. 3-4, p. 4-10, DOI: 10.1130/GSATG270A.1