A study carried out by University College London and the University of New South Wales in Australia has determined that the Earth has entered a new phase of its geological history, one shaped by the actions of humanity. Called the "Anthropocene," this new age of geologic time, according to the authors of the study published in Science Reports Magazine, to have begun in 1965.
Researchers employed a number of methods to establish that humanity had begun to leave traces of its activity in the geological record, the so-called "Golden Spike." While it has been difficult for scientists to agree on an exact starting point for the Golden Spike, it is generally agreed to have occurred after the Second World War due to the unprecedented expansion of the global economy and the production to never-before-seen levels of plastics and other non-biodegradable products.
The report itself is based on information gathered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition which took place in 2013 and 2014.
The Sitka Spruce
Scientists looking for the definitive point in time at which the human impact on the planet became truly global have focussed their attention on what has been dubbed the "loneliest tree on earth," the Sitka Spruce on Campbell Island some 200km south of New Zealand. The tree contains the residue of nuclear weapons tests carried out in the 1950s and ‘60s.
"We're putting this forward as a serious contender to mark the start of the Anthropocene. It's got to be something that reflects a global signal," Professor Chris Turney said in a statement to the BBC.