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posted by martyb on Sunday July 22 2018, @12:37PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the some-folks-just-struggle-with-their-own-age dept.

Welcome to the Meghalayan Age - a new phase in history

The official history of Earth has a new chapter - and we are in it. Geologists have classified the last 4,200 years as being a distinct age in the story of our planet. They are calling it the Meghalayan Age, the onset of which was marked by a mega-drought that crushed a number of civilisations worldwide.

The International Chronostratigraphic Chart, the famous diagram depicting the timeline for Earth's history (seen on many classroom walls) will be updated. It should be said, however, there is disquiet in the scientific community at the way the change has been introduced. Some researchers feel there has been insufficient discussion on the matter since the Meghalayan was first raised as an idea in a scholarly paper [DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2565] [DX] six years ago.

[...] The Meghalayan, the youngest stage, runs from 4,200 years ago to the present. It began with a destructive drought, whose effects lasted two centuries, and severely disrupted civilisations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley. It was likely triggered by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation. The Meghalayan Age is unique among the many intervals of the geologic timescale in that its beginning coincides with a global cultural event produced by a global climatic event, says Stanley Finney, professor of geological sciences at Long Beach State University and Secretary-General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which ratified the ICS proposal.

The middle phase of the Holocene will be referred to as the Northgrippian, and runs from 8,300 years ago up to the start of the Meghalayan. The onset for this age was an abrupt cooling, attributed to vast volumes of freshwater from melting glaciers in Canada running into the North Atlantic and disrupting ocean currents. The oldest phase of the Holocene - the exit from the ice age - will be known as the Greenlandian.

Scientists are still working on defining the (ongoing) Athropocene and some have criticized this new definition.

Related: For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene
Crystals Win in the Anthropocene: 208 Manmade Minerals Identified
Anthropocene News: Scientists Warn of "Sixth Mass Extinction", the Era of "Biological Annihilation"


Original Submission

Related Stories

For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene 30 comments

11,700 years ago, the Earth suffered a catastrophic climate change. As the ice age ended, sea levels rose by 120 meters, the days grew warmer, and many kinds of plant and animal life died out. But one animal began to thrive more than ever before. Homo sapiens, which had already spread to every continent except Antarctica, came up with a new survival strategy. Today, we call it farming.

Thanks in part to that innovation, humans survived to witness the dramatic transition from the Pleistocene epoch to the Holocene—it was the first such geological transition in almost 2 million years. But now geologists say we're witnessing another transition, as we move from the Holocene into an epoch called the Anthropocene. Here's what that means.

[Continues...]

Crystals Win in the Anthropocene: 208 Manmade Minerals Identified 26 comments

Scientists have found over 200 new minerals that exist only due to human activity:

Scientists have identified 208 new minerals that owe their existence wholly or in part to humans. Many in the list have been found down old mine tunnels or on slag heaps where water and even fire have had the opportunity to work up novel compounds.

It is another example, the researchers argue, of our pervasive influence on the planet. New minerals and mineral-like compounds are now being formed faster than at anytime in Earth's history, they say. "These 200 minerals are roughly 4% of the total known minerals, but they all occurred in the last couple of thousand years, most in the last couple of hundred years," explained Robert Hazen from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.

[...] It is further evidence, if more were needed, that Earth has now entered a new epoch. Currently, geologists label the time since the last ice age, 11,700 years ago, as the Holocene. But there is a push to introduce a new classification to reflect the immense, planet-wide changes driven by humans in recent decades - and for it to be called the Anthropocene Epoch. The list of new man-mediated minerals bolsters the case.

Also at The Washington Post, Scientific American, and The Guardian.

On the mineralogy of the "Anthropocene Epoch" (DOI: 10.2138/am-2017-5875) (DX)


Original Submission

Anthropocene News: Scientists Warn of "Sixth Mass Extinction", the Era of "Biological Annihilation" 40 comments

Environmental scientists are warning of a sixth mass extinction, pointing to a decline in vertebrate population sizes, even among species of least concern:

Many scientists say it's abundantly clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction event, meaning three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries. That's terrifying, especially since humans are contributing to this shift.

But that's not even the full picture of the "biological annihilation" people are inflicting on the natural world, according to a study published Monday [open, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1704949114] [DX] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and his co-authors, including well-known Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich, cite striking new evidence that populations of species we thought were common are suffering in unseen ways. "What is at stake is really the state of humanity," Ceballos told CNN.

The authors: Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo.

Also at The Guardian and DW.

Related: For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene
Crystals Win in the Anthropocene: 208 Manmade Minerals Identified


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday July 22 2018, @02:27PM (2 children)

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 22 2018, @02:27PM (#710759) Journal

    attributed to vast volumes of freshwater from melting glaciers in Canada running into the North Atlantic and disrupting ocean currents.

    Damn Canadians, eh?
    Waiiiiiittt...........

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22 2018, @03:15PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22 2018, @03:15PM (#710774)

      Hey, we'll take your melted water. No problem.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Sunday July 22 2018, @04:16PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 22 2018, @04:16PM (#710795) Homepage Journal

    destructive drought . . . in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley.

    No mention of the Americas? Civilizations have come and gone here, some of them due to drought. Some of them left behind pretty extensive works, in the form of stone and adobe works. Road networks have been discovered in the US southwest, that connected various communities, some of which were only discovered because someone followed the road.

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday July 22 2018, @09:48PM

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Sunday July 22 2018, @09:48PM (#710902)

      I suspect the drought mentioned in the article may have been a little early for any of the really extensive North American civilisations, although it might have affected some of the Central American ones?

      The Pueblo people of the South-West may have developed a bit late also, Wikipedia seems to indicate they arose 700 - 900 AD, but of course who knows what else might be found in the region?
      There is no doubt the Mississippian culture was extensive and quite advanced, but it seems to be contact with Europeans that destroyed it.

      I would love to see Cahokia one day.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22 2018, @04:55PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22 2018, @04:55PM (#710807)

    I remember a few elections ago, people voted for "change". It sounds like we'd be stuck in the Northgrippian, if it weren't for this climate changing event.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23 2018, @12:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23 2018, @12:17AM (#710961)

      Covfefian

  • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday July 23 2018, @02:35AM

    by Mykl (1112) on Monday July 23 2018, @02:35AM (#711020)

    I heard they wanted to call it the Mega-Hylian age, but were hit with a C&D from Nintendo...

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