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  • Recently geologists have said sediments at Crawford Lake in Canada’s Ontario have provided evidence of the beginning of the Anthropocene epoch.


  • Members of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), which has been working since 2009 to make the Anthropocene part of the planet’s time scale.
  • They revealed the findings after analysing the lake’s bottom sediments, which have over the years captured the fallouts of large-scale burning of fossil fuels, explosion of nuclear weapons and dumping of plastic and fertilisers on land and in water bodies.
  • The data show a clear shift from the mid-20th century, taking Earth’s system beyond the normal bounds of the Holocene (the epoch that started at the end of the last ice age 11,700 years ago).
  • Notably, not every geologist agrees that the Anthropocene epoch is a reality as there are disagreements within the scientific community regarding when it began, or has it already begun, or if they have enough evidence to prove its advent.


  • Anthropocene epoch — a proposed geological epoch that began when human activity started to have a significant impact on the Earth.

  • The Anthropocene epoch as a term was first coined by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen and biology professor Eugene Stoermer in 2000.
  • It was coined to denote the present geological time interval, in which the Earth’s ecosystem has gone through radical changes due to human impact, especially since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.
  • There are numerous phenomena associated with this epoch:
    • such as global warming,
    • sea-level rise,
    • ocean acidification,
    • mass-scale soil erosion,
    • the advent of deadly heat waves,
    • deterioration of the biosphere
    • other detrimental changes in the environment.
  • Many of these changes will persist for millennia or longer, and are altering the trajectory of the Earth System, some with permanent effect.
  • They are being reflected in a distinctive body of geological strata now accumulating, with potential to be preserved into the far future.


  • The 79 feet deep and 25,800 square-feet-wide Crawford Lake was chosen for examination by the geologists over 11 other potential sites as its layers of sediment preserved the annual impact of human activities on the Earth’s soil, atmosphere and biology.
  • There are distinct and multiple signals starting around 1950 in the water body, which showed that “the effects of humans overwhelm the Earth system.
  • Presence of plutonium (due to detonation of nuclear weapons) gives us a stark indicator of when humanity became such a dominant force that it could leave a unique global ‘fingerprint’ on our planet.


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