What follows Plastiglomerate? Will it be Plastiorganica?
It’s sadly true, we have created so much plastic waste that our age of human existence will be known by this new type of fossilised rock made partly of plastic. Named plastiglomerate it was first discovered in 2014 on a beach in Hawaii.
Named plastiglomerate it was first discovered in 2014 on a beach in Hawaii. Further study revealed it could be found on many Hawaiian beaches and possibly much further afield, anywhere there is a heat source such as a forest fire, molten lava, or where people burn plastic waste. Plastiglomerate is formed when plastic is burned and the gloopy, oily chemical mix that is left seeps into and mixes with sand, sediment, coral, shells; whatever is below it, creating solid lumps of rock.
The sign of the Anthropocene
Some scientists seem to be quite excited about the idea that far into the future this will be a distinct marker of the Anthropocene, the name given to the era we now live in; the era where human life is affecting everything else on the planet. But I really don’t see anything to be proud of here at all. The idea that when geologists examine the side of a cliff and look at the thin bands of colour and texture to get an understanding of the world when that layer was created is fascinating. To think that we will be recognised by the band of plastic rubbish is just so damn sad.
What’s next, plastiorganica?
In the oceans things are not fairing much better as it has now been noted that planktons are ingesting microplastics. Plankton; the tiny creatures that provide the world with half its oxygen supply. There is plastic in the food chain and we are all ingesting it one way or another. How will this play out? What follows plastiglomerate? Will it be plastiorganica, plasticplankton, plastimammals?
Hererria, C. (2014) The New and Horrible Way Humans are Leaving Their Mark on the Planet. Huffington Post. Available online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/19/plastiglomerate_n_5496062.html (Opens in new page)
Chen, A. (2014) Rocks Made of Plastic Found on Hawaiin Beach. Science Mag. June 4, 2014. Available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/06/rocks-made-plastic-found-hawaiian-beach (Opens in new page)
Image from Science Mag. Available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/06/rocks-made-plastic-found-hawaiian-beach