|1 November 2012
GSA Release No. 12-81
Shanghai in Sept. 2007. Rapidly growing megacities are highly visible symbols of the transformation of Earth's surface by humankind. Photo by Mark Williams, from the cover of the February 2008 issue of GSA Today.
Hoover Dam as photographed by Ansel Adams in 1941.
Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
Anthropocene Continues to Spark Scientific Debate
GSA Annual Meeting Technical Session: "Geomorphology of the Anthropocene"
Boulder, Colorado, USA - How have humans influenced Earth? Can geoscientists measure when human impacts began overtaking those of Earth's other inhabitants and that of the natural Earth system? Responding to increasing scientific recognition that humans have become the foremost agent of change at Earth's surface, organizers of this GSA technical session have brought together speakers and poster presentations from a variety of sources in order to answer these questions and define the "Geomorphology of the Anthropocene."
"Anthropocene" is a fairly new term (first used ca. 2002 by Paul Crutzen) now being applied to the current global environment and its domination by human activity (see J. Zalasiewicz et al.’s 2008 GSA Today article “Are we now living in the Anthropocene” [v. 18, no. 2, p. 4]). This "era" or "epoch" spans a yet-undetermined but so far brief (in geologic terms) time scale potentially marking the end of the Holocene epoch.
Session organizers Anne Jefferson of Kent State University, Karl Wegmann of North Carolina State University, and Anne Chin of the University of Colorado Denver have gathered presentations addressing human interactions with Earth's systems. Research studies span a range of temporal and spatial scales and investigate a variety of influences, including the effects of indigenous culture as well as dams and cities.
Chin says that part of the research is spurred by "the difficulty of finding any place (no matter how 'pristine') where the landscape hasn't been affected by human activities." She cites the U.S. National Research Council's "Grand Challenge" in Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface (2010) to determine how Earth's surface may evolve in the Anthropocene.
Chin also points to the intensification of debate over "Anthropocene" and the time frame it encompasses as scientists, policymakers, the media, and the public become increasingly aware of the term. A goal of this session is to address the debate and add a greater base of scientific understanding to round out the popularity of the idea.
Three Geological Society of American (GSA) specialty divisions cosponsor this session: the GSA Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division, the GSA Geology and Society Division, and the GSA Archaeological Geology Division, thus bringing to bear a multidisciplinary perspective to the problem. Talks include "An early Anthropocene analog: Ancient Maya impacts on the Earth's surface"; "Removing streams from the landscape: Counting the buried streams beneath urban landscapes"; and Anthropogenic influences on rates of coastal change.”
Papers from this session will be compiled into a special issue of Anthropocene, a new journal launching in 2013 by Elsevier, devoted to addressing one of the grand challenges of our time.
Session 8: T24. Geomorphology of the Anthropocene: The Surficial Legacy of Past and Present Human Activities
When: Sunday, 4 Nov., 8 a.m. to noon
Where: Charlotte Convention Center, Room 207A
Poster Session: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2012AM/webprogram/Session31925.html
When: Sunday, 4 Nov., 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Charlotte Convention Center Hall B
Anne J. Jefferson: , +1-980-213-5933
Karl W. Wegmann:
Anne Chin: , +1-979-492-0074
Find out what else is new and newsworthy by browsing the complete technical program schedule at https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2012AM/finalprogram/.
To identify presentations in specific areas of interest, search topical sessions by discipline categories or sponsors using the drop-down menus at www.geosociety.org/meetings/2012/sessions/topical.asp, or use your browser's "find" feature to search for keywords or convener names.
Representatives of the media and public information officers from universities, government agencies, and research institutions, may participate in technical sessions, field trips, and other special events at the Annual Meeting. Eligible media personnel will receive complimentary registration and are invited to use GSA's newsroom facilities while at the meeting. Journalists and PIOs must pay for any short courses or field trips in which they wish to participate.
For information on media eligibility, go to www.geosociety.org/meetings/2012/media.htm. Media personnel may register onsite in the GSA Newsroom (room 204) at the Charlotte Convention Center. Wireless Internet access and a quiet space for interviews will be provided in the newsroom, along with beverages and light snacks throughout the day.
Newsroom Hours of Operation
• Saturday, 3 Nov., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
• Sunday, 4 Nov., through Tuesday, 6 Nov., 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, 7 Nov., 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Newsroom telephone number (incoming calls): +1-704-339-6207 (starting Saturday afternoon).
Contact Christa Stratton, GSA Director of Communications & Marketing, for additional information and assistance.
The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 25,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.