VAN Details

The Onset of the Anthropocene - Defining a Global Reference Point

12.01.2023

The AWG has evaluated 12 candidate sites for an Anthropocene GSSP. All sites are marked by anthropogenic and geochemical changes.

Following several years of research on stratigraphic markers with a significant global distribution, members of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) have proposed 12 candidate sites for defining the Anthropocene.

Their task now is to select one of these sites to define a global boundary stratotype section and point (short GSSP) that will mark the onset of the Anthropocene. If the Anthropocene is formalised as a new epoch in Earth's history, it will be added to the geological time scale and set an end to the current Holocene epoch.

One of the potential sites in discussion is located in Vienna where VAN co-founder Michael Wagreich and his team carry out research on anthropogenic sediments. You can read more on their project 'The Anthropocene Surge: Evolution, Expansion and Depth of Vienna’s urban Environment' here.

For relevant publications on Anthropocene markers and GSSP candidate sites, see the links below.

Photo of a golden spike (GSSP) marker in a rock layer

GSSP at Zumaia section, Spanish Basque Country