We may be on the cusp of a new geological epoch, thanks to the discovery of 208 new man-made minerals.
An amazing new finding by researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science suggests that humankind may be on the brink of a new geological epoch. Researchers have identified 208 new minerals that exist only because of humans, suggesting that our influence on the Earth extends into the geological realm as well.
Our activities are creating droves of new minerals and compounds at a faster rate than has ever been seen in the history of the Earth, according to a statement from Carnegie. These minerals make up a significant amount of known minerals: about four percent, infact. And they all were created in the last couple thousand years.
Many on the list were found in old mine tunnels or other places where water and fire channeled by humans have resulted in the creation of these new compounds. Humans have created a world where chemical reactions can take place between materials that in the past would never have come into contact.
Says Dr. Hazen, who co-wrote the paper with Edward Grew of the University of Maine, and Marcus Origlieri and Robert Downs of the University of Arizona: “Mineral evolution has continued throughout Earth’s history. It has taken 4.5 billion years for combinations of elements to meet naturally on Earth at a specific location, depth and temperature, and to form into the more than 5,200 minerals officially recognized today. The majority of these have arisen since the Great Oxidation event 2 billion years ago. “