The island of Trindade is an island in the Atlantic. Away from it all. Or maybe not that much. Because researchers have just found traces of human pollution there. Plastic which, mixed with the natural materials of the island, has formed rocks of a new kind.
The history of the volcanic island of Trindade, located nearly 1,150 kilometers off the coast of Brazil, is unique. It was discovered in 1501. But it was Edmond Halley – yes, the English astronomer – who literally took possession of it in 1700. He landed goats, sheep and pigs there which, over the years, l have devastated. After an eradication campaign finally launched in the 1990s, nature reclaimed its rights. Or almost, report to us todayresearchers from the Federal University of Paraná(Brazil).
Biodiversity: a devastated island, Trindade, is slowly repopulating
On this uniquely biodiverse island, where thousands of green sea turtles – the Chelonia mydas of which Trindade is one of the main conservation sites – come to lay their eggs, they have made a discovery which they call “terrifying”. Plastic rocks. Plastiglomerates, as the researchers call them. Kinds of conglomerates made of sediment and debris held together… by plastic. But also plastipierres of homogeneous composition, igneous rocks of natural appearance.
Welcome to the Anthropocene
According to the researchers, this plastic comes mainly from fishing nets that wash up on the beaches of the island of Trindade. When the sun raises the temperature, this plastic melts and encrusts the natural material. Such forms of plastic pollution have already been observed elsewhere in the world as well. But this time, the researchers analyzed them as if they were materials produced by nature. With the tools of geology.
This work shows how human activities are now influencing the geology of our planet, replacing processes that until recently were considered essentially natural. The new era of the Anthropocene – a geological epoch defined by the impact of humans on Earth – in all its glory…