The geology of Brazil’s volcanic island of Trinidad has fascinated scientists for years, but the discovery of rocks made of plastic debris in this remote turtle refuge is causing concern.
Melted plastic has become entangled with rocks on the island, located 1,140 kilometers (708 miles) from the southeastern state of Espiritu Santo, which researchers say is evidence of humans’ increasing influence on Earth’s geological cycles.
“This is new and terrifying at the same time, because pollution has reached geology,” said Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Paraná.
Santos and her team conducted chemical tests to see what kind of plastic the rocks have. They are called plastiglumers because they are made of a mixture of sedimentary grains and other debris held together by plastic.
We set [the pollution] It mainly comes from fishing nets, which is a very common debris on Trinidad island beaches,” Santos said. [nets] Ocean currents are carried by ocean currents and pile up on the beach. When the temperature rises, this plastic melts and becomes an integral part of the beach’s natural materials. “The island of Trindade is one of the most important sites in the world for the protection of green turtles, or Chelonia mydas, where thousands arrive each year to lay their eggs. The only human inhabitants of Trinidad are members of the Brazilian Navy, which maintains a base on the island and protects the nesting turtles.
Where did we find these samples? [of plastic] It is a permanently protected area in Brazil, near where green turtles lay their eggs.
Santos says that this discovery raises questions about the heritage of humans on Earth.
“We talk a lot about the Anthropocene, and that is it,” Santos said, referring to a proposed geological epoch defined by the impact of humans on the planet’s geology and ecosystems.
“Pollution and trash in the sea and plastic improperly dumped into the oceans have become geological materials…preserved in Earth’s geological records.”
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