EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Progress in the formalisation of the Anthropocene GSSP

Simon Turner1 and the AWG-HKW-MPIWG Anthropocene GSSP*
Simon Turner and the AWG-HKW-MPIWG Anthropocene GSSP
  • 1Department of Geography, University College London, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) has assembled scientific teams to analyse stratigraphic successions, as potential stratotypes, in order to facilitate a formal submission to the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. The aim is to seek ratification of the Anthropocene as a geological epoch starting in the mid-twentieth century. Stratigraphic records, including a range of novel materials, geochemical and biological signals spanning the mid-twentieth century interval of unprecedented human activity and industrialisation, are being gathered by international teams of scientists, working on eleven contrasting depositional settings from around the planet. Interwoven with this scientific process to define a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP), from which a specific year for the onset of the Anthropocene will be established, is a decades long collaborative exploration of the Anthropocene between the AWG, Haus der Kulturen Welt (HKW) and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG).  

While the compilation of stratigraphic data to define a new epoch is as old as the science of geology, the demarcation of one within living history that signifies human activity as a global geological agent is unparalleled. Similarly, there is no precedent of a stratigraphic formalisation process being pivotal to the framing of so much contemporary social, ecological, artistic, historical and political thought. In May 2022 along with the publication of the results and data, an exhibition including a discursive and performative programme will occur at HKW in Berlin as a public forum for the scientific, cultural and socio-political impact of the geochronological research carried out by the international research project on the Anthropocene.

This presentation provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary and collaborative research project between the AWG, HKW and MPIWG. The talk will introduce the prospective sites and stratigraphy of the proposed successions and an update on progress towards the official ratification of the GSSP, as well as collaborative artistic and cultural work embedded in the process.

AWG-HKW-MPIWG Anthropocene GSSP:

Anthony Barnosky (, 2; Evi Chantzi (, 3; Andrew Cundy (, 4; Katherine De Long (, 5; Barbara Fialkiewicz-Koziel (, 6; Grace Frank (, 7; Irka Hajdas (, 8; Elizabeth Hadly (, 2; Yongming Han (, 9; Stephen Himson (, 10; Juliana Ivar do Sul (, 11; Jerome Kaiser (, 11; Janice Lough (, 7; Francine McCarthy (, 12; Tim Patterson (TimPatterson@CUNET.CARLETON.CA), 13; Giulia Rispoli (, 14; Carlina Rossée (, 3; Christoph Rosol (, 14; (Neil Rose (, 1; Allison Stegner (, 2; Liz Thomas (, 15; Colin Waters (, 10; Mark Williams (, 10; An Zhisheng (, 9; Jens Zinke (, 10.

How to cite: Turner, S. and the AWG-HKW-MPIWG Anthropocene GSSP: Progress in the formalisation of the Anthropocene GSSP, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3226,, 2021.

Corresponding displays formerly uploaded have been withdrawn.