Feeds

Plastic is the new rock, say Geologists

'Plastiglomerate' layer entering the geological record

Business security measures using SSL

Geologists have identified what they say is a new class of rock.

'Plastiglomerates', as the new rocks are called, form when plastic debris washes up on beaches, breaks down into small pieces, becomes mixed in sand or sticks to other rocks and solidifies into an agglomerate mixing all of the above. Such rocks, say US and Canadian boffins in a paper titled An anthropogenic marker horizon in the future rock record, have “great potential to form a marker horizon of human pollution, signalling the occurrence of the informal Anthropocene epoch.”

The two types of plastiglomerate

The three types of plastiglomerate and an example of the stuff on a rocks shelf (D)

The paper identifies four types of plastiglomerate, namely:
A: In situ plastiglomerate wherein molten plastic is adhered to the surface of a basalt flow

B: Clastic plastiglomerate containing molten plastic and basalt and coral fragments

C: Plastic amygdales in a basalt flow

About a fifth of plastiglomerates consist of “fishing-related debris” such as “netting, ropes, nylon fishing line, as well as remnants of oyster spacer tubes”. “Confetti”, the “embrittled remains of intact products, such as containers” is also very prevalent, but whole containers and lids are also found in plastiglomerates.

The paper explains that the plastiglomerates studied come mainly from a single Hawaiian beach that, thanks to local currents, collects an unusual amount of plastic. But the authors also note that as some samples were formed when trapped within organic material, while others were the result of plastic being melted onto rock, plastiglomerates can pop up anywhere. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.