Scientists discovered the presence of many minerals on Earth which would not have existed without human activity. These minerals are produced naturally but they are highly influenced by human civilization.
Human interaction with the environment intensified to such an extent that even minerals ended up significantly changed. Given this mineral diversity caused by humans, the researchers involved in the study found suitable for us to call this era we live in the Anthropocene Epoch.
Robert Hazen from the Carnegie Institution for Science led a team that started research on these minerals. They analyzed more than 5,200 minerals that had already been recognized by the International Mineralogical Association and discovered 208 new materials that they established that had been produced by human activities.
Hazen published more information about the research in the journal American Mineralogist. He declared that the emergence of these new minerals was quick. It took them around 200 years to develop, as compared to Earth history, which is 4.5 billion years long.
This is the first time in these billions of years when some minerals were created so quickly. Among the 208 new discoveries of entirely “human” materials, there are Chalconatronite, Andersonite, or Abhurite.
The researchers revealed that Chalconatronite was similar to copper. They found it in ancient Egyptian bronze artifacts as crystals of a bright blue color. Andersonite was Uranium-laced and it could glow in the dark with a yellow or green hue. They discovered it in the walls of mine tunnels. Abhurite started forming in 1855, at the same time with the sinking of SS Cheerfull off the Cornish coast in England.
Most of the 208 minerals were discovered in smelter walls, mining sites, prehistoric artifacts or ancient sacrificial sites, waste dumps, geothermal piping systems, old batteries, or old electrical appliances. Some other materials that they had not listed yet were synthesized from synthetic gemstones, batteries, or magnets.
Generally, Earth minerals form through oxidization, process that started 2.3 billion years ago. This implies the interaction of atmospheric oxygen with bacteria that perform photosynthesis. Thus, over 4,000 types of minerals formed during this period.
Now, Hazen and his research team are trying to convince the International Commission on Stratigraphy to give this era the Anthropocene name. In the study they developed for this, they mention more human activities that have influenced the planet.
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