There are few places on Earth as isolated as the island of Trinidad, a volcanic outcrop that takes three to four days by boat from the coast of Brazil. That’s why geologist Fernanda Avelar Santos was shocked to find a disturbing sign of human impact in the otherwise untouched landscape: boulders formed from plastic pollution floating in the ocean.
It has been identified as a new type of geological formation
Santos first encountered plastic rocks in 2019 when he traveled to the island to research his PhD thesis on a completely different topic (landslides, erosion, and “other geological hazards”).
He was working near a nature reserve called Turtle Beach, the largest breeding ground for endangered green turtles in the world, when he came across a large outcropping of rock of a strange blue-green color.During his two-month expedition, this piqued his interest, so he brought some back to his lab. He and his team analyzed it, which they identified as a new type of geological formation; The materials and processes Earth has used to shape rocks for billions of years are building new ingredients as they combine with plastic waste.
We conclude that man now acts as a geological agent and influences processes that were previously completely natural, such as rock formation Geologist Fernanda Avelar Santos told AFP ScienceAlert Scientific portal on the Internet. – This fits with the idea of the Anthropocene that scientists talk about a lot these days: the geological era of man affecting the natural processes of the planet.
He added that this type of rock-like plastic remains in the geological record.
The main component of the rocks is the remains of fishing nets
Trindade is apostrophized by most professionals as a paradise. The small volcanic island of Brazil is located in the Atlantic Ocean Due to its remote location, it provides shelter to all kinds of birds: seabirds, fish that live only there, crabs that have been swept to the brink of extinction, and green turtles.
The only human presence on the South Atlantic island is a small Brazilian military base and scientific research center.
Amazing, so it was even more terrifying to find something like this, and on one of the most ecologically important beaches – explained Santos, who returned to the island at the end of last year to collect more plastic rocks and dig deeper to understand the phenomenon.
Continuing his research, he found that rock-like plastic formations had been reported since 2014 in places like Hawaii, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. But Trinidad Island is the most remote place on the planet where they have been found so far. Experts now fear that as the rock erodes, microplastics will seep into the environment and further pollute the island’s food chain.The researchers presented their findings in Marine Pollution Bulletin Published in a journal, where it was noted: “Marine pollution is causing a paradigm shift in our understanding of rock formations and sedimentary deposits; human interventions are now so widespread that it is necessary to question what is truly natural.”
The main component of the rocks that Santos unearthed was the remains of fishing nets, but ocean currents have washed a lot of bottles, household waste and other plastic rubbish onto the island from all over the world.
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