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Joint Geological Associations lecture (CGA/IGA/GGA): Prof. Phil Gibbard – The Anthropocene: to be or not to be, the controversy explained! – 25 January 2023, 7.30pm.

25 January @ 7:30 PM 8:30 PM GMT

Annual Joint Geological Association Lecture: Prof. Phil Gibbard, University of Cambridge, and Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy will talk on “The Anthropocene: to be or not to be, the controversy explained!” (Virtual, via Zoom). At 7.30pm.


Proposals to define formally a new geological time division, termed ‘Anthropocene’ have been advocated for over a decade. A case has also been made for its consideration as a formal series/epoch, equivalent in status to Holocene and Pleistocene. To merit formal designation, such an event would need to have a global signature consistently distinct from that of the Holocene, and be marked by novel biotic, sedimentary and geochemical change. Whilst there is no disputing the clear evidence in recent geological records of increasing anthropogenic impacts on the natural environment, it is debated whether the stratigraphic signature of these trends is sufficiently distinct, consistent and adequately dated globally, for the proposal for a Holocene/Anthropocene boundary to be substantiated on stratigraphic grounds. The current question is whether it is indeed possible to identify a specific point when demonstrably human modification of the environment has been occurring for many thousands of years in some places, whilst elsewhere it began relatively recently.  This discussion has led some workers to conclude that any time-fixed boundary would potentially exclude the long, pre-20th century interval of human activity.  


Prof. Phil Gibbard

Phil Gibbard graduated with a degree in Geology in 1971 from the University of Sheffield. He went on to complete a Ph.D in Quaternary studies with the highly-respected R.G. West at the University of Cambridge. From there he built his career as a lecturer and international researcher, with a particular interest in fostering a systematic stratigraphic approach to  the complex of Quaternary deposits. He has played a key role, for many years, in the International Commission on Stratigraphy, and is the recipient of many awards. He is currently a member of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, and Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy.

When: Wednesday 25 January at 7.30pm

Where: online via Zoom.

Registration: Please register here (in case of problem with the online form, please email info@geology.ie). All welcome!