"In 2002," write Zalasiewicz and colleagues, "Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist, suggested that we had left the Holocene and had entered a new epoch - the Anthropocene - because of the global environmental effects of increased human population and economic development."

The authors document a radical yet compelling case for the idea that the appearance of humans has so physically changed Earth that there is no organic justification for linking pre- and post-industrialized Earth within the same epoch (the Holocene).

They state that the global environmental change since the start of the Industrial Revolution Earth has been sufficient to leave a 'global stratigraphic signature' distinct from that of the Holocene epoch.

With this article, Zalasiewicz and colleagues have laid the scholarly groundwork for the formal adoption by the International Commission on Stratigraphy of the Anthropocene as the youngest epoch of, and most recent addition to, the geological timescale.

Are we now living in the Anthropocene? Jan Zalasiewicz et al., GSA Today, DOI: 10.1130/GSAT01802A.1