Soil micromorphology and the Anthropocene—Cross-scale connections and technology trends .

Curtis Monger, Peter H. Cooke


The Anthropocene is a proposed geologic time period used to convey the profound influence humanity is having on the environmental systems of Earth. The term is controversial because of uncertainties about when to designate its beginning and whether a diagnostic feature of this era survive millions of years into the future. Still, the Anthropocene has captured the imagination of many scientists and provides a framework for analyzing the broad-scale impacts of humanity. The purpose of this paper is to explore how soil micromorphology can contribute to a deeper understanding of the Anthropocene. We approached this issue by systematically examining how data gathered at the micromorphology scale is connected to data obtained at the soil profile, landscape, and global scales. In particular we look at world food production, climate change, groundwater pollution, and plastic decomposition. From this cross-scale analysis it becomes apparent that micromorphology (1) contributes to an understanding of feedbacks operating in complex adaptive systems and (2) provides evidence otherwise invisible for making inferences about climate change. As the human footprint increases, soil micromorphology, using both traditional and emerging technologies, can make a unique contribution to understanding the Anthropocene.
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