What Happened to the Anthropocene Epoch?

In March 2024, the Anthropocene Epoch proposal of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) was overwhelmingly rejected by a vote of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. Much confusion surrounds this vote to reject the AWG’s Anthropocene Epoch proposal.

But the facts are clear….

The Anthropocene was NOT rejected by geologists – only the AWG’s Anthropocene Epoch proposal,. If accepted, this would have defined the Anthropocene as an Epoch in the Geologic Time Scale as a band of sediment in Crawford lake above a spike in plutonium isotopes from nuclear bomb tests occurring in the year 1952. Here is the official statement on the vote to reject the Anthropocene Epoch by the International Union of Geological Sciences.

The Anthropocene remains a useful term for the sciences, humanities, and the public. Though the Anthropocene is not an Epoch in the Geologic Time Scale, it remains a useful way to understand Earth’s history and geology, when defined as an ongoing, intensifying planetary geological event, analogous to The Great Oxidation Event and others.