Santos and her team ran chemical tests to find out what kind of plastics are in the rocks called “plastiglomerates” because they are made of a mixture of sedimentary granules and other debris held together by plastic. “We identified (the pollution) mainly comes from fishing nets, which is very common debris on Trinidade Island’s beaches,” Santos said. “The (nets) are dragged by the marine currents and accumulate on the beach. When the temperature rises, this plastic melts and becomes embedded with the beach’s natural material.”
The discovery stirs questions about humans’ legacy on the earth, says Santos. “We talk so much about the Anthropocene, and this is it,” Santos said, referring to a proposed geological epoch defined by humans’ impact on the planet’s geology and ecosystems. “The pollution, the garbage in the sea and the plastic dumped incorrectly in the oceans is becoming geological material … preserved in the earth’s geological records.”
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