Rocks formed from plastic trash floating in the ocean off Brazil

Rocks formed from plastic trash floating in the ocean off Brazil

There are few places on the earth as isolated as Trindade Island, a volcanic outcrop a three to four day boat trip off the coast of Brazil.

Geologist Fernanda Avelar Santos was shocked to find an unsettling sign of human impact on the otherwise untouched landscape: rocks formed from the glut of plastic pollution floating in the ocean.

Santos first found the plastic rocks in 2019, when she travelled to the island to research her doctoral thesis on a completely different topic - landslides, erosion and other geological risks. She was working near a protected nature reserve known as Turtle Beach, the world's largest breeding ground for the endangered green turtle, when she came across a large outcrop of the unusual blue-green rocks.

After her two-month expedition, she took some back to her lab.

She and her team identified the specimens as a new kind of geological formation, merging the materials and processes that the Earth has used to form rocks for billions of years with a new ingredient: plastic trash.

She told the AFP that human beings are now acting as a geological agent, influencing processes that were previously completely natural, like rock formation.

It fits in with the idea of the Anthropocene, which scientists are talking about a lot these days: The geological era of human beings influencing the planet's natural processes. This type of rock-like plastic will be preserved in the geological record and will mark the Anthropocene. Santos, a professor at the Federal University of Parana, said the finding left her disturbed and upset.

She describes Trindade as like paradise A beautiful tropical island with remoteness has made it a refuge for all species - sea birds, fish found only there, nearly extinct crabs, the green turtle.

A small Brazilian military base and a scientific research centre is the only human presence on the South Atlantic island.