A recent study of ocean sediment collected near Santa Barbara, California, has found that the presence of plastic in the sedimentary record has increased drastically since 1945.
The study, which sourced its data from a sediment core that dates back to 1834, found that as plastic use increased following World War II, more plastic microfibers were traceable on the ocean floor.
Study author Jennifer Brandon, a biological oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, described the presence of these microplastics as a “plastic footprint” within the soil.
According to Earther, the researchers behind the study believe this could serve as a new geological marker, denoting a new era known as the Great Acceleration.
Although more samples will need to be taken in order to determine if the presence of this plastics is a global phenomenon, Brandon told Earther that the Santa Barbara Basin was an ideal location for collecting the sediment, as there is relatively little water circulation.
The team intends to conduct further studies in the future to confirm their findings.