Geographia Polonica (2020) vol. 93, iss. 4

Where the Meghalayan meets the Anthropocene: Stratigraphic signals of human-environmental interactions on the periphery of Indian civilisation

Paweł Prokop

Geographia Polonica (2020) vol. 93, iss. 4, pp. 505-523 | Full text

The aims of this study were to review human-environment interactions during the Meghalayan and to search for the stratigraphic boundary of a new epoch, informally termed the Anthropocene, as well as to determine whether the stratigraphic signals of human activity on the Meghalaya Plateau in Northeast India can be correlated globally. This plateau is the base of the Meghalayan Age that was determined from a speleothemin a cave located on it. Review indicates that study region developed on the periphery of ancient Indian civilisation, with stratigraphic signals of human activity being apparent in only the last few thousand years; that is, substantially later than the neighbouring ancient Indian civilisation. The stratigraphic signals are heterogeneous and diachronous, not only as a result of various human activities, but also in the effect of the diverse sensitivities of the environment to anthropogenic disturbances. A discrete and visible cultural layer that relates to the development of settlements and the production of new materials is still being formed and reworked.The only synchronous stratigraphic signal with a global range seems to be associated with the artificial radionuclide fallout from nuclear weapons testing, which covers a topsoil layer of up to tens of centimetres thick.

Keywords: stratigraphy, Holocene, Anthropocene, Meghalaya, human impact

Paweł Prokop [], Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences Jana 22, 31-018 Kraków: Poland