March 27, 2023

Researchers find ‘creepy’ plastic rocks on remote island off Brazilian coast – News

Rock found on volcanic islands contains plastic elements
REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer – 03/07/2023

The geology of the volcanic island of Trindade, off the coast of Espírito Santo, has fascinated scientists for years, but the discovery of rocks made of plastic debris in the remote turtle sanctuary is causing concern.

Melted plastic is mixed with rocks on the island, located 1,140 km from Espirito Santo, in what researchers say is evidence of increasing human influence on Earth’s geological cycles.

“This is really very new and at the same time scary,” said Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR).

Fernanda and her team performed chemical tests to find out what kind of plastic is in the rocks, which are called “plastyspheric” because they are made up of a mixture of sedimentary grains and other debris held together by plastic.

“We saw that they mainly come from fishing nets. This is a very common piece of trash on the beaches of Trindade Island, which arrives through the ocean currents and accumulates along the beach,” said Fernanda Santos.

Trindade Island is one of the most important conservation sites in the world for the green turtle, or chelonia mydas; thousands of them go there every year to give birth. The only people living on Trudo are members of the Brazilian Navy, which maintains a base on the island and protects the turtle nesting grounds.

“The place where we found these (plastic) samples is a permanent conservation area in Brazil, near the nesting site of the green turtle,” the geologist said.

The discovery raises questions about humans’ legacy on Earth, Fernanda says.

“What we talk about so much about the Anthropocene is this, the Anthropocene is this. The pollution, the trash in the sea, the plastic that was wrongly thrown into the oceans, is being transformed and turned into geological material that can be preserved in (the planet’s) records.”

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