Scientists investigating the isolated island, which serves as a turtle sanctuary, discovered that plastic had been interlaced with the island’s rocks, raising concerns about the growing influence of plastic garbage on the earth’s geological cycles.

The island lies 1,140 kilometres from the southern state of Espirito Santo and is a protected location for green turtles that lay their eggs there.

“This is new and alarming since pollution has touched geology,” Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Parana, explained.

“This is both novel and frightening since pollution has touched geology,” said Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Parana.

Mr. Santos went on to add that “pollution, rubbish in the water, and wrongly disposed of plastic in the oceans are becoming geological material…preserved in the earth’s geological records.”

For years, experts have been interested in the geology of Brazil’s volcanic Trindade Island. The island is generally deserted and unaffected by humans, but an increasing amount of plastic rubbish has made its way there.

Plastic pollution floating in seawater

“We concluded that (the pollution) is primarily caused by fishing nets, which are a frequent type of waste on Trinidade Island’s beaches,” Mr. Santos explained.

“The (nets) are pulled by the sea currents and accumulate on the beach. When the temperature rises, the plastic melts and becomes embedded in the natural material of the beach.”

Trindade Island is a major conservation site for green turtles, or Chelonia mydas, with hundreds of them arriving each year to lay their eggs.

Members of the Brazilian navy, which maintains a post on the island and guards the nesting turtles, are the only humans on Trindade.

According to Mr. Santos, the discovery raises issues about humanity’s impact on the planet.

“We speak about the Anthropocene all the time, and this is it,” he added, referring to a theorised geological period defined by the human effect 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.”

According to the 5 Gyres Institute’s newest survey, more than 170 trillion pieces are floating in the world’s seas.

Every day, over 8 million pieces of plastic enter our seas.

The quantity of plastic rubbish that enters the oceans each year is anticipated to nearly treble by 2040, and there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish.


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