The loneliest tree symbolizes a new age for our planet

A radiocarbon 'golden spike' found in a tree on an island in the Southern Ocean marks a new geological epoch during which human activity has been a dominant influence on earth.

This Sitka Spruce on Campbell Island contains a clear “global” marker of a new epoch
This Sitka Spruce on Campbell Island contains a clear “global” marker of a new epoch. Photo: Pavla Fenwick

Human first step on the moon was in 1969. At that time, individuals of that decade thought the world had changed until the end of time. Much to their dismay, the world had effectively set out the exact marker of a far more noteworthy worldwide change four years sooner, flagging our planet had entered a totally new topographical age, the Anthropocene.

Scientists now have marked this significant change so decisively due to a radiocarbon “brilliant spike” found in the heartwood of a bizarre and solitary tree, a Sitka Spruce found on Campbell Island, a World Heritage site amidst the Southern Ocean. The spruce is privately alluded to as “the loneliest tree on the planet” with the following nearest tree more than 200km away on the Auckland Islands.

The radioactive carbon spike was made by the zenith of for the most part Northern Hemisphere barometrical atomic bomb tests in the 1960s. The flag was settled in the wood of the Campbell Island Sitka spruce by photosynthesis

Lead author Prof Chris Turney from UNSW Sydney said, “We were incredibly excited to find this signal in the Southern Hemisphere on a remote island because for the first time it gave us a well-defined global signature for a new geological epoch that could be preserved in the geological record.”

“Thousands of years from now this golden spike should still stand as a detectable marker for the transformation of the Earth by humankind.”

Different scientists from around the globe have been looking at proclaiming another geographical age called the Anthropocene, demonstrating the point where a human effect on the planet on a very basic level changed the characteristic world. In any case, for another age to be authoritatively proclaimed, there must be a reasonable and exact “worldwide” flag that can be distinguished in the topographical shaping materials without bounds. This radiocarbon spike is that flag.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the barometrical radiocarbon crest happened in 1964 where the flag is safeguarded in European trees. That same pinnacle took until late 1965 to achieve the Southern Hemisphere environment. With that spruce, the flag wound up worldwide, exact and distinguishable in the topographical record, which means it fits the prerequisites as a marker for another age.

The 100-year-old tree itself is an irregularity in the Southern Ocean. It is normally found along the North American Pacific Coast however it is credited with being planted on Campbell Island by the Governor of New Zealand in 1901. The maritime atmosphere has unusually affected the spruce. In spite of the fact that it has developed to 10m tall, the tree has never delivered cones, proposing it has stayed in a for all time adolescent state.

Co-author Professor Mark Maslin said, “It seems somehow apt that this extraordinary tree, planted far from its normal habitat by humans has also become a marker for the changes we have made to the planet. It is yet further evidence, if that was needed, that in this new epoch no part of our planet remains untouched by humans.”

The research is published in Scientific Reports by members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014.