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Earth Science

Plastic Trash Forming Into "Plastiglomerate" Rocks 123

sciencehabit (1205606) writes 'Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii. The new material--which the researchers are calling a "plastiglomerate"--may be becoming so pervasive that it actually becomes part of the geologic record.'
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Plastic Trash Forming Into "Plastiglomerate" Rocks

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  • by Y.A.A.P. ( 1252040 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:44PM (#47169269)

    Please, RTFA!

    The scientists in this article are classifying the characteristics of a new heterogeneous material, which is a necessity as the time for breakdown of this material may make it a significant part of the fossil record.

    The scientists are not saying it is a new form of rock. Only possibly the submitter or samzenpus are (mistakenly) saying this.

    To repeat: RTFA, no new rocks here!

  • by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:10AM (#47169361)
    The first link contained one picture with a subsequent link to a PDF containing more pictures. The second link contained multiple subsequent links which have multiple pictures.
  • Re:UV (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @01:13AM (#47169521)

    Riddle me this batman... UV light breaks down plastic, I've witnessed it every time I restore a car, or an old computer. All the plastic becomes brittle, breaks down, and eventually crumbles to plastic dust... Why doesn't this happen to the plastic in the ocean -- and everywhere else?

    Most of the plastic IS the dust - the big plastic garbage patch is made up of really tiny pellets after the big chunks have broken down.

    And what's happening looks like the plastic is breaking down and the pieces are starting to glob together forming some strange multi-material piece of plastic.

    Of course, once the dust gets small enough, the breakdown has to happen by UV only. In a big chunk, the plastic becomes brittle and the wave action helps break it down further, but once it's dust, it's too small for mechanical breakdown.

  • Re: UV (Score:5, Informative)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @03:46AM (#47169881)

    This may be an interesting parallell to what happened during the Carboniferous era, when apparently plant matter didn't rot away until the fungi evolved the ability to break down lignin. As a matter of fact, there are a few fungi that are able to attack some kinds of plastic too.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay