Plastic Rocks on Island Off Brazil

Rocks made of plastic debris have been discovered on the volcanic Trindade Island of Brazil.

What are Plastic rocks?

  • Technically they are called as plastiglomerate.
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  • It is formed when plastic trash melts and fuses together with natural materials such as basaltic lava fragments, sand, shells, wood and coral, resulting in a plastic-rock hybrid.
  • When the plastic melts, it cements rock fragments, sand, and shell debris together, or the plastic can flow into larger rocks and fill in cracks and bubbles.
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  • Researchers say the new material is likely to last a very long time, possibly becoming a permanent marker in Earth’s geologic record.

About Trindade Islands:Location – It is located 1140 Km from Southeastern state of Espirito Santo of Brazil in South Atlantic Ocean.

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  • Ecological significance: Trindade Island is one of the world’s most important conservation spots for green turtles, or Chelonia mydas, with thousands arriving each year to lay their eggs. The only human inhabitants on Trindade are members of the Brazilian navy, which maintains a base on the island and protects the nesting turtles.
  • Plastic threat: It mainly comes from fishing nets, which is very common debris on Trinidade Island’s beaches. The (nets) are dragged by the marine currents and accumulate on the beach. When the temperature rises, this plastic melts and becomes embedded with the beach’s natural material.

What is Plastisphere?

  • The plastisphere consists of ecosystems that have evolved to live in human-made plastic environments.
  • The Plastisphere is a diverse microbial community living on bits of plastic floating in the ocean. These communities are distinct from the surrounding water, suggesting that plastic serves as its own habitat in the ocean.
  • It’s like a biofilm—a sticky material that traps all sorts of microorganisms, protozoa and fungi. They can multiply and create a unique biome around the plastics.

What is Marine snow?

  • Marine snow is a term popularized by scientific explorer and diver William Beebe in the 1930s. It’s made up of nutrient-rich, organic material that falls like snow from the ocean’s surface to the sea floor.
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  • The marine snow phenomenon explains why there’s life at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Also, how carbon can move from top to bottom in the ocean can also be partly explained through marine snow.

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