Yasmin Yonan, Postgraduate Researcher

The Marine Anthropocene and the Law of the Sea

Contact Details

Project Overview

Yasmin Yonan

My project focuses on the impact of human activity on marine environments, as seen in the geological record. As part of my research I aim to investigate a variety of potential anthropogenic signals in marine records, including the ubiquity of plastics in ocean sediments and the preservation of anthropogenically-produced sedimentary structures. My research makes up part of a larger overall collaborative project between law and geology, based in the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo. The working group aims to readdress our current laws and attitudes towards the oceans, increase our legal responsibility for the seas, and address future environmental and human issues predicted to occur due to global climate change; particularly sea level rise.

My main objectives are to add to the growing body of research concerning the Anthropocene ahead of the referendum in 2016, to identify an anthropogenic signal in marine strata, and to aid in the assessment of whether the current Law of the Sea is adequate to protect the marine system, and what laws may need to be added or amended.

Research Theme

Evolution and Past Environments

Research Questions

The scope of this field is huge, so research will be concentrated into a few key areas where there has been little previous study from a stratigraphic perspective. These include:

  • The quantity and distribution of marine microplastics, particularly microplastic fibres, in marine sediment cores. These are widely distributed globally, and can be extracted from sediment samples using basic lab techniques.
  • The record of recent sea level changes in the marine geological record, and their relevance to potential legal and social issues that may arise as a result of sea level rise.
  • Evidence of anthropogenic sedimentary structures, produced by activity such as trawling in the deep ocean and continental shelf.
  • The introduction and spread of invasive species, largely as a result of biofouling and transportation in ballast water.
  • The effect of human settlements on coastal sedimentation rates and associated stratigraphic signals.

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