Rock made of plastic turns up on Hawaii beach

This example of a newly named rock, called plastiglomerate, is made of lava rock, green and red netting, yellow rope and melted plastic. A pencil (lower left), used for scale, shows that the plastic-bound rocks can get pretty big.

P. Corcoran et al/GSA Today 2014

There’s a new rock on Earth — or at least at Hawaii’s Kamilo Beach.

Called plastiglomerate, the rock forms when plastic melts and gets mixed with lava rock, coral and sand, researchers report in the June Geological Society of America Today. The team notes that because plastic is everywhere and does not degrade naturally, plastiglomerate may permanently preserve humans’ trashy ways in the planet’s future rock record.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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