Wonders of the Anthropocene
Certainly, the Anthropocene is rich with new sources of wonder...This autumn I went down the Boulby potash mine, on the north-east coast of England. There immense tunnel networks – or “drift”, in the lexis of mining – extend both inland and offshore. They run up to 1350 metres in depth, and up to 8 kilometres out under the North Sea, following the potash and rock-salt seams laid down during the evaporation of the Zechstein Sea some 200 million years ago.
The mining is done by £3.2 million machines, which – at least to my zoomorphic eye – resemble Komodo dragons, low-slung and sharp-toothed...Years later, when a machine has been exhausted by the demands of its labour,... it is driven into a worked-out tunnel of rock salt, and abandoned. Slowly, the pressure of depth squeezes the tunnel, and translucent salt flows around the machine, encasing it. Thus we lay down a future fossil of the Anthropocene: a machine-relic in a halite cocoon.
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