What is a beach actually? It is marginalia, a footnote to the essay that is the ocean. [1]

Kamilo Beach, Hawaii is a node where the ocean gets rid of foreign substances. The beach has long been known as a way station. Stories are told that pre-contact, native Hawai’ians used the beach to harvest logs that had drifted into Kamilo from the Pacific Northwest. Currently, Kamilo is a terminal point in the circulation of garbage. The beach and adjacent coastline are covered in plastic, as much as 90% of the garbage accumulated in the area is plastic.


In 2012, geologist Patricia Corcoran and sculptor Kelly Jazvac travelled to Kamilo Beach, following a tip from oceanographer Charles Moore that the beach was covered in a plastic-sand conglomerate. Moore suspected nearby volcanoes were to blame. In fact, the plastic and beach detritus had been combined into a single substance by bonfires. Human action on the beach had created what Corcoran and Jazvac named “plastiglomerate,” a sand-and-plastic conglomerate. Molten plastic had also in-filled many of the vesicles in the volcanic rock, becoming part of the land that would eventually be eroded back into sand.

…an archive of pure sand is an impossibility. No wonder that sand is often seen to flow through time, through the glass timer, to ebb and flow, to move liquidly across the face of the Earth. [2]


More poetically, plastiglomerate indexically unites the human with the currents of water. From the primordial muck, to the ocean, to the beach, and back to land, plastiglomerate is an uncanny material marker. It shows the ontological inseparability of all matter, from the micro to the macro. [3]

Following the research excursion to Kamilo Beach, Corcoran and Jazvac argued in GSA Today that plastiglomerate was evidence of a plastic marker horizon that could contribute to the naming of a new era. The naming and dating of the Anthropocene, an as-yet formally unrecognised and heavily debated term for a geologic epoch evidencing human impact on the globe.

Note to Self:

  • OOO: Withdrawn objects…sparkle with absence.

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