Content type: Research Project
Credits: Kelly Jazvac (Artist and Assistant Professor at Western University) and Dr Patricia Corcoran (Associate Professor and Department Chair, Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario)
Year: 2013–ongoing

On the coastline of Hawaii, a new type of stone called ‘Plastiglomerate’ can be found. With flecks of vibrant colour, the stones are strikingly beautiful but, on closer inspection, also somewhat disturbing. The stones consist of plastic debris (most of which is foreign to Hawaii) and beach sediment which has been captured by molten lava. These stones are a symbol of our times, where plastic permeates every nook and cranny of the planet and nature is no longer pristine but infused with the manmade.

The first plastiglomerate was discovered in 2006 by Charles Moore, a sea captain and oceanographer at the Algalita Marine Research Institute in Long Beach, California. At his suggestion, Kelly Jazvac (artist) and Dr Patricia Corcoran (geographer) travelled to Hawaii to collect and research this new type of rock. Since then, they have gathered over 200 samples of plastiglomerate, creating a collection that serves as a testament to the permanence of the disposable. Their archive of plastiglomerate specimens (which have been exhibited in various exhibitions) viscerally demonstrates mankind's shift into the geographical era of the Anthropocene.

A co-authored manuscript of their findings can be found here.

The following images are a selection of Plastiglomerate samples collected by Patricia Corcoran (geographer) and Kelly Jazvac (artist) at Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, 2013.

All photographs by Kelly Wood. Images courtesy of the artist.