Newsletter 18 (Feb. 1992) Newsletter 19 (Feb. 1993)
Newsletter 20 (Feb. 1994) Newsletter 22 (Feb. 1996)
Newsletter 23 (Feb. 1997) Newsletter 24 (Mar. 1998)
Newsletter 25 (Mar. 1999) Newsletter 26 (May 2000)
Newsletter 27 (May 2001) Newsletter 28 (Mar. 2002)
Newsletter 29 (Mar. 2003)
CGC Canadian Geoscience Council
THE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE PROGRAMME
Geoscience in the Service of Society
IGCP (International Geoscience Programme) activities in Canada declined during 2003, partly the inevitable consequence of drastic funding cuts in recent years, but also due to fewer projects that appear to be central to the interests of Canadian researchers. IGCP-CNC (Canadian National Committee) is less optimistic that IGCP in Canada will continue to maintain its traditional high level of activities in 2004 and beyond. A warning was sounded in the previous newsletter that serious financial storm clouds are building on the horizon; these are now much closer.
Of the 37 IGCP projects active worldwide in 2003, 20 involved Canadian participation, and 9 of them had Canadian International Leaders. Of the 5 projects that terminated in 2003, Canadians were active in 4. In February 2004, the UNESCO-IGCP Scientific Board approved 9 new projects, 2 of which have Canadian International Co-Leaders. Unlike last year, when it was anticipated that Canadians would be involved in fewer of the new projects (and, so far, has proved to be the case), it is expected that most of the projects starting in 2004 will have strong, active Canadian leadership. Canadian Leaders are, of course, still being actively recruited for projects that started in 2003, although less vigorously for on-going projects that started before then. Canada was involved in 53% of active projects in 2003, a significant decline from the 68% participation reported last year and the 75% rate for 2001 and 2000. This is cause for some concern, but not alarm. Canadian participation was diluted in 2003 by the large number of new projects in which Canadian participation was unlikely, right from the start. By other standards Canada is still a leader in IGCP activity
, boasting international leadership or co-leadership of a quarter of the active projects. Interestingly, there was a significant increase in the number of events held outside Canada in which Canadians participated, up by 60%. These events included conferences, workshops, field excursions and working groups. Other activities included on-line courses, collaborative exchanges and joint research projects. From these, a vast array of publications has been delivered, ranging from brief abstracts to symposia volumes. Complete information is summarized in the body of this newsletter.
Canadian funding in 2004 will be maintained at the same level as that in 2003. This level is drastically reduced from that of a few years ago, and without financial influx, the decline in Canadian participation in IGCP projects is likely to continue. In a world that seems to be increasingly dominated by mutual mistrust and hostility, this is sad. Each segment of society has a role to play in fostering international co-operation and understanding; perhaps earth scientists could do more in their own sphere of influence.
Canada occupies a unique niche in the history of IGCP, as the programme was founded in 1972 at the 24th
IGC (International Geological Congress) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The foremost objective of IGCP is to encourage and facilitate international scientific co-operation in research and geological problems, and thereby to promote the wise use of the Earth as a human habitat and as the source of natural resources. This long-term, interdisciplinary program is a joint initiative of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). IUGS serves as the scientific guide
, while UNESCO handles operational and administrative matters.
An International Scientific Board of 20 members, appointed jointly by the Director-General of UNESCO and the President of IUGS, governs the program. The day-to-day business of IGCP is conducted from Paris, with the full Board meeting every year for a week at the end of January, or early February. The objectives of the annual meeting are to fine-tune progress of IGCP, review on-going projects, make decisions regarding new projects, and to award funding. Each project typically has a life span of 5 years, which may be extended by one year, if deemed justified. Since the inception of IGCP, numerous projects have been successfully completed (the program is now up to Project 494). IGCP has, for many years, enjoyed a reputation for being among the foremost and most successful programs of IUGS and UNESCO.
In addition to the International Scientific Board, each country has a National Committee, which is responsible for publicizing the aims and achievements of IGCP, encouraging participation in IGCP projects, encouraging the initiation of new projects, selecting national contacts for newly approved projects and nominating membership to the International Scientific Board. There are now 102 National Committees throughout the world. The Canadian National Committee was founded in 1974, under the chairmanship of F.K. North of Carleton University. The Canadian National Committee had as many as 14 members in its early years, but this has been progressively reduced to a more manageable 8, including ex-officio the International Director of the Canadian Geoscience Council (CGC). Members of the committee serve for 5 years on an overlapping, rotational basis and are selected so that all earth science disciplines and regions of Canada are represented.
Any individual or organization within any member nation may propose IGCP projects. Proposals pass via the National Committee for endorsement to the International Scientific Board. About 5-8 new projects are accepted annually
, although this range is not fixed - in 2003 14 new projects were approved. New projects should, (i) reflect the major objectives of the IGCP, (ii) meet a world-wide, continental or regional need, (iii) involve applications of various branches of earth science and require interdisciplinary cooperation, (iv) require co-ordinated action between specialists from different countries, and (v) offer long-term benefits and, whenever possible, yield tangible short-term practical results for the participating countries.
After approval of a project, participants deal directly with the proposer(s) of the project, who will normally become its international leader(s). Participants will also operate through the national representative, who is responsible for overseeing a specific project in his/her own country. Duties include the reporting to participants and to IGCP-CNC of current activities, the notification to them of future plans and for co-ordinating requests for financial assistance. Funding for research relevant to a particular project's objectives is obtained directly by participants from domestic granting agencies, but catalyst financial support is supplied to the project’s international leader(s) by UNESCO-IUGS according to recommendations made by the International Scientific Board. According to national resources, each national committee may provide additional funding to enable its scientists to be involved in the project, especially in providing some financial support to attend international meetings, or to facilitate activities in their own country. The Canadian National Committee receives federal funding, on a flow-through basis via the Canadian Geoscience Council. This support has a value that far surpasses the modest sum involved
, especially in terms of the leverage it provides toward accessing other sources of financial assistance.
Summary of 32nd Session of UNESCO-IGCP Scientific Board Meeting
Paris, 9-12th February 2004
James T. Teller
Representative to IGCP Advisory Board, Chair of WG 2, and Rapporteur
Working Group (WG) was added to the IGCP Advisory Board in 2004, Hydrogeology, reflecting the strong views by UNESCO and associated scientific groups that this is an integral and growing part of the geosciences. Four new Board members were appointed and attended this year’s meeting (Argentina, Israel, Russia, Germany).
IGCP has now officially changed its name to INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE PROGRAMME, although the IGCP acronym will be retained.
There were 3 replacements appointed to the Board: one each from WG1, WG3, and WG4 (Mongolia, France, Japan).
A report by the External Evaluation Committee, periodically required, was presented. It was complimentary, but noted several areas where improvement should occur: e.g. more cooperation with other UNESCO groups (there is increasing activity in this area now); make projects and accomplishments more visible (we are now planning for this); fund fewer projects and give more to the best proposals/projects [we disagree, because we want to provide only seed money for a broad spectrum of projects].
Ed de Mulder, President of IUGS, says that they will continue to financially support IGCP in 2004. He noted that IGCP should interact with other UNESCO scientific groups—Man and the Biosphere (MAB), International Hydrological Programme (IHP), International Oceanographic Committee (IOC), and Management of Social Transformations Program (MOST).
Werner Janoschek, Secretary General IUGS, reiterated the importance of incorporating groundwater into IGCP activities, as per UNESCO wishes — funding might depend on this. Noted revised US $ contribution to IGCP, which previously had been directly to IGCP not via UNESCO. In 2005, these monies will be given in the traditional way, so UNESCO will take a sizable part for “administration”. Good news is that IHP may contribute $ to IGCP because we now have a Hydrogeology group and are encouraging water-related projects.
Wolfgang Eder, Director of Earth Science Division and Secretary General of IGCP, is stepping down after 12 years. Noted that IGCP is the only agency in all of the United Nations that is a geoscience group! Noted many accomplishments of IGCP
, both in traditional project support and in new initiatives and partnerships with others (e.g. Disaster reduction, Megacities, Volga-Caspian project, International Center for Karst Hydrology in China). Societal dialog is essential, or we will perish.
Ed Derbyshire reported on the Joint Meeting of 5 UNESCO scientific programs (IGCP, IHP, MAB, MOST, IOC). Several points from that meeting: collaboration is important, multidisciplinarity is important, there is a need to design a measure for evaluating success, to integrate sustainability and capacity building in projects.
Ed Derbyshire also reported on the first planned “regional conference” of IGCP (funded by UNESCO and UK) that will showcase good projects, develop new ideas for projects with mid-career geologists and encourage new proposals, explain what kinds of projects are likely to succeed and how to prepare proposals; this one will be held in UK.
A. Boriani reported on the International Geological Congress meeting to be held in Florence in August 2004. To date, there are 8637 pre-registered, 8192 abstracts submitted, 270 sessions; deadline for early registration is March 31.
Annual IGCP reports of 32 countries tabled and discussed.
The new “31st
Geological Correlations” report has just been published, which details all IGCP activities, project status and publications, includes the minutes of the 2003 Paris Advisory Board meeting and lists the names and addresses of all national IGCP representatives, etc. (180 p. — the “Yellow Book”).
A special half-day session for dignitaries (ambassadors, UNESCO leaders
, etc.) was held on the topic “Earth Sciences for Society”. Distinguished speakers explained the importance of geology in society (e.g. Director of USGS; President of German Federal Institute of Geoscience and Natural Resources; Deputy Director of Chinese Division of Science and Technology). This event was designed as the introduction to formally submitting the IUGS-IGCP proposal for an INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PLANET EARTH in 2006. If approved by the UN General Assembly in New York it will span 2005 - 2007. Many delegations are now on board; all 5 UNESCO scientific groups support, and Koichiro Matsuura (Secretary General of UNESCO) spoke in support of this at the meeting. Budget may be ca. $20 million. 8 special project topic areas that should be supported in conjunction with the International Year of Planet Earth were identified by IUGS: 1) Groundwater; 2) Hazards; 3) Earth and Health; 4) Climate; 5) Resources; 6) Mega-cities; 7) Deep earth; and 8) Oceans.
Nine projects were completed in 2003, 37 projects are on going, and 13 new proposals were presented. The budget in 2004 is not fully known, but will be about US$275,000.
Canadian National Committee Annual Business Meeting
IGCP-CNC annual business meeting was held on 25th
March, 2004 by teleconference call, and was chaired by Jim Teller. Two committee members, Marcus Zentilli and Mike Higgins, were unable to participate.
Action items from the Minutes of the Previous Meeting (6th
March, 2003) were reviewed. Those that were not completed were carried over to 2004. Budget expenditures for 2003-2004 were tabled and reviewed by Secretary-Treasurer Charles Gower. Most of the budget had been allocated to grants to individual IGCP projects, and had been used as anticipated. Residual funds were used to cover annual business meeting costs and the annual newsletter. Charles Gower reviewed current projects. Emphasis was given to projects that started in 2003. Many projects still lack Canadian leadership. Activity relevant to some appears to be lacking in Canada, so it seems likely that this situation will continue.
, International Director CGC, confirmed that funding from CGC for the 2004-2005 financial year would continue at the same level as in 2003-2004. He also touched on attempts by CGC to restructure its funding sources, offering a more optimistic view as to an eventual successful outcome.
A summary of the 2002 UNESCO-IGCP International Scientific Board meeting in Paris was tabled and reviewed by Jim Teller (see previous section). Discussion arising centered on the newly established Hydrogeology Working Group, which, in turn, involves an expansion of the International Board from 16 to 20 members. This change allows for more diverse international representation and an increased opportunity for a Canadian to continue to serve as a member.
Bryan Schreiner (past-Chair) reported on liaison with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. A planned workshop entitled “Climate Change and Water”, scheduled for May 2003 and involving the 5 UNESCO scientific programmes (IGCP, IHO, MAB, IOC and MOST; see inside front cover for expansion of acronyms), was cancelled due to sickness of the leading organizer. The workshop was intended to provide a forum for enhancing interaction between the various programmes and improving visibility with decision makers.
Most of the remaining time was devoted to allocation of available funds. Funding requests of C$22,449, based on estimated expenses of C$48,449, had been received. The funding requested was similar to the previous year’s level, but the estimated total expenses were very much lower. Of the 9 requests for funding received, 7 were awarded grants, although at a level that can be regarded as providing little more than leverage-level support.
Summary of Activities in 2003
Number of Projects with Canadian Participation 20
Number of Projects with Canadian International Leaders/Co-Leaders 9
Number of Canadian International Leaders 9
Number of Projects with Canadian Leaders 21
Number of International Meetings attended 14
Number of International Meetings held in Canada 2
Number of copies of Newsletter distributed 180
Note. 38 projects were active worldwide in 2003, plus 6 on extended term.
Active Projects in 2003 without Canadian Leaders and no known Canadian involvement
Project Duration Title
433 (2000-2004) Caribbean Plate Tectonics
436 (1999-2003, OET) Pacific Gondwana Margin
443 (2000-2004) Magnesite and Talc
457 (2001-2005) Seismic Hazard for North African countries
470 (2002-2006) The Neoproterozoic Pan-African Belt of Central Africa
471 (2002-2006) Evolution of W. Gondwana during the Late Proterozoic
475 (2003-2007) Deltas in the monsoon Asia-Pacific region (Delta MAP)
476 (2003-2007) Monsoon evolution and tectonic-climate linkage in Asia
478 (2003-2007) Neoproterozoic-early Paleozoic events in S.W. Gondwana
481 (2003-2007) Dating Caspian Sea level changes
482/489 (2003-2007) East African Rift System
486 (2003-2007) Au-Ag-telluride-selenide deposits
490 (2003-2007) Environmental catastrophes
491 (2003-2007) Middle Paleozoic vertebrate biogeography,
paleogeography, and climate
* On extended term in 2004
Canadian Participation - Projects that were completed in 2003
(Projects without a Canadian leader and no Canadian participation are unlisted)
* Funding awarded in 2003
† International Leader
0ET On extended term in 2003 for 1 year
Project 426 (1998-2002, OET) Granite Systems and Proterozoic Lithospheric Systems
Dr. Sandra Barr
IGCP Project 426 began in 1998 and concluded in 2003, after a 1-year extension.
The wrap-up meeting for the project was in the form of a session and business meeting during the EGS - AGU - EUG Joint Assembly held in Nice, France, in April 2003. Session VGP6, Granite Systems and Proterozoic Lithospheric Processes, was convened by O. T. Rämö, with W. R. Van Schmus and J. S. Bettencourt as co-conveners, and focused on a general overview of topics as appropriate for the final gathering of project participants. All presenters of the 29 abstracts submitted to the session attended. Two Canadians, K. Benn and R.L. Linnen, were co-authors of presentations at the session. The technical sessions were followed by a business meeting in which participants discussed the potential for a possible future IGCP project to follow-up on the new lines of investigation identified during IGCP-426.
Scientists from at least twenty-five countries were involved in IGCP Project 426, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom
, United States, and Venezuela. During the first years of the project, most of the emphasis was on data acquisition, with preliminary results presented at various conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada in St. John's, NL, in May 2001. A special issue of Precambrian Research arising from the project was published in December 2002, and included the following papers that included Canadian project participants as authors:
Peterson, T.D., Van Breemen, O., Sandeman H., Cousens, B. 2002. Proterozoic (1.85-1.75 Ga) igneous suites of the Western Churchill Province: granitoid and ultrapotassic magmatism in a reworked Archean hinterland. Precambrian Research, 119, 73-100.
Teixeira, W., Pinese, J.P.P., Iacumin, M., Girardi, V.A.V., Piccirillo, E.M., Echeveste, H., Ribot, A., Fernandez, R., Renne, P.R., Heaman, L. M. 2002. Calc-alkaline and tholeiitic dyke swarms of Tandilia, Rio de la Plata craton, Argentina: U-Pb, Sm-Nd, and Rb-Sr data provide new clues for intraplate rifting shortly after the Trans-Amazonian orogeny. Precambrian Research,
One of the major goals for IGCP-426 related to "societal benefits", which were defined in terms of providing opportunities for advanced education and research opportunities for graduate students and post-graduate scientists from less developed countries. Major steps forward were made in this regard, as reflected in several of the papers published in the special issue of Precambrian Research (December, 2002, v. 119), and for the most part these collaborations facilitated by the project remain active.
Project 437 (1999-2003) Coastal Environmental Change during Sea-Level Highstands*
Dr. R.Timothy Patterson
The fifth and final international conference of the International Geoscience Programme Project No. 437 (Coastal Environmental Change During Sea-Level Highstands: A Global Synthesis with implications for management of future coastal change
) was carried out in association with the INQUA Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution Commission, INQUA Sea Level Changes Commission (Subcommission 4-Mediterranean), INQUA Holocene Commission, IGU Coastal Systems Commission
, Italian Association of Physical Geography and Geomorphology (AIGeo), the Italian Society of Environmental Geology (SIGeA) and the Ph.D. School of Geomorphology and Environmental Dynamics, Bari University. The meeting was organized and hosted by Giuseppe Mastronuzzi, Dipartimento di Geologica e Geofisica, University of Bari and Paolo Sansò, Dipartimento di Scienza dei Materiali, University of Lecce from September 22-28, 2003 with the conference theme being ‘Quaternary coastal morphology and sea-level changes’. This was one of the largest meetings held during this project with approximately 80 participants from 33 countries, two of whom were Canadians; Tim Patterson (Carleton University) and Claude Hillaire-Marcel (Univ. of Quebec at Montreal). Patterson authored two presentations while Hillaire-Marcel delivered a single paper. There were 86 presentations overall. Participants have been invited to contribute papers based on their talks to a special issue of Quaternary Science Reviews. Detailed information on the meeting and the complete abstract volume in pdf format can be found at: http://www.dsm.unile.it/Bacheca/IGCP-437FinalConference/
There were five days of field trips led by Giuseppe Mastronuzzi and Paolo Sansò dedicated to examining the geological and geomorphological setting of the Puglia region. During these coach trips we examined Late Quaternary sea level change evidence in a stable coastal area, the coast of southern Salento, the historical Taranto Tyrrhenian deposits, Late Quaternary deposits and archaeological remains along the Adriatic coast of Puglia, and finally the coastal plain of the Tavoliere and Fortore rivers. The complete field guide in pdf format is available at: http://www.dsm.unile.it/Bacheca/IGCP-437FinalConference/FieldGuide/Field_Guide.htm
There were no specific Canadian IGCP 437 working group meetings held during 2003.
This was the fifth and final annual meeting of IGCP Project 437. However, Antony Long of the Department of Geography, Durham University and collaborators have proposed a follow-up IGCP project to UNESCO entitled “Quaternary Land-Ocean Interactions: Driving Mechanisms and Coastal Responses”. Approval for this new project is expected by early February. The first annual meeting of the new project is to be carried out in Boston, MA, USA in late summer 2004. The field trips associated with this meeting will carry out a transect from Connecticut to Maine to examine evidence of sea-level change in coastal salt marshes and other Quaternary deposits. The first circular will be distributed following formal approval of the new project.
Canadian Participation - Current Projects
(All projects listed - including those without known Canadian participation)
* Funding awarded in 2003
† International Leader
0ET On extended term in 2004 for 1 year
Project 433 (2000-2004) Caribbean Plate Tectonics
Canadian Leader: None appointed
No known Canadian involvement.
Project 434 (1999-2003, OET) Land-Ocean Interactions during the Cretaceous in Asia
Dr. James W. Haggart
Although no Canadians participated in 2003, Project #434 held its 5th
symposium, entitled Stratigraphic Correlation of Marine and Non-marine Cretaceous Rocks in South and East Asia
, in Bangkok and Kalasin Province, Thailand, December 7-10, 2003. The symposium included three days of presentations and a 4-day field excursion to examine Jurassic and Cretaceous stratigraphy and geology of Thailand, as well as many important Mesozoic paleontological sites. At the 5th
symposium, it was agreed that a 6th
meeting would be held for the project, in November 2004, pending a one-year extension of support for the project from IGCP. This support was applied for in late 2003. It is anticipated that this extension has been approved, although funds would not be available for any travel to the 6th
symposium meeting under the extension. Details of the Vietnam meeting are being finalized and will be announced by the organizers in Spring 2004. The final proceedings of Project #434 will be published after the Vietnam meeting, and will include a summary of all project activities over the past 6 years. It is planned to publish the proceedings as a Special Issue of the Journal of the Asian Earth Sciences. The guest editor is Prof. Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. of the Philippines National University.
Given the success of Project #434, participants at the 5th
meeting agreed that Prof. Yong Il Lee, of Seoul National University
, would undertake to establish a successor project to #434 with IGCP.
Project 436 (1999-2003, OET) Pacific Gondwana Margin
Canadian Leader: None appointed
No known Canadian involvement
Project 440 (1999-2003, OET) Rodinia Assembly and Breakup*
Dr. Tony Davidson
Activity during 2003 for Project 440 was occupied mainly in finalizing compilations undertaken by participants for various continental blocks involved in the reconstruction of Rodinia Supercontinent, using the legend agreed to during the preceding year.
Contributions were presented for scrutiny and discussion at two meetings in the latter part of the year. The first, entitled ‘IGCP 440 South China Field Symposium’, was held in China
, 9–18 October, and included a two-day symposium in the city of Hangzhou followed by a field trip to examine Neo- and Mesoproterozoic rocks in the South China Block, a significant component in the reconstruction of Rodinia. Davidson gave a keynote talk on the tectonic history of the Grenville Province, Canada, and also presented a poster comprising a map showing the latest compilation of the northern (Canadian) part of Laurentia using the IGCP 440 legend. Similar maps were also presented for Australia (J. Myers), Central Africa (B. De Waele), and eastern Asia. The field trip that followed was attended by 28 persons (see photo
); the main emphasis of this trip was to compare and contrast the Mesoproterozoic greywacke-volcanic succession with its ultramafic pods (dismembered ophiolite?) with the Neoproterozoic rift successions, and the purported tectonic boundary between the two (Yangtse and Cathaysia blocks), with the late Neoproterozoic (Sinian) rift succession overlying both.
Participants on the South China field excursion at an abandoned quarry in ‘ophiolite’, Anhui Province. From Canada, Tony Davidson and John Myers are standing 5th and 6th from the right.
The second gathering of ‘Rodinians’ took place at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Seattle, Washington, 2–5 November. Special Session 124, “Testing Rodinia Using New Maps Compiled for Each Craton through IGCP 440”, attracted papers dealing with Rodinia-related topics in South America (2 papers), Africa (4), Antarctica (1), India (1), China (2), Russia (2), and North America (2). At the related Poster Session 137, “Tectonics II: Rodinia, Gondwana, Pangaea”, eight more presentations included map compilations for Canada (A. Davidson), USA (K. Karlstrom et al.), South America (R. Fuck et al.), Baltica (V. Pease, S. Bogdanova), Central Russia (D. Gladkouchoub et al.), and China (Z. Li, Y, Zheng, et al.). A meeting of the Map Steering Committee was also held, at which last-minute changes and additions to the Rodina legend were approved, a deadline of 31 March 2004 was set for submission of all compilations to Tectonics Special Research Centre at the University of Western Australia, and plans were made to hold a final meeting of this committee in May, before final reconstruction of the various Rodinia components, which will be presented at the 32nd
International Geological Congress in Florence, Italy, August 2004.
Concerning the Canadian component, certain difficulties or ambiguities were encountered in applying the Rodinia legend to the Grenville Province. Comments on the assignment of attributes to various parts of block, important to the assembly of Rodinia, were solicited, and valuable replies were received from R. Jamieson and N. Culshaw (Dalhousie University), T. Rivers (Memorial University), L. Corriveau (GSC Québec), J. Martignole (Université de Montréal), and J. McLelland (Colgate University, NY). Improvements based on these comments are being incorporated into the map, which is expected to be submitted before the deadline in 2004.
Project 443 (2000-2004) Magnesite and Talc
Canadian Leader: None appointed
No known Canadian involvement
Project 447 (2001-2005) Molar-tooth structures in Proterozoic carbonates*
Canadian Leader: Dr. Darrel G.F. Long†
The second international field meeting on Carbonates and Evolution of the Earth in the Proterozoic was held in and around Missoula and Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, between the 2nd
September 2003. Despite the plethora of forest fires, which restricted access to sections at Hungry Horse Dam, and pervasive smoke, which inhibited views of the spectacular mountain scenery, the 19 participants were able to see abundant molar-tooth structures in strata of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup. Participants came from Australia (2), France (3), Mexico (1), USA (9), India (1), and Canada (2). This included 5 graduate and 2 undergraduate students, who added considerably to the discussions on MT structures. Unfortunately the four participants from China (including Meng Xianghu, the Project leader, and Ge Ming, the project secretary), two of the three invited participants from India, one from Russia and one from Poland were unable to attend the meeting due to the increased stringency of US Visa requirements, despite faxes to the Embassies from the conference organizers, guarantees of financial support
, and originals of all documents. We had planned the meeting entirely within the US to avoid the problem of multiple border crossings, but had not anticipated the exceptional high rate of rejection of visa applications: we thank US Senator, Max Baucus and his assistant Miss. Kim Krueger, for their sterling efforts to resolve the visa problem in the two weeks before the meeting.
The meeting, organized by Darrel Long (Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario Canada) with the help of Brian Pratt (University of Saskatchewan, Canada) and Don Winston (University of Montana at Missoula MT, USA), consisted of a mixture of technical sessions, field observations and extensive scientific discussions. Don Winston led participants through the smoke to numerous exposures of MT structures in carbonates of the Belt Supergroup, where he expounded his opinions on the stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Belt basin, with alternative interpretations provided by Brian Pratt. The marked differences in opinion expressed by these two, led to lively discussions amongst the group and careful consideration of the evidence available, notably a plethora of sediment-filled cracks of possible subaerial, subaqueous, and seismic origin.
On September 3rd
we traveled from Missoula to Kalispell: our first stop was in the lower member of the Revett Quartzite, south of Ravalli. This consisted predominantly of even-parallel sets of medium and fine grained sandstone, which Don Winston and his co-workers have interpreted in
terms of a distal-fluvial flash-flood model, related to deposition at the base of alluvial fans
, or aprons which prograded into a playa lake. Following this we proceeded north and encountered our first Beltian Molar-tooth carbonates in an extensive section in the lower part of the Helena Formation. Structures interpreted as Pods by O’Conner appear to be early diagenetic concretions. Other features present in this hemi-cyclically stacked carbonate sequence were hummocky cross-stratified carbonate sands (HCS), some post-early diagenetic sedimentary dikes and possible Seismically Deformed Vein systems (SDV’s).
After lunch on the shores of Flathead Lake, we examined a section of mudstone and intraformational conglomerate units in the uppermost part of the St Regis Formation. As in the case of the Revett Formation, this section has been interpreted as shallow water sheet-flood and playa lake sediments by Don Winston, tidal-flat deposits by some authors, and deeper water strata by Brian Pratt. The next exposures visited were MT bearing dolostones near the top of the Helena Formation, which contained abundant shoaling hemicycles with HCS, gutter casts and Baïcalia stromatolite bioherms. The last stop of the day was in the Wallace Formation, immediately south of Kalispell, which provided us with the opportunity to examine laterally continuous carbonate sand beds in the Wallace Formation with abundant HCS. This sequence also contained MT and SDV’s or water escape structures. Early deformation of vertical MT sheets implied local slumping, although there is little difference in thickness of the Wallace Formation over large distances, suggesting that paleo-slopes were very gentle.
On the second day, we began our first technical sessions with a series of talks on the global distribution of MT carbonates. Anne Gore (a graduate student from University of Queensland in Townsville, Australia) began with a comprehensive review of MT in the Proterozoic of Australia, while Ritesh Purohit (an invited participant from the Government P.G. College in Sirohi, Rajasthan, India) explained the distribution of metamorphosed carbonates with MT in the Delhi Group in India. This was followed by a talk on Mesoproterozoic carbonates in Mauritania by Jack Roger (BRGM, Orléans, France), and the paleogeography of the Columbia and Rodinia Supercontinents by Jean-Pierre Lefort (Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France). Following this we had planned to visit two sections near Hungry Horse Dam: unfortunately these were the site of major forest fires, so we had to deviate from our original planned route, and sped through the smoke-filled valleys and mountain passes to examine the Altyn Formation at Apikuny Falls
, in Glacier National Park. This revealed a thick sequence of predominantly flat laminated limestones, with minor 3D combined flow ripples, well developed seismites, minor slumps and no MT structures! The top part of the shoaling sequence contained abundant stromatolites, and well-rounded granules of quartz (derived from the east). In the clouds above Apikuny Falls, we examined slabs of red mudstone, sandstone and siltstone of the Appekunny Formation, some of which contained trails of circular depressions apparently caused by biological activity. These trace fossils have been named Horodyskia after a famous Belt researcher.
On September 5th
the smoke thinned sufficiently so that we could see the mountains, and we proceeded back across the Going-to-the-sun road, in Glacier National Park, to Dead Horse Point, where Don Winston explained more of his concepts on Belt Stratigraphy, and we examined silty mudstones in the lower part of the Appekunny Formation which contained abundant evidence of slumping and intra-stratal extension. At the next stop, we examined more carbonates of the Helena Formation containing abundant MT structures. We then proceeded up the highway to examine the first occurrence of oolite-bearing strata, which Don has placed at the base of the revised Wallace Formation. This was overlain by a thick sequence of the Wallace Formation containing more MT bearing carbonates, and thick banks of stromatolites. Following lunch, at Lunch Creek, to examine Baïcalia-Conophyton cycles in the upper part of the Wallace Formation. We then proceeded to the top of Logan Pass
, to examine exposures of the Wallace/Snowslip transition and the Logan Sill. These exposures were along a narrow trail cut into the face of the mountain with a vertical drop of several hundred meters to the road below! From there we examined further exposures of the Wallace Formation, including a probable ash horizon, and then climbed up above the visitor centre to examine a wide variety of crack-fills in the redbeds of the Snowslip Formation. The evening was spent discussing our observations, and formulating plans for the next meetings.
On September 6th
, we had planned a long walk into the Grinell Glacier, but were brought to a sudden halt by the presence of a wounded Grizzly Bear cub on the trail. As this showed no intention of wandering off, we turned around and took an alternate route into the park to examine further exposures of the Grinell and Snowslip Formations.
On the 7th we resumed our technical sessions with a series of talks: Jack Roger presented a detailed account of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, and argued that this would make an excellent site for a IGCP 447 meeting in 2006. This was followed by a discussion on the oxidation state and sulphate content of the Precambrian Oceans. Jean-Pierre Lefort and colleagues then presented their ideas on the paleontological evidence for an antipodal position of the West African Craton and the position of Eastern China within Rodinia. After this, we moved on from Kalispell, to examine sections in the Belt on Route to Libby. Along the route we examined sections through the upper part of the Purcell Lava and member 6 of the Snowslip Formation. This contained MT carbonates, stromatolite bioherms and SDV’s. We then stopped next to a very thick sequence of the upper Helena Formation next to Libby dam, which contained more MT carbonates, pods, SDV’s and HCS. On the other side of the Lake we examined more MT carbonates, HCS and stromatolite bioherms in the Wallace Formation, along with a variety of crack-fill structures of uncertain origin.
The last day of the field meeting began in Libby, where we had originally planned a series of talks for the Morning. As rain had finally come to the area for the first time in several weeks (and in a big way), there was a local power-failure. This meant that we had to adjourn our meeting and travel to Missoula, to resume the session at the University of Montana in the evening. On the way we dodged the rain, and stopped at an exposure of member 3 of the Mount Shields Formation to examine salt casts and other evidence for hyper-salinity within the Belt Basin. The rest of the late afternoon and early evening was spent discussing paleogeography, the sedimentology of MT-bearing carbonates and theoretical and experimental constraints on the origin of MT structures in the Geology Department at the University of Montana.
The talks began with an explanation of possible new models for the reconstruction of the Columbia and Rodinia supercontinents by Lefort, and the apparent restriction of MT to the outer rims of these masses during breakup. This was followed by a talk on the origin of MT structures by sediment shrinkage
, injection and deformation during earthquakes, by Brian Pratt, and a review on the non-seismic model by Don Winston. Following extended discussion, especially on
the viability of vaterite as a precursor for MT micrite as this does not tend to form in chlorine-rich environments. We moved on to the examination of the potential use of the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility in the evaluation of sediment filled dikes of seismic dikes, and MT structures. Tahar Aifa explained the need to collect thick MT samples in order to detect the very subtle differences in the magnetic properties of the MT matrix and surrounding carbonate.
James Bishop (a graduate student from the University of California) then presented a remarkable talk on the MT structures in the Archean Monteville Formation of South Africa. The fine-grained carbonate fill of these structures, and their three-dimensional form qualifies these as the oldest known MT structures, at ~ 2.65 Ga. These developed well before the onset of a fully oxygenated biosphere. A marked difference between these and younger MT is the host rock, which is a laminated mudstone, not a carbonate! Following this talk, Graham Shields presented a summary of progress towards a geochemical model for MT formation, and extended an invitation for IGCP 447 members to join him in Australia, for the 2005 MT field meeting. Robert Bourrouilh and others presented the final talk. This introduced the concept of geochemical mapping of MT structures, using samples from China. This showed clear evidence of siliciclastic grains in the matrix of some MT strictures. Robert extended an invitation for all participants to take part in the next meeting during the IGCP in Florence Italy in August 2004.
The next meeting of IGCP 447 will be held as a symposium at the International Geological Congress in Florence Italy in August 2004 (abstracts due in November), and the subsequent meeting will be held in the field, in the Flinders Ranges of Australia, in May 2005. We have discussed extension of the Project beyond 2005, and may have the final meeting in Mauritania in 2006 if funds are available.
Abstract Volume and Field trip Guidebooks are available in pdf format from firstname.lastname@example.org