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Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group

Cambridge Quaternary

Welcome to the last 2.6 million years!

Knowledge of the palaeoenvironment and palaeogeography of the recent geological past is fundamental to our understanding of modern physical, biological and human environments. Understanding this period, the Quaternary, is the central focus of research in the Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group (QPG).

The Quaternary, the last 2.6 million years of geological time, saw major climatic changes which caused ice sheets to advance into temperate latitudes. Repeated glacial episodes caused significant fluctuations in sea level, major geographical changes and major plant and animal population migrations. Sedimentary sequences record these changes in great detail and are central to unravelling past events.

We use a multidisciplinary approach which embraces wide ranging litho-, bio- and chronostratigraphical methods to unravel events during Quaternary and later Neogene time. Current research of the QPG includes:

Featured pages

This site contains information about:

And web publications on:

The QPG is part of the Cambridge Quaternary (CQ - formerly the Godwin Institute of Quaternary Research - GIQR) ,
within the Department of Geography , University of Cambridge .

News

"Anthropocene pinned to post-war period" - comment in Science 26 August 2016.

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Geologists vote to seek a "golden spike," but push for formal acceptance faces skepticism By Paul Voosen

Valerie Hall

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It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of our friend and colleague Emeritus Professor Valerie Hall of Queens University, Belfast, School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology. She died in hospital on Friday 29 July after a period of illness.

New version of the Global chronostratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 million years published

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The 2016 version of the Global chronostratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 million years by K.M.Cohen & P.L.Gibbard is now available from the INQUA-SACCOM and ICS Subcommission of Quaternary Stratigraphy websites.

Matti Eronen 1944-2016

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We are sad to report the unfortunate death of our colleague and friend Professor Matti Eronen (University of Helsinki). He died peacefully on 8.7.2016 following a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

IUGS position statement on the 'Anthropocene' - The 'Anthropocene' Epoch: scientific decision or political statement?

Despite what the media may have suggested, the 'Anthropocene' is not a formally defined geological unit within the Geological Time Scale. However, the term has been used by scientists and has been particularly useful for the global change research community. The formalisation of this unit is the task of the working group on the Anthropocene under the IUGS International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). To date, no formal proposal for this unit has been presented by the working group to ICS leaders. The activities of the ICS are conducted under 16 subcommissions, whose members work on specific, longer-term scientific tasks such as the standardisation of stratigraphic units, the documentation and communication of major stratigraphic data to the global earth-science community, and international stratigraphic cooperation. All decisions of the full ICS Commission, comprising over 2000 members in total, are subject to ratification of the IUGS Executive Committee. In their article 'Anthropocene' epoch: Scientific decision or political statement? ICS Chairman Stan Finney and Lucy Edwards (Commissioner, North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature) express their concern that the drive to formalise this particular unit of geological time may be political.
Download the article here: http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/26/3/pdf/i1052-5173-26-3-4.pdf

PhD awarded

It is a pleasure to announce that Ms Samia Akram has been awarded a PhD degree by Punjab University following approval of her thesis entitled 'Palynology of the Early Jurassic Sediments (Datta Formation) Salt Range, Pakistan' (Lahore: Saturday, 20 February, 2016). Ms Akram visited the QPG laboratories for six months during her thesis research.

The human layer

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Phil Gibbard interviewed 13.1.2016 in Helsinki for YLE News on the 'Anthropocene'. Ihmisen mukaan nimetty aikakausi on ehkä alkanut maapallolla – suurin muutos sitten jääkauden (The era named after Man may have begun on Earth - the biggest change since the Ice Age).

Environmental Damage Is Bad Enough To Create A New Geologic Period by Alejandro Davila Fragoso 7 January, 2016. Climate Progress.

Human impact has pushed Earth into the Anthropocene, scientists say. 8 January, 2016. The Guardian.

'Case is made' for Anthropocene Epoch. by Jonathan Amos Science correspondent BBC News, 8 January, 2016.

Is our planet entering a new geological epoch? The Christian Science Monitor 8 January 2016.

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Helen Gordon asks whether humanity's impact on its environment so huge that the planet has entered a new geological era: the Anthropocene? The idea is gaining ground – and dividing scientists.

Simon Price awarded a Future Cities Prize Fellowship 2015

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PhD student Simon Price has been awarded a Future Cities Prize Fellowship to present his ideas of what cities will be like at the first annual Future Cities conference in July 2016.

Emma Gatti: an Italian scientist at NASA - "I try to find water on Mars".

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Emma Gatti, from Milan, is a geochemistry and vulcanologist who, after her doctorate at Cambridge, has landed at NASA where she is searching for water on Mars.

The Ice Age

The Ice Age book provides a look at the climatic history of the last 2.6 million years during the ice age, a time of extreme climatic fluctuations that have not yet ended. The book focuses on the changing state of these glaciers and the effects of associated climate changes on a wide variety of environments (including mountains, rivers, deserts, oceans and seas) and also plants and animals. For example, at times the Sahara was green and colonized by humans, and Lake Chad covered 350,000 km2 larger than the United Kingdom. What happened during the ice age can only be reconstructed from the traces that are left in the ground. The work of the geoscientist is similar to that of a detective who has to reconstruct the sequence of events from circumstantial evidence. The book is published on 27 November 2015.

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Phil Gibbard appointed ICS Secretary-General 2016-2020

Phil Gibbard has been appointed the Secretary-General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy 2016-20. The new ICS executive will be installed at the 35th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in summer 2016.

Phil Gibbard awarded the James Croll Medal 2014

Professor Phil Gibbard was awarded the prestigious James Croll Medal 2014 by Quaternary Research Association at the QRA's 2015 Annual Discussion Meeting in Edinburgh on 6 January 2015 by the President, Professor Peter Coxon. (photograph by Kim Cohen).

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The history of the Subdepartment of Quaternary Research 1948-1994 - by Richard West

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The David Mayhew Memorial Meeting

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Participants at the David Mayhew Memorial Meeting held at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge on 17 April 2014.

Phil Gibbard awarded the André Dumont Medal 2014

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Professor Phil Gibbard has been awarded the prestigious André Dumont Medal by Geologica Belgica, the Belgian national geological society. The medal was presented to Phil at the society's 2014 meeting in Ghent on 1 April 2014 by the President, Professor Sara Vandycke.

A new version of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart!

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The International Commission on Stratigraphy's (ICS) Chronostratigraphic Chart has been adapted for Shell's headquarters in Den Haag, The Netherlands. Originally published in English the chart is now available in French, Chinese, Norwegian, Basque and Spanish language versions. For more views click on image.

Science Live webchat

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Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago. Science 340 19.04.13. Professor Phil Gibbard will be joining archaeologist Bruce Smith, from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, USA, for a Science Live web chat discussion entitled Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago. The discussion can be viewed on the Science website and YouTube.

International Chronostratigraphic Charts published

The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) published a new Chronostratigraphic Chart in July 2012 at the International Geological Conference. The chart was designed and produced by S.Finney, K. Cohen and P.Gibbard. It was originally published in English but is available in French, Chinese, Norwegian, Basque and Spanish language versions (April 2013). Other language versions may be published in future.

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Charles Turner awarded the Albrecht Penck Medal 2012

Charles Turner has been awarded the highly prestigious Albrecht Penck Medal by the Deutsche Quartärvereinigung (DEUQUA) at their 36. Hauptversammlung in Bayreuth in September 2012 to mark his contribution to Quaternary research.

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The Anthropocene question

s+v12 An article presenting the details of the concept of the Anthropocene and the division of geological time. (published in the August 2012 issue of the french magazine Science et Vie 2012).

Chris Jeans awarded the Collins Medal

Our own Chris Jeans will be awarded the Collins Medal for 2013 by the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He was already made an Honorary Fellow of the Society in 2011.

'The Collins Medal is awarded annually to a scientist who, during a long and active career, has made an outstanding contribution to pure or applied aspects of Mineral Sciences and associated studies. Publications, teaching, outreach and other activities leading to the promotion of mineral sciences, in the broadest sense, will be taken into account in making the award. - Mineralogical Society .'

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Quaternary Glaciations - Extent and Chronology, Volume 15: A closer look

Now available Quaternary Glaciations - Extent and Chronology, Volume 15: A closer look (Developments in Quaternary Science) [Hardcover]
J. Ehlers (Editor), P.L. Gibbard (Editor), P.D. Hughes (Editor). Full digital maps and data from this project are available at: http://booksite.elsevier.com/9780444534477/

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Clay minerals in onshore and offshore strata of the British Isles

Clay minerals in onshore and offshore strata of the British Isles. 2006 (edited C.V.Jeans & R.J.Merriman) Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 550pp. Available from the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland.

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From Brandon to Bungay

Now published - From Brandon to Bungay by Richard G. West, an exploration of the landscape history and geology of the Little Ouse and Waveney rivers on the Suffolk - Norfolk border of East Anglia. Available from Suffolk Naturalist's Trust, Ipswich.

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Compilation maps for the Last Glacial Maximum

updated New compilation maps for the Last Glacial Maximum - compiled from the Quaternary glaciations - Extent and Chronology by Jürgen Ehlers & Philip Gibbard (see below). Click on the map below to see the new plot based on Google Earth projection.

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Projects

Group gallery

Happisburgh

click photograph for gallery. Featuring some new pictures from 12 March 2013 excursion!


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