18 Nov 2019 - 22 Nov 2019

Fifty years ago, in 1969, Erno Oele and Cees Laban finalized a Quaternary geological map depicting the northern half of the Dutch North Sea. By combining seismic data and descriptions of about eighty vibrocores with analyses of palynomorphs, they were able to capture half a million years of geological history, from the Elsterian glaciation to the present.

We have come a long way since then. Quaternary geological maps of the North Sea, English Channel and Celtic Sea summarize decades of intense marine surveying, laboratory work and drawing, and provide the context for research on topics ranging from ice-sheet configuration in the North Sea basin to terrigenous fluxes at the Celtic Margin. We have been able to answer some fundamental questions about the impact of growing and shrinking ice sheets on continental-scale drainage systems, the role of climate change in triggering extreme events, the defining influence of paleolandscapes on human migration and well-being, and commonalities between continental sedimentary and marine isotope records. Still, many challenges remain and important follow-up questions have arisen that can only be answered with new information and knowledge.

In support of the transition toward renewable energy, vast volumes of seismic data are presently collected offshore, and many deep boreholes are drilled for sediment characterization. Joint analysis of these data in a coordinated, transnational and multidisciplinary way would boost our understanding of a unique record of glacial and interglacial sediments and landforms. Improved analytical methods would constrain paleoenvironmental setting, age of formation, provenance, and lateral variability of lowstand and highstand systems alike. Independently collected data from key connecting sites would be a crucial final element in generating knowledge on a scale covering entire drainage systems, marine basins, and submerged landscapes.

The conference in Utrecht aims at exchanging and connecting knowledge on Middle-Pleistocene to present-day geological processes and landscape development from the North Sea to the Celtic Margin, searching for direct and indirect signs of human presence and colonization of these landscapes, exploring opportunities to profit from vast volumes of new subsurface data collected for windfarm development, and discussing potential topics and possible funding mechanisms for research linking late-Quaternary subsurface records from north to south.

Themes (plenary sessions and posters):

1. glacial/interglacial subsurface record
a. glaciotectonics, ice-sheet configuration and drainage directions
b. preserved fluvial drainage systems and scour holes
c. preserved lake sediments and catastrophic discharge
d. deltaic and marine sediments
2. climate and environmental reconstructions
a. climate records
b. interglacial sea-level records
c. neotectonics and isostasy
d. MIS 5 cooling and sea-level fall
3. drowned landscapes, their occupants and what they left behind
a. reconstruction of incompletely preserved landscapes
b. linking landscapes to vegetation
c. human and other faunal occupation
d. effects of rapidly migrating coastlines
4. transnational seabed mapping and subsurface modeling
a. glacial, fluvial and marine geomorphology
b. seabed sediment as environmental indicator
c. use cases of the European Marine Observation and Data network EMODnet
d. use cases of national programs and data repositories
5. equipment and methodology
a. developments in geophysical surveying
b. developments in coring technology
c. developments in core scanning
d. developments in DNA analysis, geochemistry and dating methods

Organizing Committee: dr. S. van Heteren and M.A.M. Vissinga-Schalkwijk (TNO – Geological Survey of the Netherlands), dr. T. Missiaen (Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium), prof. dr. M. De Batist (Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Ghent University, Belgium), someone from Utrecht University – for NWO funding?


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