20th INQUA Congress

25.07 - 31.07.2019  
Dublin, Ireland

The 20th INQUA Congress will be held from 25-31 July 2019 in Dublin, Ireland.


The Convention Centre Dublin.


The scope of the INQUA2019 Congress will range across all areas of Quaternary research.

Climate change, sea-level rise, ice ages, human evolution, the migration of peoples, cultures, plants and animals, and the formation of the landscape and habitats of today are all subjects that elicit passion and interest among the public. The little-known term that incorporates all these scientific strands is 'The Quaternary'.

The Quaternary is a geological period, which began 2.6 million years ago and is characterised by ice-ages: cycles of colder, glacial conditions in mid- to high-latitudes interspersed with the warmer 'inter-glacial' periods in which we live today. It is the period during which humans evolved and includes the whole history of our species. In fact, so influential have humans become to the Earth’s processes that geologists have proposed a new geological sub-division for the latter years of the Quaternary – the Anthropocene – which is distinguished by the unmistakeable imprint of human activities on the geological record such as the extinctions caused by humans and evidence of nuclear energy and plastic production.

Call for sessions

The call for scientific session proposals for INQUA 2019 Dublin closes 31 March 2018.

Full details of the information needed at this stage is available here, along with a list of currently proposed sessions:

Important dates

31 March 2018: Deadline for proposals for scientific submissions
July 2018: Abstract submission opens
26 September 2018: Online registration opens
9 January 2019: Abstract submission deadline
27 March 2019: Close of early-bird registration
29 April 2019: Deadline for author registration for inclusion in final programme
22 July 2019: Online registration deadline
25 July 2019: Onsite registration opens


Abstract submission closes 9 January 2019:

Any questions relating to abstract submissions should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Authors are welcome to submit abstracts under the following congress commissions:

- Coastal and Marine Processes
- Humans and Biosphere
- Palaeoclimate
- Stratigraphy and Chronology
- Terrestrial Processes, Deposits and History


The full list of sessions per INQUA commission is available here (pdf).

Further information

You can also keep in touch with developments via Facebook and Twitter.

PAGES sessions

2k Network / Data Stewardship: Building a better understanding of past climates, ecosystems, and societies through Open Big Data
John W. Wiliams, Steven Phipps, Philip Buckland, Lucien von Gunten, Tim Hohler & Oliver Bothe

Information on past climatic, ecological, and societal changes is generated from a range of distinct proxies and archives. Quaternary science data resources have grown to a volume and complexity to be considered Big Data. Open data and workflows are essential to ensure high-quality, reproducible, global-scale insights into the operation of the earth system and its subsystems. Specific needs include: 1) gathering and sharing data through comprehensive, transparent, community-curated, and open data resources, 2) design and governance of these data resources so that they support the complexities of Quaternary data and the dispersion of data and knowledge across scientists and institutions, 3) building of open scientific workflows that connect primary data to derived inferences about e.g. global temperature fields, land cover reconstructions, and the distribution and evolution of societies, 4) designing systems to regularly update derived inferences as new records are generated and records updated, and 5) connecting these large-scale syntheses of observational data to earth system modeling and data-model assimilation. Significant advances are being made in all areas.

This session highlights current advances in the Quaternary data sciences and the continental- to global-scale paleoclimatic, paleoecological, and archaeological syntheses powered by these advances. We welcome contributions that describe advances in the data sciences (e.g. new data resources, protocols, links among data resources, establishment of communities of data contributors and stewards) and/or contributions that describe the resultant insights gained into the past climate system, biosphere, and societies at broad scales.

2k Network - CLIVASH2k: Holocene climate variability in Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere
Liz Thomas & Claire Allen

A session for palaeoclimatologists and paleooceanographers working on Holocene climate variability in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The aim is to investigate how large scale modes of atmospheric and oceanic variability, such as: the Southern Annual Mode (SAM), the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); influence the climate in Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere on both a regional and hemispheric scale. We invite reconstructions from a range of archives including ice cores, marine sediments, terrestrial records (peat, lake sediments ets) and climate modelling. We particularly encourage data- model inter comparison, multi-proxy studies and novel proxy development.

2k Network - PALEOLINK: Bridging the gap between proxies/reconstructions and simulations in the late Holocene period
Juan José Gómez-Navarro, Oliver Bothe, Patrick Ludwig & Eduardo Zorita

This session invites contributions on innovative approaches facilitating the comparability between the two main sources of information about past climate variability and past environmental changes, i.e. paleo-observations (proxies and reconstructions) and simulations. It welcomes research focused on designing and applying innovative methods for the joint use of observations and models in paleoscience, e.g., reanalyses, data assimilation, and proxy system models. Further, we encourage the submission of new approaches that bridge the scale gaps between simulations and observations allowing the characterisation of both model and proxy reconstruction uncertainties, e.g., downscaling and upscaling methods, as well as forward modelling techniques.

Aquatic Transitions: Lake systems in the Anthropocene
Nathalie Dubois, Catherine Dalton, Keely Mills, Aaron Potito & Émilie Saulnier-Talbot

This session encourages palaeolimnologists and palaeoecologists working at a range of spatial and temporal scales to showcase examples of novel methods (analytical and statistical) of distinguishing natural from anthropogenically-driven change as recorded in lake sediments.
Natural and anthropogenic drivers can elicit similar responses in lake systems, yet the ability to attribute what change recorded in lake sediments is natural, from that which is anthropogenic, is challenging. The ability to distinguish natural from anthropogenic change in lake sediment archives is increasingly important for understanding how lake systems have, and will continue to function when subjected to multiple stressors. This issue is particularly acute when considering management options, including restoration and conservation, for aquatic ecosystems.

The need to quantify the timing and onset of human disturbance in lake systems and the ability to disentangle this from other signals recorded in sediment archives is an increasing focus of work in both the scientific and management spheres. With a paucity of ‘real-time’ data, especially pre-dating any human impact, palaeolimnological archives often offer the only insight into both natural variability (that driven by long-term climate variability and intrinsic lake processes) and the impact of people. The palaeolimnological approach is a powerful tool in establishing the natural dynamics and range of variability of an ecosystem and enables comparisons with current conditions, thereby allowing future trajectories to be more tightly constrained.

C-PEAT: Peatland dynamics through time and their use as environmental archives
Graeme T. Swindles, Malin Kylander, Paul J. Morris, Richard Bindler, Angela Gallego-Sala, Timothy Mighall & Matthew J. Amesbury

Peatlands contain between a sixth and a third of all global soil carbon and represent important habitats.  Peatlands are also important environmental archives that provide an opportunity to generate high-resolution records with robust chronologies thanks to the wealth of dateable material. A wide range of biological and geochemical tools are used to reconstruct past paleoenvironmental changes in the peat record, which may reflect both internal (e.g., vegetation and water-table changes) and external (e.g., soil dust, pollution deposition, climate) drivers. This session covers topics including peatland initiation, carbon accumulation, and the hydrological, ecological and geochemical dynamics of peatlands across all latitudes. Key themes include (i) peatland response and resilience to external drivers, including the use of long-term records and to examine the vulnerability of global peatlands to human impacts and climate change; and (ii) the use of novel and multi-proxy approaches for the reconstruction of past paleoenvironmental changes. Data-based and modelling approaches, and studies integrating the two are welcome.

EcoRe3: Resilience, stability and abrupt change in long-term ecological records
Alistair Seddon, Michael Shawn Fletcher & Kathy Willis

Identifying the properties that underpin ecosystem resilience and/or stability in response to climate change and other disturbances is a global research priority, but the methods used to quantify ecological resilience can vary depending on the study system and context. Although there are a number of recent examples that have mapped components of ecological resilience at global scales, these ecological 'snapshots' are based on measurements documenting ecological changes from timescales of years to decades. Whether the patterns identified by such studies reflect fundamental properties of the systems, or are a result of historical disturbance legacies remains unknown. Thus, to fully understand the drivers and underlying dynamics resulting in ecological resilience requires a historical perspective that documents system dynamics covering timescales of centuries to millennia.
This session is dedicated to papers focussed on ecological resilience from long-term ecological records.We invite contributions which (i) introduce new techniques to quantify and compare components of resilience in long term ecological datasets; (ii) identify patterns (in time/ space) of drivers (biotic, abiotic) of stability and resilience; and (iii) test key assumptions and predictions of resilience theory using long-term methods. We encourage papers from across a range of biome types; from tropical to arctic, terrestrial to freshwater ecosystems, using timescales from decades, centuries, and millennia, including multi-proxy studies from individual sites to larger scale syntheses. Papers which use a combination of model data-asssimlation techniques and/or multi-proxy studies will be encouraged.

Floods Working Group: Palaeohydrology and Fluvial Archives - hydrological extreme and critical events (HEX)
Jürgen Herget, Alessandro Fontana, Becky Briant, & Lothar Schulte

Palaeohydrology addresses all components of the water cycle, although in practice most of the previous research has been focused on river channels and discharges, especially geomorphological and stratigraphic indicators of previous floods. Fluvial archives and landforms like river terraces and stacked fluvial sediments, alluvial fans, or lacustrine successions, tree-rings, speleothems and historical documents provide information of previous environmental conditions, including specific events and episodes. Hydrological events are defined by magnitudes higher (flood) or lower (drought) than a critical threshold, including extreme events of significantly differing magnitudes. Events may be unique or clustered in time and can significantly mark the landscape, e.g. by terrace formation.

In the session, a multi-disciplinary approach will be applied by bringing together scientists from different disciplines for exchanges about: Extreme hydrological events, addressing the spatial and temporal patterns of extremes in different world regions using multi-archives and multidisciplinary perspectives. Collation and presentation of results from research on palaeohydrology and fluvial archives. Human perception, resilience and response. For Holocene and historical events, consequences such as abandonment or shifting of settlements are important to assess the impact of floods or droughts and their magnitude and duration. New methods and techniques, integration of data from different archives and Quaternary river evolution, such as remote sensing, geochronology, modelling, numerical simulation, geochemical and isotopic analysis. The session is organised in cooperation of the groups of Global Continental Palaeohydrology GLOCOPH, Fluvial Archives Group FLAG, forming the INQUA International Focus Group HEX and the PAGES Floods Working Group.

GPWG2: A new age of Paleofire research: Insights from the past and challenges for the future
Donna Hawthorne, Anne-Laure Daniau, Olivier Blarquez, Boris Vannière & Scott Mooney

Local charcoal time series and their regional and global syntheses have increased our knowledge of fire history, fire-vegetation-climate relationships and fire practices from a range of biomes and countries a cross the globe, spanning decades to multi-millennia. Advances in methodologies, statistical analyses and modelling have progressed the interpretation of charcoal in different depositional contexts and the understanding of paleofire regime controls. Long-term trends in biomass burning have primarily been attributed to natural climate variability and vegetation dynamics associated with changes in net primary productivity. However, many Holocene studies have suggested a regional control of fire based on human activity and changes in land cover. It is apparent that the different factors affecting fire regimes, vary from the local to regional scale, and on multi-decadal to multi-millennial timescales. Future fire risk is expected to increase, accelerating the need for a deeper understanding of the role of fire in the landscape, and its interaction with vegetation and climate, in order to address the vulnerability of ecosystems and strategies of ecosystem management, such as mitigation.

This session will combine paleofire research from across the globe, enhancing the knowledge of climate, human, vegetation and fire linkages. New methodological approaches and calibration studies are welcome, specifically from regions underrepresented in the Global Charcoal Database. The Global Paleofire Working Group supports paleofire research, and we anticipate this session will foster new collaborations, ideas and networking. We welcome participants to interact and contribute to the next phase of the GPWG, ‘phase 3’, and a new age of paleofire research.

LandCover6k: Upscaling palaeoecological, archaeological and historical records of land-use and landcover change to the globe
Marie-José Gaillard, Andria Dawson & Esther Githumbi

In-depth knowledge of long- and medium-term dynamics of agriculture in the past and the perspective of historical/prehistorical evidence on 'sustainability' issues may be essential in policy making related to sustainable land-system management today and in the future. In a changing world, both in terms of resource availability and climate, sustainable land systems need to be based on holistic syntheses of knowledge on the effect of land-use and land-cover change on natural resources and the climate system. Land-use change is one of many climate forcings. The net effect of both biogeochemical and biogeophysical processes due to land-use change is still a matter of debate.

This session is linked to PAGES LandCover6k working group, whose primary goal is to provide earth system modelers (e.g. the CMIP and PMIP initiatives) with relevant, empirical data on past land-use and anthropogenic land-cover change over the globe. These global land-cover datasets are being provided as terrestrial forcing scenarios for ALCC modelling and earth system models (ESMs), and for other researchers interested in vegetation-atmosphere feedbacks and the early advent of the Anthropocene. The time period studied by LandCover6k covers the Holocene up to AD 1850. The session welcomes all contributions on historic and pre-historic long-term dynamics and drivers of land-use, anthropogenic land-cover and land- system change that may cast light on the characteristics of sustainable versus non-sustainable land systems over time, e. g. pollen-based land-use and land-cover change, archaeological and historical records and related palaeoecological data, as well as modelling studies on anthropogenic land-cover change (ALCC) and climate-land use interactions.

a. Into the Ice Age: Exploring the distribution and volume of ice sheets during past glaciations

Jeremy Shakun, Anders Carlson & Tamara Pico

Though ice sheets are a defining feature of the ice age, detailed reconstructions regarding either ice extent or ice thickness prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (26 ka) remain elusive. Our understanding of previous glaciations is limited by sparse records of prior ice margins on land and geologic sea-level markers, which can be contaminated by a variety of processes that introduce vertical displacement, such as glacial-isostatic adjustment or dynamic topography. Nevertheless, such data are key to partitioning paleo-sea-level budgets, producing accurate reconstructions of global mean sea level, and providing critical boundary conditions for climate models, with the goal of assessing the stability of ice sheets in response to past climate change.

As part of PALeo constraints on SEA level rise (PALSEA), we invite data-based and modeling submissions from communities that intersect at the question of glaciation, drawing from research fields in glacial geology, sea level, solid-Earth geodynamics, and ice-climate interactions. In particular, we welcome submissions using innovative techniques that aim to constrain the dimensions of ice sheets and their implications for sea-level and climate change.

b. Mapping and interpreting sea-level change through time and space
Nicole S Khan, Jacqueline Austermann, Roland Gehrels & Benjamin P Horton

Sea-level projections are derived by establishing a robust relationship between sea level and climate forcing, but the majority of instrumental records contain <60 years of 20th and 21st century data that only capture a single climate mode of rising temperatures and sea level within a baseline state that is climatically mild by geological standards. Geological proxies from glacial-interglacial time periods provide valuable, complementary archives of the sea-level response to climate variability, including periods of more extreme climatic forcing. Information from the geological record can help provide a firmer basis for projecting the future, but current ties between past changes and future projections are often vague and heuristic. Greater interconnections between the two sub-disciplines may be key to major progress.

The linked problems of characterizing past sea-level changes and projecting future sea-level rise share two fundamental challenges. First, regional and local sea-level changes vary substantially from the global mean due to processes such as glacial isostatic adjustment. Understanding mechanisms of regional variability is critical to interpreting records of past changes and linking them to global ice volume changes. Second, uncertainty is pervasive in both records of past changes and in the physical and statistical modeling approaches used to project future changes, and requires careful quantification and statistical analysis. We welcome abstracts that describe local sea level records and examine the driving mechanisms of local sea-level change, potentially with a focus on integrating these records with statistical and physical models to enhance our understanding of present and future sea-level changes.

PEOPLE 3000: Human-environment interactions in the late Quaternary: sources of evidence and applications
Encarni Montoya, José Iriarte, Bronwen Whitney, Erick Robinson, Jacob Freeman, Steinar Solheim, Adolfo Gil & Claudio Latorre

The last glacial period was characterised by similar environmental shifts that shaped the Pleistocene climatic conditions but differed from previous intervals in the occurrence of large human populations spread worldwide.  Hence, by the end of the late Glacial, humans inhabited in all the continents and continued expanding their distribution area until the last, currently populated islands, were occupied in the last centuries. This new forcing factor likely altered the natural dynamics’ trends of the ecosystems. However, the magnitude and rate of the anthropogenic footprint on the environment largely differs among regions.

This session aims to highlight the relationships between humans and the environment from natural and anthropogenic points of view. We welcome contributions dealing with the socio-cultural approaches undertaken by early colonisers, the cultural developments following environmental shifts, as well as the responses of ecosystems to the human occupancy and land use evolution. Also, new methodological approaches and the application of palaeodata to other disciplines will be encouraged. Multi-disciplinary research investigating human populations, natural dynamics and their interactions as part of the same ecosystem are needed to understand how the Earth system works and to accurately project potential future scenarios. This session is organized in collaboration with PAGES' PEOPLE 3000 (Paleoclimate and the Peopling of the Earth) working group.

QUIGS: The Last Interglacial and interglacial comparisons: local records and global signals
Martin Head & Eric Wolff

The Last Interglacial (~130 ka), while differing from the Holocene in orbital characteristics, remains the most recent past guide for our near future climate, with estimated global temperatures several degrees warmer than today. Captured in marine and terrestrial sediments and ice cores, it provides a widespread, accessible, and societally important record of Earth's response to warming, and has particular interest in the response of ice sheets and sea level. Furthermore the onset of the Last Interglacial is traditionally used to demarcate the base of the Upper Pleistocene Subseries, a unit not yet formally defined but under present consideration by the International Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy.

This session will address local to global expressions of the Last Interglacial and explore leads and lags in the climate response. Contributions that compare features of the Last Interglacial with those of other Quaternary interglacials will also be welcome.

VICS: Climatic and human impacts of volcanism during the Quaternary
Francis Ludlow, Michael Sigl & Céline Vidal

Volcanic eruptions produce regional to global climatic impacts. Global-scale impacts arise primarily from the injection of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, where it oxidizes to form sulfate aerosols, leading to changes in atmospheric clarity and an associated backscattering of incoming solar radiation. The net temperature impact of these aerosols is a short-term but potentially large decrease in global mean surface temperatures. Patterns of atmospheric circulation and precipitation can also be impacted, leading to complex regional hydroclimatic impacts. Explosive volcanic eruptions have occurred during the Quaternary on a frequency and magnitude (e.g. Toba super-eruption) far beyond the range of contemporary human experience.

Studying the impacts of such eruptions in climate model simulations, as well as examining the fingerprints of such eruptions in geologic deposits (e.g. ice cores) and proxy records (e.g. tree-rings and others) provides valuable insight into the likelihood and consequences of this major geological and climatic hazard. Climate models, proxy-based palaeoclimatic reconstructions and instrumental data do not, however, always agree on the climatic impact of major historic eruptions, pointing to the need for further research. Volcanically induced climate changes also provide tests of societal vulnerability and response to abrupt and severe climatic variability. Under the remit of the PAGES VICS Working Group, this session thus invites contributions that examine how major eruptions have affected climate and societies, using climate modelling, historical, archaeological, palaeoecological and other records, to further our understanding of the potential climatic and societal impacts of past and future eruptions.

Sessions from PAGES Scientific Steering Committee members

Plio-Pleistocene environmental change and human origins
Asfawossen Asrat, Henry Lamb & Frank Schäbitz

Understanding the relationship between earth system history and human origins is an enduring challenge of broad scientific and public interest. Key questions include: how did climate and tectonic change interact during critical intervals of human evolution? What processes regulated this history on local and regional scales? How and when did climatic and tectonic processes combine to influence hominin habitats, food resources, demography and dispersal? Were these changing conditions related to evolutionary p rocesses and events in the hominin lineage?  New research in Africa, Asia and Europe aims to test a variety of hypotheses about how environmental change may have influenced human origins and dispersal across the globe. We invite contributions on these issues from a diverse range of researchers in Plio-Pleistocene sciences, including geochronology, archaeology and palaeoanthropology.

Geoscience for sustainable futures
Keely Mills, Peter Gell & Émilie Saulnier-Talbot

2015 saw the adoption of the ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in a bid to "end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all". At the same time, the UN released the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), with the outcome to substantially reduce disaster, loss of life, and to protect physical, social, and environmental assets. This was closely followed by the 2016 Paris Agreement to combat, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. All of these challenges are simultaneously local and global in scope, and indeed all of these challenges are at the interface between Earth and human systems, and require coherent solutions that integrate environmental and social science. It requires understanding of lessons from the past, monitoring of the present, and modelling of potential future outcomes. Geoscience can play a key role in addressing and contributing to state-of-the-art scientific knowledge required to address these challenges at a global scale, through the generation of high-quality data, international partnerships, and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving. Despite this, few geoscientists are engaged in issues surrounding sustainable development.

This session encourages geoscientists to showcase examples of applied science that are relevant to a sustainable future from both a scientific and applied perspective, demonstrating how the palaeo-sciences can be used to secure a sustainable future, from climate change mitigation to managing for natural hazards, and thereby underpinning the UN’s SDGs. Example disciplines include: palaeovolcanics, palaeoseismicity, glaciology, palaeotempestology, palaeoecology and a range of other Quaternary-related subjects.

Combining palaeoecology with ecological models
Paul Henne, Christoph Schwörer & Willy Tinner

Palaeoecology provides detailed records of ecological change with unmatched temporal coverage. However, competing hypotheses can often account for observed changes. For example, vegetation changes during the Holocene are often alternatively ascribed to climatic change or human impacts. Furthermore, different aspects of climate change (e.g. temperature, precipitation abundance, precipitation seasonality) can have similar impacts. Disentangling the causes of past ecological change is critical to understanding ecosystem dynamics and anticipating the long-term interactions of human impacts and global change. Ecological models synthesize present understanding of ecological processes and apply this understanding to changing conditions. However, model evaluation is difficult with modern observations alone, especially for processes that exceed the decadal scale.  Combining ecological models with palaeoecological records can overcome the limitations of each approach.

Dynamic models can test competing hypothesis that account for past change, and quantify thresholds and tipping points. In turn, palaeoecological records provide long-term empirical data needed to evaluate model performance and identify knowledge gaps. Improvements in computational capacity, combined with the broadening availability of multiproxy Quaternary records, allows increasing integration of modelling with palaeoecology. Models operate on multiple spatial and temporal scales, from the landscape (e.g. dynamic landscape vegetation models) to global scales (e.g. dynamic global vegetation models), and from days to millennia, and can simulate competition among species, disturbance processes such as wildfire, human impacts, geochemical fluxes, and hydrological processes.  This session will gather a diverse group of international scientists who combine the power of Quaternary records and ecological modelling to understand long-term ecological change.

Side-meetings and workshops

1. EcoRe3 will hold its final meeting during the conference. More information to come.

2. PALSEA will hold the first meeting of the working group's third phase, from 21-23 July.