S1) The Quaternary record of aeolian systems in mid- to high-latitudes


Co-Chairs:  Stephen Wolfe (Geological Survey of Canada); Nick Lancaster (Desert Research Institute)


In recent years, the significance of cold climate aeolian processes in mid to high latitudes has been increasingly recognized.   In addition to widespread production and dispersal of glaciogenic silt-size material to form extensive loess deposits, dune fields also formed as ice sheets and glaciers retreated and released large amounts of sand-sized material that was reworked under periglacial and cold climate conditions into dunes and sand sheets.   Such aeolian systems are widespread in the northern and central plains of the USA and Canada; similar systems also occur in Alaska and the Yukon; northern and central Europe; central Asia; Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.  In all these areas, aeolian deposits and landforms preserve an important record of Quaternary sediment dispersal and episodic accumulation, as well as a unique data set on past wind regimes and regional-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. Luminescence dating of deposits is providing an increasingly precise numerical chronology of depositional events, enabling correlation with other proxy data sets, including records of dust deposition in ice cores and marine sediments.  In addition, the reworking of dune areas during Holocene mega-drought periods further provides insights into the response of boreal and mid-latitude ecosystems to future climate change.


In this session, we will explore the Quaternary history of mid-to high-latitude cold climate aeolian systems and demonstrate their importance as indicators of past and future environmental change.  Our goal will be to integrate regional patterns of sand and loess accumulation and show that these two components of the aeolian system are interconnected.  Oral presentations will review regional aeolian history; responses to changes in sediment supply, mobility, and availability; patterns of dispersal of far-travelled aeolian dust; and modern and ancient cold climate aeolian processes.

S2) Island biogeography in a changing world: an interdisciplinary roadmap from the Quaternary


Co-Chairs: Melissa Kemp (Harvard University); Alexis Mychajliw (La Brea Tar Pits & Museum)

As physically isolated entities, islands and island-like systems (e.g. lakes and mountain top “sky islands”) have served as models for understanding ecological and evolutionary processes. However, the isolation afforded to island and island-like systems has become increasingly eroded by human activity throughout the Quaternary. The legacy of human activity on islands includes not only the loss of evolutionarily unique lineages and ecological communities, but also the creation of novel species interactions and altered ecosystem processes. But human colonization history is just one force that shaped island systems during this period; climate and environmental change also played a role in transforming these systems into what they are today.


The goal of this session is to highlight Quaternary research that provides glimpses into what insular systems were like before, during, and after encountering geological, biological, and anthropogenic drivers of biotic change. This yields an interdisciplinary opportunity to leverage Quaternary records of change for planning future conservation efforts in these and other systems, as islands sit on the frontlines of climate change, species invasions, and habitat loss today. We hope to bring together a diverse group of researchers to share perspectives on both systems and techniques, generating a dialogue that crosses disciplinary boundaries.


S3) Empirically testing paleoglaciological hypotheses and models


Co-Chairs Jonathan E. Cripps and Tracy A. Brennand (Simon Fraser University)


Linking the landform evidence of ancient glaciers and ice sheets to climate variations is fundamental for anticipating the response of modern ice sheets to future climate change. Numerical modelling of Pleistocene ice sheets provides a means to link understanding of modern ice dynamics to ancient analogues, but such models must be verified or falsified against the landform evidence, or else remain strictly hypothetical. Similarly, competing conceptual models of the genesis of glacial landforms may assume different dynamics and environmental conditions; field and experimental observations of glacial landforms genesis are required to rigorously test competing hypotheses of landform genesis and provide the necessary link to climate variations and paleoenvironments. This session will welcome presentations adding empirical data to test any hypotheses and models pertaining to glacier and ice sheet dynamics and their links to environmental change.

S4) Syntheses of human-environment interactions during the Holocene


Co-Chairs: Konrad Gajewski and Michelle Chaput  (University of Ottawa)

 Throughout the Holocene, human activity and land use have manipulated and influenced the environment in innumerable ways. Environmental changes have had impacts on human population dynamics and human actions also. The literature is full of examples, but the quantitative association of human populations and environmental change is still not well understood. The availability of regional, continental, and global databases of past environments (e.g., Neotoma Paleoecology Database, Global Charcoal Database) and paleodemography (e.g., Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database), as well as new paleoclimate reconstructions from around the world, are enabling quantitative studies of the association between environmental change and human populations and cultures. In this session, we welcome discussions of results, methods and databases that bring new insight and advance our knowledge of human-environment interactions at regional to global scales. Questions related to the causative factors of cultural change, human impacts on ecosystems and landscapes, Pleistocene extinctions on the different continents, interdisciplinary Holocene mapping projects, and the use of big data in paleoecology would be relevant. Discussions between archaeologists, ecologists and climatologists of complex, regional- and global-scale syntheses of human-environment interactions are needed and will greatly advance the field.


S5) Mapping the Quaternary – Advances and applications of surficial geology mapping


Co-Chairs: Kristen Kennedy (Yukon Geological Survey); Dan Utting (Alberta Geological Survey); Alain Plouffe (Geological Survey of Canada)


Surficial geology mapping is undertaken by geological surveys, academia, and private sector geologists at many scales, for many purposes. This session invites oral and poster presentations on all aspects of surficial geological mapping including but not limited to: Quaternary history reconstructions derived from mapping projects; new or modified landform process models that can inform mapping; examples of mapping applied to natural hazards including neotectonics and mass wasting processes; applications of thematic maps for mineral exploration, aggregate inventory or land use planning; and new developments in the technical aspect of mapping. To encourage discussion, authors might include obscure or unidentified landforms, mapping anomalies or other unresolved issues. 


S6) Reducing the “Time to Science”: Data Management in the Quaternary Sciences

(Lightning session: 5 min talks)


Co-Chairs: Simon Goring (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Michelle Chaput (University of Ottawa); Konrad Gajewski (University of Ottawa)

Data resources in the Quaternary Sciences spans a range of complexity that may include individual photographs, user spreadsheets, community databases, tables within publications, word of mouth, remote sensing systems, climate simulations and sensor networks.  Organizations such as the Earth Science Information Partnership, EarthCube, the Research Data Alliance and others have been working to mobilize Earth Science data to help researchers answer outstanding questions, ask new questions, and ensure that access to data and tools is equitable and open.


 We welcome individuals from any disciplinary background, working with any scale of data, these lightning talks are intended to be semi-informal opportunities to hear from others managing common problems or finding novel solutions to information management and data access across the Quaternary Sciences. Case studies, workflow tools, new data resources, software solutions, data archaeology and new results using old data resources are welcome.


S7) Improving understanding of Quaternary Environments through multi-proxy, network, or statistical advances

Co-Chairs: Andria Dawson (Mt Royal University); Simon Goring (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Current understanding of Quaternary Environments depends on the interpretation of paleo-data. Over the last century, advances in statistical methods, computing, and data sharing have resulted in a shift from qualitative interpretation of proxy data to quantitative analyses of networks of sites. These networks may include biological, geophysical, isotopic and chemical records, or combinations thereof.  These new approaches provide the ability to address persistent questions about spatio-temporal changes in Quaternary Environments as a function of paleo-proxy records.

As the field of Quaternary Sciences evolves, long-standing questions about Quaternary environments are being addressed in novel ways; this is often the result of collaboration among geoscientists and those from either statistics, mathematics, or computer science.

This sessions will address the central themes of: (1) new or emerging methods to improve inference from paleo-proxy data, (2) multi-proxy inference, and (3) inference resulting from analysis of a network of sites.


S8) The relict permafrost environment


Co-Chairs: Trevor Porter (University of Toronto); Denis Lacelle (University of Ottawa); Duane Froese (University of Alberta)

Permafrost is a thermal condition of the ground, but also a relict feature, having formed sometime in the past. The persistence of cold ground temperatures for periods of hundreds to tens of thousands of years provides a remarkable opportunity to understand past environments from water isotopes and geochemical proxies, and ancient biomolecules along with plant, faunal and microbial records.  However, the nature and genesis of icy permafrost also influences the form and distribution of ground ice and thus terrain sensitivity to future climate change.  We invite submissions on all aspects of relict permafrost research aimed at reconstructing past environments, including preservation of proxies in icy permafrost, but also contributions that consider the influence of past environments on the occurrence and sensitivity of ground ice to disturbance.


S9) Changes in the wildfire regime and impact on ecosystem structure and functions


Co-Chairs: Olivier Blarquez  (Université de Montréal); Nicolas Pelletier (Carleton University)


In recent years, North American climatic conditions have become increasingly conducive to wildfires, leading to record fire seasons affecting both fire prone ecosystems such as Californian chapparals and ecosystems rarely subjected to fires such as tundras. Wildfires can drastically modify terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and climate change predictions suggest a further increase in the frequency and extent of those impacts. This session will cover the evolution of the North American fire regime during the Holocene and the impact of the changes in fire regime on ecosystem structure and function.


Among subjects of interest are new methods for the statistical interpretation of charcoal particles in sediments, effects of wildfires on lakes and river biogeochemical cycling, effects on the freshwater transport of contaminants and the use of paleolimnological data to infer terrestrial processes such as changing vegetation patterns, permafrost cover or northern treeline movement. Talks and poster linking paleolimnological data to monitoring or remote sensing data are also of high interest.


S10) High-resolution Records of the Common Era


Co-Chairs: Jeannine-Marie St-Jacques (Concordia University) and Matthew Peros (Bishop’s University)


This joint CANQUA/AMQUA session features current work on all facets of the paleo-climate of the last 2000 years (the Common Era), using high-resolution proxy records, data syntheses, statistical methods, novel reconstruction methods and paleoclimate model simulations. Contributions that combine more than one of the above areas or that focus on developing improved quantitative estimates of uncertainty are especially welcome. High-resolution proxy records can include tree-rings, ice cores and other annual laminations, sediment cores sampled at decadal- or multi-decadal resolution, etc. Early documentary records from early observers, shipping, trade, travel conditions, etc. are also included. Aims of this session will be the deepening our understanding of past climate of Canada and the northern US during the Common Era; and how climatic changes over this time period have impacted the environment and Indigenous and settler populations.  ​


S11) New Perspectives on the Use of Karst Basins for Paleoenvironmental Research: Implications for Paleoclimatology, Paleontology, and Archaeology


Co-chairs: Matthew Peros (Bishop’s University); Eduard G. Reinhardt (McMaster University); Anna Acosta G'meiner (Environmental Consultant, Toronto)


Karst basins—which are common in limestone-dominated regions and include sinkholes (“cenotes”) and blueholes—have been the focal point of human settlement for thousands of years (e.g., the Ancient Maya) and today provide the main source of freshwater for millions of people living in tropical regions. Recently, these systems have seen a resurgence of interest from the paleoenvironmental community as researchers have sought to better understand karst basin hydrology and sedimentation and its linkages to climate change and anthropogenic impacts. In addition, some sites have yielded among the oldest faunal and archaeological material in the Americas (e.g. Hoyo Negro), and karst basins in coastal regions are increasingly used for the generation of data on paleo-hurricanes and past environmental changes. The purpose of this session will be to highlight recent findings and advances in paleoenvironmental research in karst basins in order to better understand the potentials and limitations of these features for research in the Quaternary sciences. We welcome papers and posters focused on methodological issues, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, present-day monitoring, the modeling of karst basin hydrology and sedimentation, and recent archaeological or paleontological discoveries within these systems.


S12) Geohazard processes and impacts: Landslides, Floods, Earthquakes, Permafrost and others


Co-chairs: Andree Blais-Stevens (NRCan); Michael Parkhill (ERD - New Brunswick)


Geohazards resulting from landslides, floods, earthquakes, permafrost degradation, etc. can have damaging impacts on population and infrastructure.  Understanding processes as well as cascading effects of a geohazard into multiple geohazards and their impacts is essential in providing baseline information to stakeholders and decision-makers. The scope of the session is broad ranging from site-specific studies, inventories, monitoring, modelling, hazard assessments and/or risk assessments. We welcome researchers, practitioners, and students to present their findings.


S13) The Application of Quaternary Science to Societal Issues in the 21st Century


Co-Chairs: Rolfe D. Mandel (University of Kansas); Julio Betancourt (USGS); Ester Sztein (The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine)


Our session, organized and sponsored by the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for Quaternary Research-INQUA, will have speakers at the frontier of applied Quaternary science. The speakers will include both early-career and senior scientists. Since its inception in 1928, one of INQUA's basic goals has been to improve communication and international collaboration in all aspects of Quaternary research. Many of the environmental and societal challenges in our fast-changing world will require a repurposing and retooling of Quaternary science to solve a daunting list of real-world problems. This session follows the 24th Biennial AMQUA 2016 meeting with the theme “Retooling the Quaternary to Manage the Anthropocene.” Subsequently, we organized “A Call to Arms: Applying Quaternary Science in the 21st Century,” a session at the 2017 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.  Hence, this session is part of an ongoing USNC-INQUA effort to push the frontiers of applied Quaternary science and identify and articulate grand challenges for the discipline. Both AMQUA and the USNC-INQUA aim to continue building momentum towards a global “community of practice.” This session will address how profound environmental, technological, and societal trends, and their interactions pose formidable consequences, requiring a repurposing and retooling of applied Quaternary science, with applications spanning disciplines, nations, and existing and emerging problems. 


S15) Reflections on John Shaw's career and contributions to geoscience

Co-Chairs: Tracy Brennand, Peter Ashmore, Mandy Munro-Stasiuk, David Sharpe


John Shaw was an internationally renowned glacial geomorphologist and sedimentologist whose work on glacial landforms and sediments spanned ~50 years.  He died March 9, 2018.  This informal session will bring together several short reflections on John’s career, mentorship and contributions to geoscience by his students and colleagues.  Presentations will be mainly by invitation or request and no formal abstract submission will be required.  Contributions of thoughts, images, videos or other material related to working with John, examples of work and ideas that he inspired or supported, as well as personal reflections and stories, or other contributions, are welcome. If you would like to speak at the session, or send in contributions (e.g. video, narrated slide show) if you are unable to attend, please contact the convenors by May 7th with a brief outline of the reflection you would like to share and approximate time needed.  This will facilitate session organization and time allocation.