International Summer School comes to north-west Wales
Postgraduate students and early-career researchers from all corners of the globe will come to north-west Wales to learn about the geological history of our region as part of the IAS International Summer School of Sedimentology programme.
This programme is funded by the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS) and aims to give participants the opportunity to collaborate, network and work with expert lecturers on new and exciting topics in sedimentary geology. Previous Summer Schools were held in Switzerland, Argentina, China, and Bahamas. Spain and Bonaire are next in line before the Summer School lands in Wales in 2025. Entitled NW Wales: 800 Million Years of Earth History in 800 km2, the Summer School will be organised by Dr Jaco H. Baas (School of Ocean Sciences), Dr Dei Huws (School of Ocean Sciences, GeoMôn UNESCO Global Geopark), Dr Megan Baker (Durham University), Dr Stephen Lokier (University of Derby) and Dr Lynda Yorke (School of Natural Sciences).
The programme will cover 800 million years of geological history of Ynys Môn, Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri, and the Ceredigion coast in seven days of intensive fieldwork, with special reference to the role of geology in the energy transition from a hydrocarbon-led to carbon-neutral world. The unique selling point of the NW Wales Summer School is the wide variety of sedimentary rocks, easily accessible in only 800 km2. The participants will study various river, marine, oceanic, reef, glacial and hydrothermal vent deposits. The common thread is a ‘ride along’ with the Welsh part of the ancient Avalonia landmass on its plate tectonic journey from the southern hemisphere across the equator to its present position in the northern hemisphere – a trip through tropical, arid, temperate and polar climate zones.
“The Summer School is an excellent opportunity to showcase the amazing geology of NW Wales. This includes the Precambrian (about 1000 to 540 million years ago), when our modern atmosphere and ocean developed, and early life evolved; the Cambrian (about 500 million years ago), when Wales was part of an tectonically active region with volcanoes and regular earthquakes, similar to present-day Japan; the Devonian (about 400 million years ago), when Wales was a Sahara-type desert; and the Carboniferous (about 300 million years ago), when coral reefs flourished in our region”, explains lead organiser Dr Baas of the School of Ocean Sciences.
Dr Baas is grateful for the generous funding received from the IAS: “This allows us to sponsor those foreign postgraduate students and early-career researchers who normally do not get a chance to travel abroad for geological fieldwork and have access to modern data collection methods, like drones and 3D laser scanners”. He adds: “We are excited to show the participants that England and Wales’ oldest stromatolite fossils, stony structures built by colonies of cyanobacteria, are present on Ynys Môn, and that the formative years of Charles Darwin as a geologist, before he acquired fame as a biologist, were in Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri”.