IGCP 490

Aims and objectives


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ICSU Dark Nature

last updated
November 2007

The International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP) is a joint endeavour of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) and IUGS (International Union of Geological Sciences). It was launched in 1972 to facilitate cooperation among geoscientists across frontiers and boundaries. Its objective is to bring scientists from all over the world together and enhance interaction, particularly between North and South, through joint research work, meetings and workshops. IGCP is interdisciplinary. It covers the different fields in earth sciences and is linked with other UNESCO scientific programmes. It maintains active interfaces with displines such as water, ecological, marine, atmospheric and biological sciences. IGCP operates in about 150 countries and involves several thousands of scientists.

IGCP 490 Mauritania meeting 2004

This project (IGCP 490) focuses on the inter-disciplinary investigation of Holocene geological catastrophes, which are of importance for civilizations and ecosystems. Presently, there is no nationally or internationally equivalent group dealing with this topic. Joining the efforts of the several international organizations such as IUGS, INQUA, UNESCO, and IGBP will create a new synergy. The project is concerned with environmental events since the beginning of the Holocene (the last 11,500 calendar years) excluding therefore the influence of the glacial-interglacial cycles. Three time scales will be considered: (1) the Holocene when major natural hazards are mostly known from sedimentary records; (2) the last 5-4000 years for which we have written documents; (3) the last couple of centuries with instrumental records. Importantly, the project will examine how quickly ecosystems and civilisations are able to recover from catastrophic events. With the growing recognition that major natural events can have abrupt global impacts, this project is a timely opportunity to assess the sensitivity of modern society to extreme natural threats. The project will involve the geoscience community, but also biologists, archaeologists, historians, meteorologists and astrophysicists.

Coordinator Prof. Suzanne Leroy (Institute for the Environment, Brunel University, UK)


IGCP supported a series of meetings over a period of 5 years: 2003-2007.


Report from INQUA field trip to Java, Indonesia

IGCP 490 had a special session at the INQUA Congress (list of papers). There was also had a fieldtrip in Java with some additional presentations in the evenings (abstracts)


IGCP met in Louisiana, USA, September 25-27 2006 for a joint workshop with PAGES on the past record of ancient hurricanes; and in Aswan, Egypt in 2007.

A session on "Archaeological and Geoarchaeological Records of Natural and Human-Induced Disasters" was held at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting, Philadelphia, USA during October 22-25, 2006.


International Conference on Rapid Sea Level Change - a Caspian Perspective May 2-9, 2005 Rasht, Islamic Republic of Iran: http://www.caspiansealevelchange.org. The abstracts of the conference can be consulted at the website. The conference was very successful and has been excellently organised by our Iranian hosts at Guilan University, the Iranian National Centre of Oceanography, Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, and the Geological Survey of Iran. A Special Issue of Quaternary International with the proceedings of the conference is now in preparation [photographs].

See also the Dark Nature site for for news of joint meetings.


At the International Geological Congress, Florence, August 20-28 2004 two sessions directly related to environmental catastrophes took place

- topical symposium T16.04: Geoarchaeology for climatic changes and catastrophic events in human history. Cremaschi M. and Leroy S. A. G.

- a general symposium G03.12: Rapid and catastrophic geological changes and societal response. Berger A. R. and Leroy S. A. G. (August 23)

See also the Dark Nature site for for news of joint meetings.


Mauritania [meeting report]

Publications related to IGCP 490

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