CH-QUAT: Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Quartärforschung
The Swiss Society for Quaternary Research (CH-QUAT) is an interface for scientists and professionals from different research and applied fields dealing with the Quaternary period (the last 2.6 Ma of Earth History), focusing on human development, and on the environment and the climate. At our annual meetings and excursions, we offer a platform to promote an exchange of knowledge, ideas and contacts between students, scientists, professionals from governmental institutions, private companies and the greater public. Due to the global Pandemic, the annual meeting including the general assembly for 2020 was first postponed to late fall. Finally, the annual meeting per se was postponed to 2021 and the general assembly was held during the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting (hold online) where the CH-QUAT organized the session on Quaternary research. In the summer of 2020, we were able to hold a two-day excursion examining the oldest deposits of the Deckenschotter in the Thur valley and Aare valley. During the year, we financially supported students and early stage researchers (ESR) with our ‘Support for Young Scientists’ either for realizing their field work or to present their results at different conferences. We encouraged the supported Young Scientist to present their results at the CH-QUAT session at the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting.
The general assembly of CH-QUAT was held for the first time online on 23.11.2020 in combination with the Swiss Geoscience Meeting, due to COVID-19. The general assembly is typically accompanied by an annual meeting, but unfortunately due to restrictions it was cancelled and the planned program on Karst (From Cave Exploration to Science: the Karst Record) was postponed to 2021.
At the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2020, which was also held online on the 23rd-24th of November, CH-QUAT organized an open session with the topic ‘Quaternary Environments: landscapes, ecosystems, human activity during the past 2.6 million years’. A total of 8 talks were given and 12 posters were presented during the session.
Text: In 2020, five students were financially supported by CH-QUAT for their fieldwork and their active participation at different conferences or workshops. This year’s support was fully dedicated to female scientists, although we strive to provide support for both an equal and diverse group of participants. For more detail about their ongoing work, please consult our homepage (https://naturwissenschaften.ch/organisations/ch-quat/support/2020_).
CH-QUAT regularly informs its members about current events from other associations or projects relative to national and international Quaternary research. It also provides a platform for the electronic exchange of information and coordinates external requests. In addition, the current and future events are continuously uploaded to our homepage on the SCNAT- portal. CH-QUAT also maintains a twitter account (@ChQuat) to exchange information among the Quaternary community social media.
With our annual excursions, which are open to a broad public, we try to bring the Quaternary closer to the people. This year the field trip brought us to the Thur and Aare valleys to examine the oldest deposits of the Quaternary, Deckenschotter. The excursion was organized by Gaudenz Deplazes, NAGRA, and Catharina Dieleman, University Bern, with experts Marius Büchi, University Bern, Lukas Gegg, University Bern, and Reto Grischott, BTG Büro für Technische Geologie AG. The two-day excursion examined various outcrops and glacial overdeepenings. First the excursion began in Irchel, looking at various outcrops of the gravel blankets, the oldest Quaternrary deposits (Deckenschotter). In Kleinandelfingen, an overview of glacial overdeepenings reaching the Molasse were viewed. This opened a discussion about the geometry of the underground trough as well as the different glaciations, which can be seen in the stratigraphy. In Adlikon-Dätwil, drilling probes provided a glimpse into in quaternary drilling techniques. Day one ended with a walk along the Thur with a view of the upper marine Molasse.
The second day was spent in the lower Aare valley in the Mandach region. The topic of discussion was age determination for Deckenschotter deposits, in association with erosion and erosion rates in the early and middle Pleistocene. In Bruggerberg, a view of the confluence of the Aare, Reuss and Limmat were enjoyed. In the subsoil of the moated castle there is also a glacially overdeepened trough, which here was deepened into Mesozoic rocks. In its sediments, several glacial advances could be observed with the help of drill cores. Dating showed that the sediments of the overdeepened valleys are older than the last glacial maximum (ca. 20'000 years). At the end of the excursion we visited the Deckenschotter outcrop, Iberig. There we could observe, among other things, the contact between the Mesozoic limestones and the Deckenschotter, which were dated to about 1 million years by means of cosmogenic radionuclides. During these two days we got an overview of landscape development in the early and middle Pleistocene, sedimentology and stratigraphy in the lower Thur and Aare valleys, different dating methods, drilling techniques for Quaternary boreholes, application of geophysics to explore the bedrock surface, and glacial and fluvial erosion.
It was a successful, informative and exciting two-day excursion with 18 participants and it was very important for CH-QUAT that this excursion could be realized due to the cancellation of other activities in 2020.