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The Quaternary, the last 2.6 million years of geological time, saw major climatic changes which caused ice sheets to advance intotemperate latitudes. Repeated glacial episodes caused significant fluctuations in sea level, major geographical changes and major plant and animal population migrations. Sedimentary sequences record these changes in great detail and are central to unravelling past events.

Cambridge Quaternary is a semi-informal research group of approximately 60 people within the University of Cambridge . Its constituent research groups are based in the Departments of Geography , Plant Sciences , Earth Sciences , shadowsock如何使用 and Zoology . Links also exist with the Department of Physics and the Scott Polar Research Institute . There is an excellent research environment at all levels, fostered by the staff (10 members), post-doctoral workers, and both Ph.D. and M.Phil. students pursuing interdisciplinary research in a wide range of Quaternary fields. This environment is unique in Britain, offering opportunities for research student training unequalled elsewhere, in terms of the range and quality of the expertise available.


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This site contains information about who we are, the Institute's research and publications, together with details of M.Phil. and PhD courses organized within the Cambridge departments. Read about the history and role of Cambridge Quaternary in Cambridge.




Nick Scroxton (University College Dublin).

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Thursday 05 March 2023, 17:30-19:30


Thursday 6th February 2023, 5.30pm - Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles (University of Cambridge/BAS)
Abrupt CO2 release to the atmosphere under glacial and early interglacial climate conditions
Venue: Clare College (Latimer Room)


Thursday 23rd January 2023, QDG is a double bill about synchronising
climate archives, with Russell Drysdale and Raimund Muscheler (titles
below). Venue: Riley Auditorium and Garden Room (Clare
College Memorial Court entrance) starting at 5.30, and ending at about 7 pm.

Titles are:
Russell Drysdale (University of Melbourne): Speleothem records of abrupt
warming events during the last glacial period

Raimund Muscheler (Lund University): Synchronising climate records via
the cosmic ray signal in environmental archives

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Thursday 28 November 2023, 17:30-19:30 Evading problems of IRD in palaeocurrent estimation: Glacial to Recent changes in flows around Greenland

Prof Nick McCave, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge


Thursday 21 November 2023, 17:30-19:30

Beyond mean climate change: Using paleoclimate archives to better constrain climate variability.

Thomas Laepple, Alfred Wegener Institute. Clare College (Latimer Room).


Thursday 14 Nov 2023

Professor Paula Reimer, from Queens University Belfast, will be giving a seminar on: The IntCal20 radiocarbon calibration curve - composition and consequences

This week we are back in the Riley Auditorium, in Clare College Memorial Court (across Queens Road).

The seminar will begin at 17:30 and will be followed by an extended open discussion.


Antarctic climate of the last 115,000 years from ice cores
Isobel Rowell
Thursday 07 November 2023, 13:10-14:00
The Richard King Room, Darwin College.


Thursday 31 October 2023 5.30pm - 7.00pm, Clare College (Latimer Room) shadowdersocks下载, Desert Research Institute, current "Shackleton visiting fellow" at Clare Hall will speak on:

"Aerosols and Ancient History in Arctic and Alpine Ice"


Thursday, 24th October, at 5:30 pm (Latimer Room, Clare College) Cameron Petrie (Department of Archaeology, Cambridge) will speak on:

Does climate change really cause collapse? Insights from the Land, Water and Settlement and TwoRains shadowsock如何使用

Thursday November 1 2018 a QDG seminar, in Magdalene College (Cripps Court, seminar room 3), was given by Dr. Mario Krapp, from the
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.

Title: A comprehensive climate history of the last 800,000 years and its
application to ecological modelling

Understanding ecosystems and their evolution through the climate of the Pleistocene ice ages requires detailed palaeo-climate reconstructions. Global climate models (GCM) are frequently used to explore the many
diverse aspect of past climates.

However, due to their high computational demand a continuous and spatially detailed exploration of the past remains elusive. In this talk, I will present a GCM emulator, which is based on climate snapshot simulations of the last 120ka, that allows us to reconstruct the climate of the last 800,000 years (and beyond) in a quasi-continuous way.

I will show how the predictive skill of the GCM emulator can be tested against existing Pleistocene climate proxies and I will present a few highlights of how such an emulator can
be used for ecological modelling, for example, the dispersal of anatomically modern humans out of Africa.

After this one (Nov 1) , the next Cambridge Quaternary talk will be: Global Estimates of Marine Nitrogen Fixation based on a Non-Redfield Inverse Model

Prof. Francois Primeau (University of California Irvine, USA). Latimer Room, Clare College. Thursday 22 November 2018, 17:30-18:30

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Sedgwick 200 event: Talks on the future of geology will be held at the Department of Earth Sciences throughout the day on Saturday 22 September 2018. Although it is no longer possible to book events around the talks, attendance at the talks themselves is open.

Professor Philip Gibbard's retirement symposium on 10 September 2018 was a great success, with almost 100 people attending from a wide range of countries. Best wishes for a succesful and happy retirement to Professor Gibbard. Phil formally retired from the University of Cambridge's Department of Geography on 30 September 2017, but continues to work at the University where he has been appointed as an Emeritus Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute and as a Senior Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research


We are sad to announce the death on 26 June 2018 of the eminent Dutch palynologist and stratigrapher Professor Waldo Zagwijn. Details are available here.


It has been announced that the proposals for the subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch (11 700 years ago to the present day) into three stages/ages and their corresponding subseries/subepochs by the International Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (ISQS) (a subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy – ICS) have been ratified unanimously by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). The subdivisions now formally defined are: 1. Greenlandian Stage/Age = Lower/Early Holocene Subseries/Subepoch. Boundary Stratotype (GSSP): NorthGRIP2 ice core, Greenland (coincident with the Holocene Series/Epoch GSSP, ratified 2008). Age: 11,700 yr b2k (before AD 2000). 2. Northgrippian Stage/Age = Middle/Mid-Holocene Subseries/Subepoch. Boundary Stratotype (GSSP): NorthGRIP1 ice core, Greenland. Global Auxiliary Stratotype: Gruta do Padre Cave speleothem, Brazil. Age: 8326 yr b2k. 3. Meghalayan Stage/Age = Upper/Late Holocene Subseries/Subepoch. Boundary stratotype (GSSP): Mawmluh Cave speleothem, Meghalaya, India. Global Auxiliary Stratotype, Mount Logan ice core, Canada. Age: 4250 yr b2k. Further details.



The process by which the Dover Strait was breached is confirmed by new research.


New evidence from the floor of the Dover Strait helps paint a picture of how the island has repeatedly separated from and rejoined the European continent. Published on 7 June 2017 the ishadow website by Phil Gibbard.



A neck vertebra, thought to come from the now extinct Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis, has been exposed after storms on the beach at West Runton. It is from the Cromerian interglacial Stage deposits. Read report here.

New Professor of Quaternary research appointed

It isa great pleasure to announce that the QPG welcomes Christine Lane, who joined the Department of Geography and the QPG on 1 October 2016, as a Professor of Geography. Christine is a tephrochronologist who works on late Quaternary palaeoclimate records from Europe and East Africa.

Anthropocene: The journey to a new geological epoch

The impact of our species is so severe and so enduring that the current geological time period could soon be declared the 'Anthropocene'. A new series of articles by journalist Sophie Yeo of CarbonBrief, published 5/10/16.


Published by Suffolk Naturalists' Society, Ipswich, 2015. This is another masterly piece of work from Richard West describing the processes and sequence of events that combine to make the landscape of chalkland between Swaffham and Shouldham so interesting.

"Anthropocene pinned to post-war period" - comment in Science 26 August 2016.

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The sad news has arrived on the 19th April 2016 of the death of shadowsock如何使用, Professor of Ocean Geochemistry and Palaeochemistry at the Department of Earth Sciences. Harry's intrepid determination to pursue a detailed understanding of changes in ocean chemistry in relation to volcanism and climate led to his winning many awards, including the Goldschmidt award and Lyell and Urey medals, and to achieving very significant progress in the understanding of the behaviour of the oceans. His gentle manner and quiet resolve made him and excellent teacher and leader of an outstanding research group. He will be greatly missed as a scientist, a gentleman, and a friend. Tributes to Harry Elderfield.


Environmental Damage Is Bad Enough To Create A New Geologic Period by Alejandro Davila Fragoso 7 January, 2016. Climate Progress.

Human impact has pushed Earth into the Anthropocene, scientists say. 8 January, 2016. The Guardian.

'Case is made' for Anthropocene Epoch. by Jonathan Amos Science correspondent BBC News, 8 January, 2016.

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Helen Gordon asks whether humanity's impact on its environment so huge that the planet has entered a new geological era: the Anthropocene? The idea is gaining ground – and dividing scientists.


shadowdersocksr安卓下载 book provides a look at the climatic history of the last 2.6 million years during the ice age, a time of extreme climatic fluctuations that have not yet ended. The book focuses on the changing state of these glaciers and the effects of associated climate changes on a wide variety of environments (including mountains, rivers, deserts, oceans and seas) and also plants and animals. For example, at times the Sahara was green and colonized by humans, and Lake Chad covered 350,000 km2 larger than the United Kingdom. What happened during the ice age can only be reconstructed from the traces that are left in the ground. The work of the geoscientist is similar to that of a detective who has to reconstruct the sequence of events from circumstantial evidence. The book is published on 27 November 2015.

Phil Gibbard appointed ICS Secretary-General 2016-2023

Phil Gibbard has been appointed the Secretary-General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy 2016-20. The new ICS executive will be installed at the 35th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in summer 2016.


Anthropocene: a new geological epoch? Ian Sample (Guardian 16.10.14).

'Reading the Anthropocene'


Phil Gibbard will participate in an open-panel discussion entitled 'Reading the Anthropocene' on 30.10.14 in the Festival of Ideas in the University's Department of English.

The history of the Subdepartment of Quaternary Research 1948-1994 - by Richard West

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Scientists mull a new epoch defined by mankind's dominance of the planet.


Professor Phil Gibbard has been awarded the prestigious André Dumont Medal by shadowdersocksr安卓下载, the Belgian national geological society. The medal was presented to Phil at the society's 2014 meeting in Ghent on 1 April 2014 by the President, Professor Sara Vandycke.



Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist began popularising the idea of the Anthropocene in 2001, citing evidence such as humanity's alterations of biodiversity and our changing of the climate through the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Scientists agree that evidence of these and other global changes will leave a lasting impression in the geological record. However, the Anthropocene is not recognised by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), the body which safeguards the geological time scale. Jan Zalasiewicz's efforts may change that—his ICS working group wishes to formalise the Anthropocene time division.

Other geologists argue that the Anthropocene may not be suitable for the geological timescale at all. One critic, Philip Gibbard, a member of the ICS working group, says the time in which we now live should be called the Late Holocene, because it is consistent with this most recent official Epoch. "For the Anthropocene to merit formal definition, a global signature distinct from that of the Holocene is required that is marked by novel biotic, sedimentary and geochemical change," Gibbard wrote in a paper published last year. (article by Billings, in Nautilus 2014).

A new version of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart!

The International Commission on Stratigraphy's (ICS) Chronostratigraphic Chart has been adapted for Shell's headquarters in Den Haag, The Netherlands. Originally published in English the chart is now available in French, Chinese, Norwegian, Basque and Spanish language versions. For more views click on image.

Phil Gibbard on Science Live webchat

Phil on Science webchat on 19.04.13. Phil joined Bruce Smith from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, USA, for a Science Live web chat discussion entitled 'Archaeologists say that the 'Anthropocene' is here - but it began long ago. The discussion can be viewed on the Science website and YouTube.

QPG joins GSI3D as a Consortium Member

7.12.12 - GSI3D (Geological surveying and investigation in three dimensions) is a methodology and associated software tool for 3D geological modelling which enables quick and intuitive construction of 3D solid models of the subsurface for a wide range of applications. The methodology and software has been developed jointly by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and INSIGHT GmbH and is being applied by the BGS, where it is the modelling tool of choice. It is now available on general release as part of the not–for–profit shadowdersocksr安卓下载. The QPG was invited to join the consortium as a full member to assist with the evaluation and development of the three-dimensional mapping of superficial deposits in the British Isles and beyond.

International Chronostratigraphic Charts published

The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) published a new Chronostratigraphic Chart in July 2012 at the International Geological Conference. The chart was designed and produced by ishadow, K. Cohen and P.Gibbard. It was originally published in English but will shortly be available in French and Spanish language versions (January 2013). Other language versions may be published in future.

The Geologic Time Scale 2012

Published 11.10.12 - The Geologic Time Scale 2012 - edited by F.Gradstein, J.Ogg, M.Schmitz & G.Ogg. Elsevier: Amsterdam. Chapter 30, The Quaternary Period by B.Pillans & P.Gibbard (980-1009).

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Charles Turner awarded the Albrecht Penck Medal 2012

Charles Turner has been awarded the highly prestigious Albrecht Penck Medal by the Deutsche Quartärvereinigung (DEUQUA) at their 36. Hauptversammlung in Bayreuth in September 2012 to mark his contribution to Quaternary research.


Our own Chris Jeans will be awarded the Collins Medal for 2013 by the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He was already made an Honorary Fellow of the Society in 2011.

'The Collins Medal will be awarded annually to a scientist who, during a long and active career, has made an outstanding contribution to pure or applied aspects of Mineral Sciences and associated studies. Publications, teaching, outreach and other activities leading to the promotion of mineral sciences, in the broadest sense, will be taken into account in making the award. Nominees do not have to be Members of the Mineralogical Society or nationals of Great Britain and Ireland.'


The longest serving member of the Cambridge Quaternary group (previously the Subdepartment of Quaternary Research and the Godwin Institute of Quaternary Research) will be retiring from his position in the Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research in the Department of Earth Sciences at the end of March 2012. Mike has worked in the University since 1963 and in the field of climate research since 1969, with Nick Shackleton until his death in 2006, then more recently with David Hodell - a total of 48 years.

mike hall

John Hutchinson

Old friend of the Cambridge Quaternary community, Professor John Hutchinson died very peacefully on Thursday 22 December.

Russell Coope

We are very sad to announce the untimely death of our longstanding colleague and friend G.Russell Coope. He died at home on Saturday 26 November 2011 of a heart attack.

Richard Hey

  • It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our friend and colleague, the geologist Dr Richard William Hey. He died on Monday 14 November 2011 aged 94 in Ross-on-Wye. He will be greatly missed. Richard was a founding Fellow of Churchill College


  • Clive Oppenheimer publishes his new book entitled Eruptions That Shook The World and published by Cambridge University Press.
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  • Exciting new find of the first Late Early Pleistocene human occupation and interglacial environment in the Cromer Forest-bed Formation at Happisburgh, in NW Norfolk, England, including work by Dr Richard Preece (Zoology Museum) and Dr Sylvia Peglar (associate member of the QPG). Reported in shadowsock如何使用. Further details available on the British Museum's dedicated website.

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  • Ash from the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland, which fell in Northern Ireland; a shard photographed by Professor Valerie Hall who is currently visiting the QPG.
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  • New Earth Epoch Has Begun, Scientists Say - article on National about the Anthropocene published 6.4.10.

  • The British Royal Mail Post Office stamps celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society includes a design with the image of Nick Shackleton.

  • Formal ratification letter of base Quaternary and Pleistocene at 2.6 ma. Read Wiley-Blackwell news release.

  • 'Quaternary geologists win timescale vote - redefinition rescues once-threatened terminology from extinction' - read report in NATURE 4.5.09 and on Dept of Geography website.

  • The ICS vote to confirm the base of the Quaternary / Pleistocene at 2.6 Ma. shadowdersocks下载.

  • Now published - From Brandon to Bungay by Richard G. West (associate member of the QPG), an exploration of the landscape history and geology of the Little Ouse and Waveney rivers on the Suffolk - Norfolk border of East Anglia. Available from Suffolk Naturalist's Trust, Ipswich.
  • Are we now living in the Anthropocene? - coming soon, the opinion of the Geological Society's Stratigraphy Commission. Watch GSA Today.
  • Global chronostratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 million years . Compiled by P.L.Gibbard, S.Boreham, K.M.Cohen & A.Moscariello, published for the International Commission on Stratigraphy's Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. New version now available.
  • The Sir Nicholas Shackleton Fellowship Fund.
  • Quaternary Discussion Group meetings
  • Gallery of Quaternary photographs
  • News from the Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group
  • A history of Quaternary Research in Cambridge
  • Cambridge reference collections



onegeol - making geological data accessible.

Local users

  • Cambridge Quaternary logotypes
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