Quick update from EGU 2013
This is my first time attending an EGU (European Geosciences Union) meeting and it’s been great. It’s a rather short trip for the distance traveled — just three nights here in Vienna, Austria — but it has been worth it. The meeting reminds me of the annual AGU meeting held every December in San Francisco, although a bit smaller.
My main motivation for traveling all this way was to give an invited talk in a session convened by Alex Whittaker, Sebastien Castelltort, and Philip Allen called Tectonics, Sedimentation, and Surface Processes yesterday morning. Jon Tennant (@protohedgehog) of the EGU blog Green Tea and Velociraptors took this photo of me (above) beginning my talk.
This talk discussed some new research a close collaborator and good friend of mine is doing comparing crystallization age (U-Pb) and cooling age ([U-Th]/He) of detrital zircons from Magallanes foreland basin (southern Chile/Argentina) sedimentary rocks. Constraining the crystallization age and cooling age of a single zircon grain provides valuable information about the sediment source area, timing of exhumation (when that mineral grain became a sedimentary particle, roughly), and whether or not the grain experienced additional heating through burial.
For this session we used these new data to highlight the recycling of sediments over ~50 million years of fold-thrust belt and foreland basin evolution. The occurrence of recycling of material in such systems has been known for decades, but these newer geo-/thermochronologic techniques can be used to determine the timing/duration of these processes more accurately. For this talk, I discussed these new data within the context of reconstructing ancient sediment-routing (or, source-to-sink) systems. For example, how might recycling of older foreland basin deposits influence our ability to use general grain-size trends to better understand system morphology (e.g., Whittaker et al., 2011)? In the spirit of sharing new ideas and preliminary results I posed more questions than answers in the talk — with the hopes of initiating discussion. I got some great feedback from people throughout the day and ended up having numerous conversations with others doing similar work. This is the whole point of conferences and makes the trip worth it.
My other motivation for attending EGU was to interact with researchers whose work I’ve been following but had not actually met in person yet. It’s great to put faces to names and to get to know people beyond their published papers.