MYRES 2012 — The Best Conference I’ve Ever Attended
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Meeting of Young Researchers in Earth Science (MYRES) 2012 meeting The Sedimentary Record of Landscape Dynamics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The three-day meeting/workshop had ~50 participants designed to bring multiple sub-disciplines under the umbrella of Earth surface processes together to discuss overarching scientific questions. For example, to what extent are the signals of tectonics and climate, which drive erosion (and sediment production), recorded in the down-system depositional segments? This systems view, also referred to as source-to-sink or ‘landscapes into rock’, has been talked about a lot over the past decade. I’ve been to a few meetings devoted to this topic and this was, by far, the best conference. Perhaps the approach is maturing, but there was a lot of great work (modeling, modern systems, ancient record) presented that is addressing the questions more directly. A website with a summary of the conference, including links to abstracts, talks, and posters, is being put together by the organizers and should be up this fall. I’ll make sure to post about it when it’s up.
The meeting concluded with a two-day field trip to nearby wave-cut terraces of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, the Thistle landslide deposit, and the Cretaceous to modern landscapes in the Book Cliffs and San Rafael Swell areas. I’m a big fan of attaching time in the field, even if it’s short, to meetings like this. I think it’s important to go out and view nature in all it’s complex glory after discussing insightful, yet simplified, models of landscape process-response. Plus, it gives the participants another venue to continue discussions that might lead to interesting collaborations.
If you’ve never heard of MYRES, you’re probably not alone. It is a true grass roots organization (i.e., there is no staff) of early career geoscientists. The organization is relatively new, the first conference was in 2004 and biannually since. If this sounds like an interesting format for the kind of work you do, you should contact those on the website about what it takes to get a conference planned. The organizers for the 2012 meeting worked very hard for several months planning and to obtain funding (from NSF and SEPM in this case). But the end result was amazing, kudos to the conveners for a great event.