Geologist Attends Quaternary Geology Field Course in Argentina

Participants of Field Course of the Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology  of Tierra del Fuego.An ISGS geologist attended the IV Field Course on the Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology of Tierra del Fuego, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina from November 12 to 24, 2006. Thirty-six participants attended the field course, which included emeritus faculty, senior scientists, and graduate students from English-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of North America, South America and Europe. The course was sponsored by the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG), CADIC-CONICET (Regional Center of the National Research Council of Argentina at Ushuaia), Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia en Ushuaia, Bariloche Foundation, Nehuén Foundation (Neuquén, Patagonia), Argentine Geological Association, Sociedad Argentina de Antropología (SAA), and other institutions. The objective of the course was to introduce the participants to the geology, geomorphology, biology, and human occupation of southernmost South America. The course involved participation in field and laboratory activities that were offered simultaneously in Spanish and English.

Sites visited on the field course traversed the whole of the island from San Sabastián Bay southward to the Beagle Channel. The island is composed of late Paleozoic to Tertiary bedrock that has subsequently been modified by the actions of water, ice, wind, and crustal deformation. Over the last 1.4 million years, this landscape has been exposed to at least five glacial advances and intervening interglacial periods that developed the landforms present today. Deposits of the pre-Illinois, Illinois, and Wisconsin Episode glaciations and their associated interglacial observed in Tierra del Fuego have a similar character, structure, and morphology to time-equivalent sediments in Illinois. Although Illinois and southern Argentina are hemispheres apart, geological processes during the Quaternary that produced significant climate change can be measured on a global scale.

The opportunity to attend the field course was offered during Dr. Jorge Rabassa's visit to the Illinois State Geological Survey during spring 2006 as an UI International Council Visiting Professor. During Dr. Rabassa's professorship, collaborative research opportunities were identified to study similar geologic materials and processes found in both Argentina and the Midwest. Isotopic characterization and radiocarbon analyses are areas of expertise that the ISGS could provide colleagues at the Argentina National Research Council to better define paleoenviroment conditions in southernmost South America.