Earth System Processes 2: An updated look at how the Earth works


Boulder, Colo.-Geoscientists, biologists, physicists, and others from around the globe will gather in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in August to explore new developments in Earth system processes. Co-convened by the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the Geological Association of Canada (GAC), "Earth System Processes 2" will take place 8-11 August at the Westin Hotel in Calgary. Support for the meeting is provided by NASA's Astrobiology Institute and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, with participation by the European Geosciences Union.

The meeting addresses the highly interconnected, complex web of feedbacks among solid Earth, the oceans, atmosphere, and biota. Sessions will illuminate how feedbacks in the modern world emerged and evolved over time, as well as their likely response to human influences in the future. Plenary sessions, field trips, and special events are also included.

"ESP2" follows the groundbreaking Earth System Processes meeting held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2001. That meeting was co-convened by GSA and the Geological Society of London.

Technical program highlights, field trip information, and media registration procedures follow:

I. Technical Program Highlights


Plenary Session: **Biominerals, Skeletons, and Rocks through Time.**
8:00-9:00 a.m., Britannia/Belaire Room
Stefan Bengtson, Senior Curator and Chair, Department of Palaeozoology, Swedish Museum of Natural History. Bengtson is well known for his studies of early animal evolution. He is recipient of the Walcott Medal, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

**The Search for Archean Life on Earth and Beyond**
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Eau Claire North/South
Recent studies documenting evidence for Archean life on Earth have expanded our understanding of the diverse environments in which Archean life may have existed. Some of this work has been fueled by the search for life elsewhere in the universe. This session integrates disciplines of biology, geology, geochemistry, and geophysics, and includes a keynote by Bruce Runnegar, Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute, and Professor, UCLA Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. View abstracts:

**Coupled Evolution of Plants, Climate, and Carbon Dioxide over the Phanerozoic**
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Bonavista
This session emphasizes the latest paleobotanical and paleophysiological research, focusing on the effect of CO2 on plants and their role in promoting geochemical processes and setting up feedbacks. An invited talk by Jennifer McElwain, Department of Geology, The Field Museum, addresses the impact on vegetation of large increases in atmospheric CO2 across the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction boundary, the third largest extinction event in Earth's history. She demonstrates how the fossil record can help identify past thresholds of change and major ecosystem reorganization, possibly helping us understand the future.
View abstracts:


Plenary Session: **Instability of the Ice Age Ice Sheets: Forcing or Response of Millennial Climate Variability?**
8:00-9:00 a.m., Britannia/Belaire Room
Shawn Marshall, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, University of Calgary. Marshall, an expert in ice sheet physics and paleoclimatology, researches glaciers around the globe. He is a Scholar of the Canadian Institute of Applied Research and recipient of the Canadian Geophysical Union's Young Science award.

**The First 800 Million Years-The Initial Earth System**
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Eau Claire North/South
Modeling and observations of primitive Earth and solar system materials are the foundation of this session. Topics of discussion include traces of the late heavy bombardment, lunar impact melt rocks and late accretion, and tidal effects of the moon.
View abstracts:

** Paleogene Biota and Climates of Western North America: Atmospheric, Biological, and Geological Processes on a Warm World**
1:30-4:30 p.m., Lakeview Endrooms
Biologists, geographers, and paleobotanists explore the flora, fauna, paleogeography, and paleoclimate of cool-climate Eocene highlands in the Pacific Northwest to the adjacent coastal warm-climate lowlands and interior.
View abstracts:


Plenary Session: **Linking Modern Anaerobic Microbial Processes to the Archean Rock Record**
8:00-9:00 a.m., Britannia/Belaire Room
Dianne Newman, Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Geobiology and Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology. Newman is a leader in the application of techniques from molecular biology to geologic problems.

**The Future of Solar System Exploration**
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Eau Claire North/South
This session presents an integrated view of the future of robotic and human exploration of the solar system. Topics include expectations regarding life elsewhere, the future of Mars astrobiology, geological exploration of the Jupiter system, field geology training for astronauts, and studying first light and the cosmic dark ages.
View abstracts: v

**Marine Anoxia over Geologic Time-Where, When, Why, and Cause and Effect Relationships to the Evolving Biosphere**
Sessions I and II, Wednesday, 9 August, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Mayfair
(Session III, Thursday, 11 August, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Mayfair)
These sessions represent a comprehensive examination of marine anoxia on local and ocean scales and the mechanisms by which such environments become anoxic. Specific topics include dynamics and effects of land-ocean interaction during periods of extreme warmth, impacts of sea level rise, global anoxia, and mass extinction.
View abstracts:


Plenary Session: **Recent Past and Future Feedbacks in the Climate-C-N-P Earth System**
8:00-9:00 a.m., Britannia/Belaire Room
Fred Mackenzie, Professor of Oceanography, University of Hawaii. Mackenzie will draw upon his considerable experience studying modern and ancient biogeochemical cycles to describe the ways in which the Earth system likely will respond to human acceleration of nutrient cycles.

**The Last Great Global Warming: Proxy Reconstructions and Modeling the Pliocene Climate** What can this period of global warming three million years ago tells us about future global climate change? Dynamics of deep ocean temperature, higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2, periods of warming, and periods of cooling will be explored.
View abstracts:

**Biosphere-Atmosphere Feedbacks in the 20th-21st Centuries: Modeling Uncertainties and Key Approaches**
New developments in interdisciplinary modeling will be shared in this session. Talks will include: latest results from Hadley Center (U.K.) climate models and future modeling plans; measuring an ecosystem's capacity for increased soil carbon storage in response to increased levels of CO2; and reaction of several plant types to changes in North Atlantic thermohaline circulation.
View abstracts:

Other sessions of interest include:
**Ice Age Dynamics and Climate**
Monday, 8 August, 1:30-4:00 p.m., Lakeview Endrooms View abstracts:

**Methane as a Climate Driver Throughout Earth History**
Monday, 8 August, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Eau Claire North/South
View abstracts:

**Oxygen and Evolution on Early Earth (I and II)** Tuesday, 9 August, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Mayfair
View abstracts:

**Large Igneous Provinces: Their Biotic, Climatic, and Oceanic Impact**
Wednesday, 10 August, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Lakeview Endrooms
View abstracts:

**Microbial Ecology and Geobiology**
Co-sponsored by the GSA Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Division and the AGU Biogeosciences Section
Wednesday, 10 August, 1:30-4:00 p.m., Eau Claire North/South
View abstracts:

To view the entire technical program, visit

II. Field Trips

ESP2 offers one- to four-day field trips in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. Destinations include the Athabasca Glacier and thermal springs of Banff Park. View field trips:

III. Media Participation

Onsite Newsroom facilities will be available at the meeting. Qualified media are invited to attend and registration is complimentary.

Eligibility for media registration is as follows, all of whom have equal access:

  • Working press representing bona fide, recognized news media with a press card, letter, or business card from the publication.
  • Freelance science writers, presenting a current membership card from NASW, ISWA, regional affiliates of NASW, CSWA, or evidence of work pertaining to science published in 2004 or 2005.
  • Public Information Officers (PIOs) of scientific societies, educational institutions and government agencies.

Journalists and PIOs must pay for field trips in which they wish to participate.

Representatives of the business side of news media, publishing houses, and for-profit corporations must register at the main registration desk and pay the appropriate fees.

To register, download a media registration pdf at and fax the completed form to Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, at +1-303-357-1074. Additional information on eligibility and housing is also available via this link. Pre-registration is open through Monday, 1 August. Onsite registration begins Sunday, 7 August. Questions may be directed to Ann Cairns at +1-303-357-1056 or [email protected].

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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