IGCP Project


General aims of the project

The Palaeoproterozoic Era (2500–1600 million years ago) was a period of profound global change in the Earth system, reflected in the breakup and formation of two supercontinental landmasses.  This project seeks to understand the nature of this transitional period of our planet’s history in relation to underlying geodynamic controls, specifics of continental palaeogeography and tectono-stratigraphy, and implications for environmental conditions surrounding the diversification of microbial life.

Objectives and measurable outputs

Such a goal requires international multidisciplinary co-operation amongst specialists in Palaeoproterozoic regional geology and geological processes. The objectives of this project are to encourage and facilitate scientific collaboration, develop a greater understanding of the Earth and its evolution, and foster the dissemination of knowledge about this important geological era amongst the wider geological community. Co-operation will be encouraged by regular field meetings in different countries, providing specialists in laboratory, field and theoretical methods with a common ground to discuss ideas. The framework for discussion includes regional and topical focus areas which will provide the input data for three principal measurable outputs: 1) GIS database; 2) global rock correlation charts; and 3) valid palaeogeographic maps for the Palaeoproterozoic Era. A fourth important output is the scientific publication of numerous thematic journal volumes and field guidebooks.

Geoscience in the service of society

The above outputs will provide a spatial and temporal summary of Earth’s Palaeoproterozoic rock record and global evolution that will be available to the international geological community. Such data are likely to have profound implications for many areas of the Earth sciences and may directly affect our understanding of, for example, the birth of plate tectonics, the tectonic settings of ore deposits, and the oxygenation of the atmosphere.

The proposed project draws momentum from the recent IGCP Project 440 “Assembly and Breakup of Rodinia”, which provides a fundamental starting point for the reconstruction of older supercontinent configurations. In addition, there are connections with existing projects 474 (Depth Images of the Earth’s Crust), 485 (The Boundaries of the West African Craton), and 493 (The Rise and Fall of the Vendian Biota) and recently completed Projects 426 (Granite Systems and Proterozoic Lithospheric Processes), and 453 (Modern and Ancient Orogens).

Our proposal announcement has already elicited responses from over 130 scientists among numerous geological disciplines in more than twenty countries.  Our field excursions will visit the geologically most important Palaeoproterozoic regions in Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.  We will coordinate these activities with workshops and symposia at related conferences, bringing together a vibrant international group of researchers from academia, governments, and industry.

Download the project proposal