Project News

Annual meeting synopsis and photos

The main Annual Meeting of the IGCP 653, titled “Trekking Across the GOBE (Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event): From the Cambrian through the Katian”, was a great success.  The main meeting on the Ohio University campus, brought together a group of 60 scientists from eight nations.  Read the Ohio University writeup here.

26 participants joined the pre-conference excursion to visit classic late Cambrian to Mid Ordovician strata of the Great Basin, and 28 scientists participated in the post-conference excursion to Late Ordovician strata of the Cincinnati Arch.

Daily updates were posted on the IGCP 653 Facebook account during the meeting and are summarized below.  Many additional photos are posted on the Facebook page.

Pre-conference excursion (May 30-June 2)

The outstanding four day field trip was led by Bob Gaines, Seth Finnegan, and Sara Pruss, who led us through classic exposures of the House Range of Utah and Shingle Pass area of Nevada.

Day 1 of the IGCP 653 pre-conference field excursion: overview of Utah geology and travel to Delta for our staging area for the next two days plus cultural study.

Day 2 of the IGCP 653 field trip focused on visiting classic Cambrian sections in the House Range. Fantastic fossils and stratigraphy! Thanks so much to Bob Gaines for leading us through his favorite rocks.

The IGCP 653 excursion spent day 3 working our way from the Tremadoc to the Dariwillian. Fantastic brachiopods and sedimentary facies! We finished the day experiencing Nevada culture.

The final day of the IGCP pre-meeting excursion, we visited Sawmill Canyon and Shingle Pass to see the classic Cambrian and Ordovician strata exposes in the Egan Range.

Indoor sessions in Athens, Ohio (June 3-6) + midconference excursion

The Athens IGCP 653 meeting is underway! Day 1 featured talks and posters exploring various aspects of geochemical and biotic change with an emerging theme that the Dariwillian is a particularly exciting interval for coordinated Earth-life change.

Day 2 of the IGCP 653 annual meeting focused on biostratigraphy and Cincinnatian stratigraphy and paleontology—including some epic talks.

Today’s midconference field trip had something for everyone. In car narration, sequence stratigraphy, sedimentology, earthquakes, invasions, bourbon tasting, taphonomy, brachiopods, trilobites, echinoderms, bryozoa, and more brachiopods!

The final day in Athens included more discussion of paleontological patterns and chemostratigraphy.  Following the end of the formal session a group visited the Geology Department and OHIO Museum Complex on optional tours.  Then the conference concluded with a banquet at the Dairy Barn, a regional arts center, where participants dined surrounded by entries within an international quilt competition.

Post-conference excursion (June 9-10)

Carl Brett and his colleagues, Kyle Hartshorn, Allison Young, and Cameron Schwalbach led the participants through an impressive series of stratigraphy and outcrops spanning the Katian and depositional environments from offshore to tidal throughout northern Kentucky.

Day 1 of the post conference excursion was a case study in a classic Carl Brett expedition. Many fossils, much stratigraphy, lots of localities, and final departure from the outcrop at 8:26pm.

Day 2 of the post conference excursion focused on primarily in the stratigraphy and paleontology of the Mohawkian succession in Kentucky. Although the afternoon heated up to 90 degrees, it was a spectacular day.


New IGCP 668 on Equatorial Gondwanan History and Early Paleozoic Evolutionary Dynamics

From Dr. Nigel Hughes, Leader of IGCP 668:

Dear All:

I hope you don’t mind my bringing our new IGCP project to your attention, if you haven’t heard of it to date. It was recently awarded, and the website has just gone live.

IGCP 668: Equatorial Gondwanan History and Early Palaeozoic Evolutionary Dynamics

Scientific studies of ancient changes in Earth’s physical environment and biota demonstrate the relevance of Earth’s past for our planet’s future. An important ancient interval of transition occurred in the later Cambrian and early Ordovician, some 500 to 450 million years ago. It included change from repeated intervals of evolutionary “boom and bust” (rapid evolutionary radiation followed by dramatic collapse of diversity) in Cambrian shallow seas into a more stable and enduring biota in the Ordovician and thereafter. This change was linked to a late Cambrian peak and early Ordovician decline in global explosive volcanism that is recorded in particular detail in the equatorial Gondwanan terrane of Sibumasu: Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Baoshan, China. In these areas fossils are repeatedly interbedded with datable volcanic ashes. Global volcanism also resulted in rapid changes in atmospheric CO2, and in widespread marine anoxia. The relationship between such environmental stresses and faunal turnover has societal significance today, but our ability to learn from this instructive episode is hindered by our ability to determine the precise timing of these events and thus link cause and effect. The project will coordinate international effort to realize the research and educational potential of the Sibumasu record in its equatorial Gondwanan and global context.

We are presently planning a meeting in Thailand in December of this year. We hope that the project will endure for 5 years and that there will also be meetings in the USA, Myanmar, Japan, and China.

Details of the project are appearing on our new website, just live. If you haven’t yet done so, we would much like you to join our lsit of collaborators so that we can keep you posted of developments.

Many thanks, and looking forward to working together,

All good wishes,


Nigel Hughes

Dept. of Earth Sciences
University of California
CA 92521

phone: 951 827 3098
FAX:   951 827 4324


2019 Annual Meeting of IGCP 653 and 13th ISOS in Novosibirsk, Russia: July 2019

We are delighted to announce that 4th Annual Meeting of IGCP 653 will be held in conjunction with the Thirteenth International Symposium on the Ordovician System will be held from July 18th to July 23th, 2019 in Novosibirsk, Russia.

The second circular (note corrected dates) is now available for this meeting HERE.

The IGCP 653 co-chairs and 13th ISOS organizers look forward to welcoming you to Russia in 2019!

Morocco meeting: summary and photos

IGCP Project 653 had an outstanding workshop and field excursion in Marrakech and Zagora region of Morocco from February 12-16, 2018.

The workshop was an excellent introduction to Ordovician geology and paleontology with a particular focus on Moroccan deposits.  Dr. Khadija El Hariri and her associates at Cadi Ayyad University, Faculty of Sciences and Technics did an excellent job organizing the workshop, which was attended by 25 international participants plus 20+ local students.  We all enjoyed examining and discussing Fezouata and other specimens, engaging in fruitful discussions during the coffee breaks, and the final musical ceremony.  It was an honor to be joined by Mohommad “Ou Said” Ben Moula, the discoverer of the Fezouata Biota, as he received the Mary Anning Award from the Palaeontological Association.

A group of 28 international scientists followed the workshop with a field excursion to the Fezouata Formation that was expertly organized by Bertrand Lefebvre.  We crossed the High Atlas Moutains via the Tizi n’Tichka Pass then descended to the Ternata Plain.  En route to Zagora, we stopped for an  overview of the stratigraphy and structural geology of the Jbel Kissing and the Draa Valley.

A highlight of the trip was examining the Fezouata Formation at You Izargane, where participants were able to examine the late Tremadocian (A. murrayi zone) portion of the Fezouata replete with trilobites, incredibly well preserved graptolites, and the lagerstatte bearing layers.  In the afternoon, we visited Jbel Bou Zeroual (with directional assistance from a  local camel shepherd on a motorbike), the Floian section of the Fezouata Formation.  Here we collected many trilobites, echinoderms, and other typical Ordovician shelly fauna.

On the return drive to Marrekech, the group stopped to examine the spectacular Late Neoproterozoic stromatolites at Amane n’Tourhart.

Overall, the workshop and field excursion provided a tremendous opportunity to learn more about the transition from a Cambrian to Paleozoic world and expand our understanding of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.  The ability to connect and collaborate with a diverse group of scientists from more than 10 nations, truly enhanced the scientific understanding and progress of the event.

2018 Annual Meeting in Athens, Ohio, USA: Second Circular

The third annual meeting of IGCP 653: The Onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event will be hosted on the campus of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, June 3-7, 2018.

The scientific sessions in Athens include a mid-conference field trip to classic Cincinnatian (Katian) sections.  The indoor sessions preceded by an excursion to late Cambrian through Ordovician outcrops of the Great Basin and followed by an excursion through Katian stratigraphy and paleontology of Kentucky.  Participants will discuss and observe sedimentological, biological, and ecological changes across the GOBE and the resulting ecosystems.

We welcome contributions on all aspects of the late Cambrian through Ordovician earth system.

The Second Circular is now available and online registration is open.

Abstract and early registration deadlines are March 15th, 2018.  Space is limited on pre- and post-conference field excursions, so please let us know if you intend to participate on either of these but plan to register later in the registration process.

More information is available on the meeting website:

We look forward to welcoming you to Ohio.  GO BE in Ohio!

Alycia Stigall
on behalf of the organizing committee and Project 653 co-leaders

International Paleontological Congress 5: Abstracts due

Dear IGCP 653 community,

The conveners of the 5th International Palaeontological Congress, to be held from July 9th to 13th in Paris, France, warmly invite you to submit an abstract the the IGCP 653 sponsored scientific session: The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification (GOBE): fossils, radiations and Lagerstätten (S37).

Much more information is available on the conference website:

Abstract submission is closing in less than two weeks on on February 15th. 

We hope to see you in Paris,
T. Servais, D. Harper, B. Lefebvre, A. Hunter
(session conveners)

IGCP 653 @ Seattle GSA

Hello IGCP 653-ers,
We have a strong lineup of over 30 presentations in sessions sponsored by our project at the upcoming Geological Society of America meeting.  Please be sure to join us if you are attending the meeting in Seattle.
Our primary session “The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE): Testing hypotheses with diverse data sets” will convened by Alycia Stigall and Rebecca Freeman on Monday afternoon.
Please also join us Sunday afternoon for “Life and Times in the Early Paleozoic” convened by Erik Sperling, Stephen Leslie, and Matt Saltzman, Steve Leslie.  Information about that session is here:
We look forward to vibrant discussions and exciting new science in Seattle!
IGCP 653 co-organizers