Project News

IGCP 653 Annual Meeting/13th ISOS synopsis

Over 70 participants from some 15 countries gathered in Novosibirsk for the 13thInternational Symposium on the Ordovician System and the 3rd annual meeting of IGCP 653 ‘The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event’. Learn more in this meeting summary.

Over 70 participants from some 15 countries gathered in Novosibirsk for the 13thInternational Symposium on the Ordovician System and the 3rd annual meeting of IGCP 653 ‘The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event’. It is 140 years since Charles Lapworth established the Ordovician arising out of the conflict between Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison and their respective Cambrian and Silurian systems, and 45 years since the first Ordovician Symposium in Birmingham under the auspices of Sir Alwyn Williams.  The former established the preliminary boundaries of the Ordovician in England and Wales while the latter set in train, inadvertently, the global series and stages we use today. 

During almost a full working week some 55 oral and 30 poster presentations educated, informed and at times entertained an audience that included some 40 foreign and 30 domestic researchers; the latter represented 12 research institutions, geological surveys and universities from across the Russian Federation.  Delegates had the opportunity to visit three museums: Central Siberian Geological Museum (IGM SB RAS), Paleontological Museum “GEOCHRON” (IPGG SB RAS), Museum of Earth’s History (NSU); and in addition a visit was arranged to the center for drill core collections (IPGG SB RAS). Several participants studied some key fossils, including types, in the Paleontological Museum.

These are the hard facts. But what did we learn? During four days of intensive lectures and poster sessions, the mornings and afternoons were prefaced by a wide range of keynote lectures including (i) Charles Lapworth and the founding of the Ordovician, (ii) an integrative stratigraphy for the Ordovician of Chinabioturbation, (iii)bioerosion and ecospace utilization during the Early Palaeozoic, (iv)Ordovician conodonts in the Russian Arctic, (v) the evolution of the Paleo-Asian Ocean during the Ordovician, (vi) Late Ordovician brachiopod evolution in Laurentiaand (vii) the Ordovician substrate revolution. A highlight was Alexandr Kanygin (the doyen of the Ordovician of Siberia) and his colleagues’ overview of the palaeontology and stratigraphy of this massive palaeocontinent. Many of the subsequent talks show-cased new data, new analyses and new ideas, many from younger presenters. There are many areas yet to be explored, new data to be captured and a wealth of Ordovician still to be properly documented through multidisciplinary lenses. It was refreshing to enjoy so many field-based studies.

But that’s not all. The visits to the museums were inspirational breaks from the lecture halls, grandstanding some super fossils, rocks and minerals together with a spectacular journey through earth history, beautifully narrated through some wonderful displays and exhibits.  About 80 delegates attended the pre (Gorny Altai, SW Siberia, July 9-18 and St. Petersburg area, July, 15-17) and post-conference (Podkamennaya Tunguska River, Siberian Platform, July, 23-30) excursions. A unique opportunity to sample Russia’s diverse Ordovician on two palaeoplates. We also learnt that the wearing of a red cap on Siberian excursions will deter bears. 

The conference dinner was quite unforgettable. Great food, vodka and wine, many great speeches with short representations throughout the evening from each country (and indeed palaeoplate) reinforcing the truly international nature of Ordovician research and researchers. Our Siberian hosts demonstrated their openness, fine hospitality and warm friendship. Dancing of various styles at a variety of tempos punctuated the evening. And, the Irish pub does dispense some excellent Guinness!

There was a short IGCP business meeting, well attended and with some useful discussion. Next year the final meeting of the project will be in early June, in the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen with fieldtrips in and around Scandinavia, including the magical island of Bornholm; more details to follow very soon. As is the tradition, we will apply for a further year and an absolutely final meeting is scheduled for the University of Lille in the summer of 2021. A proposal for the next ISOS congress in Estonia, ISOS14, was enthusiastically endorsed by the conference, for 2023.

A huge vote of thanks to our many Russian colleagues who made this memorable meeting such a great success. The atmosphere in and around Akademgorodok was very special and an ideal environment to meet both old and new colleagues, and discuss and present the very best of Ordovician research. Special thanks go to Olga Obut and Nikolai Sennikov together Andrei Dronov and their colleagues for providing all the delegates with such a unique experience. Очень большое спасибо.

David Harper and Yuandong Zhang (co-leaders, IGCP 653)

13th ISOS Photo Gallery 

IGCP 653 Symposium at the 11th North American Paleontological Convention

Project 653 combined forces with IGCP 668: Equatorial Gondwanan history and early Paleozoic evolutionary dynamics to host a full day symposium at the 11th NAPC meeting in Riverside, California.

The symposium included both oral and poster sessions and included 19 presentations from scientists representing nine countries. Keynote presentations from Christian Rasmussen and Franziska Franeck focused on improving understanding of the timing of diversification using sampling corrected methods to demonstrate that in increased rate of diversification during the Middle Ordovician relative to the rest of the Ordovician Radiation.

Meeting participants enjoyed the wonderful southern California climate with many opportunities for outdoor exploration on campus, during meals, and on regional field excursions. The included daily lunch and dinner provided ample opportunities to engage in conversation and collaboration.

Oral presentation schedule:

Poster presentations:

2018 Annual Report & Information Request

Hello IGCP 653 participants,

The third year of our project has been both an excellent and productive year. Our members had the opportunity to present and learn about cutting edge science, network, develop new collaborations, and publish new findings related to the onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, including the special issue in Lethaia.

Members presented their research and joined field excursions at four successful meetings:

It is time already to compile our third annual report. Throughout the year, we have compiled a partial list of publications associated with our project here:
However, recognize this list in highly incomplete, and we need to fully document the project publication output for the annual report.

Thus, please email Thomas Servias ( a list of any publications resulting from IGCP 653 efforts in which you have cited the project in the acknowledgements section by November 23rd. If you have project related publications, that did not explicitly cite the project, we would also appreciate a list of those.

Also, please do remember to prepare your future papers with acknowledgements to our project with a sentence such as “This paper is a contribution to the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) Project 653 – The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.”

We are looking forward to another highly productive year in 2019 with the Annual meeting held in conjunction with the 13th International Symposium of the Ordovician System in Novosibirsk, Russia and a IGCP 653 session at theNAPC meeting in Riverside, California.  Please email Thomas Servais with sponsorship proposals for additional meetings or symposia.

Thanks and best wishes,

IGCP 653 co-leaders

IGCP 653 session at GeoBonn 2018

IGCP 653 recently hosted a very successful session at the 2018 GeoBonn meeting.  The large German geoscience meeting, bringing together the three major societies (geology, mineralogy, palaeontology) of Germany and its umbrella federation, was held in the former capital, Bonn, from September 2-6, under the heading ‘GeoBonn 2018.’

Among the 16 topics (plus an additional open session), the palaeontology sessions were very numerous (and partly overlapping and running in parallel).

Session10a  ‘The early Explosion of Life – from the Cambrian innovations to the great Ordovician radiations’ was organized by Oliver Lehnert (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany) and IGCP co-leader Thomas Servais (CNRS – Université de Lille, France). The session was organised as a regional (European) meeting of IGCP 653 in 2018, a few months after the main annual meeting in Athens, Ohio, USA.

The session, although taking place during the last half day – and after the conference dinner running under ‘open bar’ conditions, was well attended by over 50 scientists (mostly, but not only, palaeontologists).

The session started with the keynote lecture of David Harper (Durham University, UK) entitled “The Early Palaeozoic marine diversifications: some causes and consequences.” Other talks included contributions concerning the impact of climatic events on the different distinct pulses of biodiversifications that are observed during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, GOBE (by Oliver Lehnert and co-authors), the emerging phytoplankton at the base of the food chains triggering the early Palaeozoic marine biodiversifications (by David Kröck and co-authors), and ecophenotypical morphology changes of Ordovician acritarchs (by Thomas Servais and co-authors). An eye-catching talk was surely that by Brigitte Schönemann (Cologne University, Germany) and Euan Clarkson (Edinburgh University, UK), who illustrated that trilobites developed a much better vision only during the Ordovician. After that talk, everybody was convinced that trilobites had a clear view on the GOBE!

IGCP 653 session at the 5th International Paleontological Congress (IPC5) Schedule

Hello IGCP 653 community,

The 5th International Paleontological Congress (IPC5) is coming up next week in Paris.  Our project is holding a full day session, and we are pleased to share the schedule with you in advance of the meeting.  If you are in Paris, we hope to see you there!

The programme of the (entire) IPC5 is now online:
The programme of our session S37 is below.
See you soon.
Best wishes,
Session S37: The onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification (GOBE): fossils, radiations and Lagerstätten – IGCP 653 session – T. Servais, D. Harper, B. Lefebvre, A. Hunter
Amphitheatre 55A
08:30 – 08:45
David Harper, Thomas Servais, Borja Cascales-Miñana, Timothy P. Topper & Per Ahlberg: The late Cambrian (Furongian) gap: real or apparent
08:45 – 09:00
Bertrand Lefebvre, Bernard Pittet, Farid Saleh Pierre Sansjofre, Muriel Vidal & Khadija El Hariri: New occurrences of the Early Ordovician Fezouata Biota (Morocco): predicted and found
09:00 – 09:15
Martina Nohejlová, Elise Nardin, Bertrand Lefebvre & Farid Saleh: Exceptionally preserved soft parts in eocrinoid echinoderms from the Fezouata Shale (Lower Ordovician, Morocco)
09:15 – 09:30
Aaron Hunter & Javier Ortega-Hernández: A primitive starfish ancestor from Morocco reveals the origin of crown group Echinodermata
09:30 – 09:45
Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco, Sofia Pereira, Jorge Colmenar, Samuel Zamora & Isabel Rábano: Middle Berounian (ca. Sandbian 2-Katian 1) trilobite, brachiopod and echinoderm assemblages from the southern Central Iberian Zone, Spain
09:45 – 10:00
Farid Saleh, Bertrand Lefebvre, Bernard Pittet & Martina Nohejlová: How does the skeleton influence soft tissues preservation? A case study from the Early Ordovician Fezouata Lagerstätte
10:00 – 10:15
Alexandre Pohl, David Harper, Yannick Donnadieu, Guillaume Le Hir, Elise Nardin & Thijs Vandenbroucke, Thomas Servais: Using climate modelling to reconstruct possible patterns of primary productivity and ocean circulation during the GOBE
10:15 – 10: 45 Coffee break
10:45 – 11:15
Alycia Stigall & Cole Edwards: Keynote: Coordinated biotic and geochemical change during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event: the view from Laurentia
11:15 – 11:30
Taniel Danelian & Claude Monnet: The pattern of changes in Ordovician radiolarian diversity in the context of the clade’s Early Paleozoic diversification
11:30 – 11:45
Aaron Hunter: Exceptionally preserved Late Ordovician ‘starfish beds’ from the Tafilalt area, Morocco: Implications for the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event
11:45 – 12:00
James Sprinkle & Thomas E. Guensburg: Evidence for homoplasy in hybocrinid crinoid and blastozoan oral regions and its phylogenetic implications
12:00 – 12:15
Bertrand Lefebvre, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco, Aaron Hunter, Martina Nohejlova, Elise Nardin Colin Sumrall & Samuel Zamora: Palaeobiogeographic implications of exceptionally preserved Late Ordovician echinoderm assemblages from the Tafilalt area, Morocco
12:15 – 12:30
Yiying Deng, Junxuan Fan & Zhongyang Chen: Evolution of Ordovician Marine Biodiversity Based on Data from South China and the CONOP Technique
12:30 – 14: 00 Lunch break
14:00 – 14:45
Mark Patzkowsky, Curtis Congreve & Peter Wagner: Keynote: An application of birth-death models to phylogenies to determine the timing of the Ordovician radiation
14:45 – 15:00
Aicha Achab & Esther Asselin: The Tremadocian age of the E. symmetrica Zone revealed by chitinozoans from the Lauzon N section, Québec
15:00 – 15:15
Kui Yan & Jun Li: A Katian microphytoplankton assemblage from Wanhe, Yongshan, east Yunnan Province, South China
15:15 – 15:30
Ru Fan, Shenghui Deng, Yuanzheng Lu, Shiben Zhang, Xin Li & Xueying Ma: Katian (Upper Ordovician) conodonts from the Upper Yangtze Platform, South China: Implications for understanding conodont diversifications in the Ordovician
15:30 – 15:45
Yan Liang, Olle Hints, Xiaocong Luan, Thomas Servais, Jaak Nõlvak, Peng Tang & Rongchang Wu: Palaeoecology of Floian and Dapingian (Ordovician) chitinozoans in South China
15:45 – 16:15 Coffee break
16:15 – 17:00
Christian Rasmussen, Claus Nielsen, Björn Kröger, Jorge Colmenar, Morten Nielsen, Mats Eriksson, Gilles Cuny, Jan Rasmussen, Thomas Servais, Arne Nielsen & David Harper: Keynote (3): Repartitioning Sepkoski’s original dataset into life cycle modes: Testing the importance of dispersal potential as a driver for Phanerozoic marine biodiversity levels
16:45 – 17:00
Zhihua Yang, Xiuchun Jing, Xunlian Wang, Hongrui Zhou & Hui Ren: Late Ordovician Conodonts from the Dashetai area in Inner Mongolia, North China
17:00 – 17:15
Renbin Zhan, Jiayu Rong, Kyi Pyar Aung & Shuzhong Shen: Saucrorthis (Brachiopoda) fauna from the Northern Shan States of Myanmar and its significance
17:15 – 17:30
Oive Tinn, Liisa Lang, Tiiu Märss & Kalle Kirsimäe: A strange case of two fishes: enigmatic disappearance of bone tissue or an originally unossified osteostracan
17:30 – 17:45
Thomas Servais & David Harper: Is the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE) an event?
17:45 – 18:00
Thomas Servais, David Harper, Olga Obut, Christian Rasmussen, Alycia Stigall & Zhang Yuandong: IGCP 653 Business Meeting

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!