Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Eos, Vol. 87, No. 8, 21 February 2006.


The late Paleozoic Gondwanan ice age (LPGIA), which spans the late Carboniferous through early Permian, marks Earth's last complete transition into, and out of,'icehouse' conditions, and corresponds to peaks in the diversity and extent of paleotropical 'wet' forests [Gastaldo et al, 1996].Studying the LPGIA therefore has the potential to provide valuable information for understanding the Earth's transition out of the current Cenozoic ice age.

A recent two-day workshop brought together about 40 researchers from the various subdisciplines of the geosciences to (1) assess the current understanding of the timing, duration, and character of the LPGIA and how it influenced Earth's climate, sea level, depositional systems, and biota; (2) begin integrating the growing body of knowledge into a holistic framework that includes all aspects of studies of the LPGIA, including sedimentological, paleontological, and geochemical data; and (3) devise plans for future integrated research.

Participants included university faculty and researchers, state and government scientists, and graduate students. In addition, representatives from three U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded initiatives—Chronos (based at Iowa State University, Ames), Geosystems (based at the University of Oklahoma, Norman), and PALEOSTRAT (based at Boise State University, Idaho)—were on hand to provide overviews of these initiatives and describe their potential roles in future research efforts.