The recently concluded First Joint Scientific Meeting of Geological Society of China (GSC) and Geological Society of America (GSA) proceeded efficiently in the modern setting of the Jinjiang Hotel, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. GSA’s International Section played a key role bringing this meeting to the overseas communities. The meeting, titled ‘Roof of the World’, ended on 19 June, 2013, followed by several field trips that lasted from three to six days. The meeting was designed to promote and bolster the academic communication between the GSC and GSA, and covered a wide range of topics presented through 15 technical sessions, including: Evolution of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Continental Deformation and Deep Lithosphere Processes, Intra-Continental Deformations and Geo-hazards, Accretionary Orogens, Deep Earth Processes through Geochemistry, Mineral Deposits, Basins and Petroleum Resources, Permian-Triassic Mass Extinctions, Ultra High-pressure Metamorphism, Ophiolites, Carbon Sequestration, Water Resources and Hydrogeology, Gas Hydrates, Critical Transitions in Earth’s History and Foreland basin tectonics.
The GSC-GSA meeting took place just about six weeks after an earthquake struck Sichuan Province; however the City of Chengdu largely remained unhurt.
Based on presented talks and posters as shown in Figure 1, the session titled Mineral Deposits: Genesis and Exploration ended up having the highest number of presenters, and it certainly demonstrated China’s recent focus on resource geology in order to meet the demand for increased supply of energy and industrial minerals in connection with rapid urbanization and manufacturing needs. Scientific sessions on Tectonic evolution of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Intra-Continental Deformation, Gas Hydrates, and Foreland Basin Tectonics also drew the attention of many participants and reinforced the need for conducting additional fundamental research. Environmental sessions, including Carbon Sequestration and Water Resources and Hydrology, were popular and reminded us again about the need to maintain a sustainable environment and ecological balance given the rapid expansion of overall infrastructure and trade.
About the City of Chengdu
Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan province, and is currently recognized by many as the focal point of science and technology, finance, trade and commerce in southwestern China. It is the regional hub for communication and transportation. Chengdu’s 14 million inhabitants have a noticeably high proportion of science and technology skills, and the city is home to a large number of international financial institutions. Chengdu ranked fourth out of all Chinese cities in terms of permanent resident population after Chongqing (28.8462 million), Shanghai (23.0191 million), and Beijing (19.6120 million).
Chengdu is the flagship city for foreign investment in China. As a city famous for its tourism and its historical culture, Chengdu boasts Three-Kingdom-Period Culture, Jinsha Relics, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (over 2000 years old), and other historical sites. Given its booming economy, tourism, and recent high-tech establishments, Chengdu was honored the “Best Tourism City of China” by the World Tourism Organization and the National Tourism Administration in 2006. The city of Chengdu is situated in the southeastern portion of the Chengdu Plain, with high relief to the west and low to the east, a typical inland area. Tectonic units of Chengdu include the Mt. Longquan thrust belt, Chengdu Depression and Longmenshan Fold. For the most part, the Chengdu plain has an elevation ranging from 450 to 720 meters. Chengdu is bordered by the high and steep Longmen Mountain in the northeast and by the Qionglai Mountains in the west. Miao Jiling (5,364 m or 17,598 ft) and Xiling Snow Mountain (5,164 m or 16, 942 ft) are the loftiest mountain ranges. The western mountainous area is also home to a large primitive forest with abundant biological resources and a Giant Panda habitat. East of Chengdu stands the low Longquan Mountain and the area bordering to the west is comprised of the hilly middle reaches of the Min River. Since ancient times, Chengdu has been known as owing to its fertile soil, favorable climate, and novel Dujiangyan Irrigation System.
The surficial geology of Chengdu adjacent to the meeting place is divided into three stratigraphic units: the upper 1-3 m surface layer is occupied by yellow-gray silt clay and fill, the middle is brown- yellow gravels 10 to 20 meters thick with silt clay and silt lenses with sporadic clayey units, and the bottom is composed of red, thick-bedded mudstones of the Cretaceous Guankou Group (Figure 4 through Figure 6; after R. Q. HUANG, S. J. WANG, Z. M. XU, & L. Z. WU 2006). Due to high bearing capacity of the gravels (allowable bearing pressure is commonly from 700 to 1200 kPa) in Chengdu, it is deemed to be sound from a geoengineering point of view and capable of supporting most buildings (R. Q. HUANG, S. J. WANG, Z. M. XU, & L. Z. WU 2006; IAEG Paper number 712).
The weather was hot and humid and early morning showers kept humidity at a high level for both Tuesday and Wednesday (June 18 and 19, 2013). The conference venue was comfortably located in a downtown setting with lots of eateries (including Starbucks) within walking distance. The nearby Funan River walk was a pleasant break for many participants after the meeting, and it was quite peaceful. Lots of local residents were enjoying the scenery and doing physical activities: dancing, meditation, and other forms of aerobic exercises even close to midnight. Many residents easily get around the city on scooters. It was quite interesting to see several dozen scooter riders waiting patiently for traffic light turning green. Everyone followed their designated path with no apparent conflict with pedestrians!
The Geological Society of China
The Geological Society of China was founded in Beijing on 27 January 1922. It is one of the earliest scientific organizations in China, whose predecessor was the Chinese Society of Earth Sciences formed in Tianjin in 1909. The earliest geological map ever produced in China (that of the former Zhili Province, covering the present Hebei Province, Beijing, and Tianjin) was published in the founding issue of the Journal of the Chinese Society of Earth Sciences in 1910. Currently GSC has well-over 80,000 members. Apart from the GSC, the International Professionals for the Advancement of Chinese Earth Sciences (IPACES) coordinates with other geological agencies in China. The IPACES is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 and registered in the State of Michigan, USA. The missions of the IPACES are a) to promote cooperation in earth sciences between China and the US, and between China and other countries, and b) to advance earth science research and education in China.
Preparation for a joint GSC-GSA meeting dates back to 2011 when GSC and GSA representatives signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the GSA Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Paul Robinson, past Chair of the GSA International Section (IS), suggested Roof of the World as the title for this meeting and his suggestion was agreed upon by all attending IS management board members and guests. Details about this MOU were communicated through GSA IS 2011 Newsletter. Dr. Jack Hess (GSA Executive Director) and Melissa Cummiskey (GSA Director of Meetings) visited Chengdu in May of 2012, met their Chinese counterparts, and ironed out several key issues associated with the meeting, including the meeting location, accommodations, and other logistical matters.
Through the subsequent involvement and well-coordinated hard work of several key personnel, including Dr. Juhn Liou, Dr. I-Ming Chou, Professor Shuwen Dong (Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences), Dr. An Yin and Dr. Nazrul Khandaker, the Roof of the World meeting took shape and enabled participants from various parts of the world to attend and present their research. The fourth and final circular came into being in May of 2013 and culminated by assembling over 424 registrants including 97 overseas participants. Among the overseas participants, 66 were from the United States and the rest were from other 12 countries. There were over 329 abstracts presented (141 oral and 188 poster) at this first joint meeting between the GSC and GSA; however 531 abstracts were published in Acta Geologica Sinica, volume 87, Supplemental Issue 2013. GSA was represented by Suzanne Kay (incoming GSA President), Jack Hess (GSA Executive Director), and Wesley Hill (GSA International Secretariat), and GSA’s International Section Management Board (ISMB) was represented by An Yin (UCLA), Nazrul Khandaker (CUNY), and Ric Terman (GSA IS Treasurer and retired USGS geologist).