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Fermor Meeting 2012: The Neoproterozoic Era: Evolution, Glaciation & Oxygenation

This meeting brought together the broad community of geoscientists (geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, paleobiologists and modellers) who are actively researching the Neoproterozoic Earth System.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the current state of the art regarding our understanding of the Neoproterozoic, make progress towards the stratigraphic subdivision of Precambrian time and to provide a mechanism for planning future research strategies.


  • Professor Ian Fairchild (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Dan Condon (British Geological Survey)
  • Professor Tim Lenton (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Graham Shields (University College London)
  • Field trip coordinator - Professor Martin Brasier (University of Oxford)

Meeting format

The 3-day meeting built upon the intensive research on the Neoproterozoic interval that has occurred in the past two decades with presentations in themed sessions reflecting the current state of the art. The meeting aimed to provide a mechanism for identifying key areas of research that deserve focussed (and perhaps coordinated) attention in future research efforts, and planning strategy for addressing such research. In the third afternoon time was set aside for chaired workshop-type style sessions to provide a venue for in depth discussion with a focus on defining future research trends.

The Ediacaran field trip inluded:

  • 22 September: Charnwood geology and palaeontology at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire and on casts held at the British Geological Survey.
  • 23 September: volcanic and sedimentary deposits and associated fossils of the Uriconian and Longmyndian of Shropshire.

Technical programme and invited speakers

Sequencing the Neoproterozoic rock record

Radio-isotopic dating, regional and global correlation; chronostratigraphy (e.g by Sr isotopes). Palaeomagnetism – palaeogeography; glacial records.

Speakers: Paul Hoffman (evening keynote lecture), Adam Maloof (keynote), Doug Benn, Galen Halverson, Francis MacDonald, Alan Rooney and Jenny Tait

Proxy record data for Neoproterozoic oceans and atmosphere

Our understanding of geochemical cycling during the Neoproterozoic is heavily reliant upon stable isotope and other geochemical proxy records. Despite our reliance upon these types of data there still remains controversy over their utility. New/novel proxy records (B, Fe, Mo, U) need to be discussed. A variety of sedimentological and geochemical data specifically bear on climatic evolution and evidence for glaciations.

Speakers: Huiming Bao (keynote), Don Canfield (keynote), Magali Ader, Dave Johnston, Simone Kasemann, Tim Lyons, Simon Poulton, and Nick Tosca

Co-evolution of life and the (Neoproterozoic) Earth System

The fossil and biomarker record of Neoproterozoic life is improving all the time, but the cause(s) of the evolution of animals demand critical debate. There has been particular interest in evidence for progressive or stepwise oxidation and its relationship to evolution, but also considerable scepticism. Other hypotheses deserve a wider airing and comparative testing against the available data.

Speakers: Martin Brasier (keynote), Andy Knoll (keynote), Guy Narbonne (keynote), Nick Butterfield, Tony Prave, Erik Sperling, Phil Wilby, Shuhai Xiao and Susannah Porter

Modelling the Neoproterozoic Earth System

Coupled geophysical and geochemical models are just beginning to be applied to modelling of Neoproterozioc environmental change. They provide a means of incarnating and thus testing the feasibility of various hypotheses as to the causes of change. At the same time, insight into the evolution of more complex, co-operative life forms is beginning to be gained through attempts to simulate it in silico.

Speakers: Gilles Ramstein (keynote), Ray Pierrehumbert (keynote), Christian Bjerrum, Tais Dahl, Andy Ridgwell, Dan Rothman

Fermor 2012

Event Details

Date: 19-21 September 2012
Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, London



Naomi Newbold
Tel: 020 7432 0981
[email protected]