Last week I visited the second time a meeting of PALSEA2, this time in Lochinver, after the last one has taken place in Rome. PALSEA2 is a group of sientists, who focuses on the evaluation of paleo sea-level and causes for its change over time. Every year, a meeting takes place and brings people together to talk about this topic and how to proceed to put further constrains on future sea-level. Each meeting has a main topic and this year databases for sea-level indicators was at the top of the lists to discuss. Many interesting conversations filled the days and lead to many insights into this diverse research field.
The start of the conference was on two parking spaces in Inverness, where the scientists met early mornings for their transport into the north-west. Driving through the highlands with several stops to introduce us to the stunning landscape, which was unfortunately covert by the foggy conditions. The aim was Glencanisp Lodge, an old shooting lodge at the base of the mountain Suilven. The schedule allowed for a short walk and an introduction to the wide area associated to the lodge before check in. The conference part started with an open-air poster session staged in front of the house. Followed was this by an after-lunch introduction to north-west Scotland to prepare the participants for the following field days.
The first field day lead to Loch Erriboll and Loch Laxford. At the first loch we were introduced to the past ice sheet movements in that area and we got shown how the borehole sampling in salt marches takes place. Afterwards, we investigated a beach and looked for evidence for paleo-tsunami impacts in that area. The second loch brought us to a larger salt march, which forms part of the current research into global salt marches to reconstruct the sea level of the late holocene. The day was finished with a great introduction to the problematics of cosmological dating.
Unfortuneately the planned hike on the second field day onto one of the hills had to be abandonned due to the misty conditions. Alternatively, two locations where visited, which showed even more interesting sites to learn about the movement of the ice sheets and sea-level of the past. My personal favourite was the isolation basin, which showed the many different possible interpretations of the found evidance for the sea-level collected from boreholes. But also the geological interesting walls in a river basin and the great explanations of them by the experts were a great overview on the field of applied geology, which is still somehow new to me.
The last two days were reserved for talks of the participants. The first day covered sea-level change, ice sheets and the developments of both in the holocene. At the second day the focus was set on databases, its chances and risks and the poissible developments of the future. Both days delivered a great overview on the actual developments in this field and illustrated how important the current research in all its depth is to understand the existing problems.
All in all it was a magnificent week in the scottish highlands. It showed that there is still a lot to be done to better understand the sea-level and its causes of the past to get an better idea for the possible scenarios in the future.