Back to the lab, happy new year!

Our field season is now over, and all the team is back to the lab for several months of intense sample preparation and analysis.

In total this year, we brought back ~100 kg of sediment and igneous rock samples for analysis, good exercise for our muscles. Jan and Pierrick are already working on extracting Paleomagnetic results from their core samples; Virginia is preparing her gastropods and bivalves for stable isotopic analysis; Alexis, Hnin Hnin Swe and Myat Kaythi are working on the sandstone petrography and provenance of their geological units.

In the forthcoming few months, we will post small updates of our labwork, as well as keep you posted about our presentations in international conferences. Until then, happy new year!

On the road to the old volcanic arc of Myanmar

The first part of our 2017 field trip is now over, and we are done exploring and logging sedimentary rocks for this year. Our reduced team (Jan, Pierrick, Zaw Win, and Alexis) is now working on the old (Cretaceous and paleogene, 100 to 40 million years old) volcanic rocks of central Myanmar, in the Wuntho range. After a short stop at the university of Shwebo, to give geology books to the local department of geology, we are now driving every day on the narrow roads of the forested range. Our program: sampling for paleomagnetism and geochronology. Funny discovery: while sampling river sands in a local mountain stream, Alexis found the same weird-shaped gastropods and bivalves that we found in the 40 million years old deposits near Kalewa, but this time alive and well. Crazy resilience of freshwater invertebrates !

Looking for future field sites in Minbu area, central Myanmar

Over the last four days, we have been prospecting for future sites of study in the Minbu sedimentary basin. Our main goal is to find new places where rock exposure is good enough to extend our studies started in Kalewa. We are targeting geological units spanning over a long time window, from 65 to 15 million years ago. It took us some time to find adequate sites, but we eventually found a very neat area where rock exposure is fresh by recent river incision. A lot of potential work for next year!

We have also been sampling modern pollen and carbonate samples to calibrate our paleoclimate proxies. Everyone gets something to do.

Geology outreach in the Kalewa township

Last Tuesday, U Zaw Win, director of the Max Myanmar mine (where we are spending most of our time working), invited the mining staff of the different companies of the valley, as well as several township officials, for an introductory class to geology by our team.

For an entire morning, we explained the basics of sedimentology, paleomagnetism, paleoclimatology and paleobotany to an audience of forty people, with the help of prof. Zaw Win (our Zaw Win, not the miner) for the translation. We tried to explain the broad geological history of Kalewa region, and how we are investigating it further. We even showed them how to drill a small core for magnetostratigraphy. A lot of interesting questions from the audience, about fossils, forests, and rock magnetism. A very rewarding experience!

Our current field work in Kalewa, central Myanmar

It has been now six days that we are based in Kalewa, and the team is growing everyday. Virginia, Jan, huasheng and Alexis have been joined by Hnin Hnin Swe, Myat kay Thi, and Guillaume, and we are all together working on improving the stratigraphy and the paleoclimatic record of the Upper Eocene and Oligocene (40-24 million years ago) sedimentary deposits of the area. Our day to day work includes paleomagnetic and geochronological sampling for dating deposits, logging of sections, and sampling for pollen and various paleoclimatic proxies. We are fortunately helped by the staff of the local coal mines, and commonly reach the most remote parts of the valley in the trunk of coal trucks, when our 4x4s cannot go further. Most of our time is spent working along stream beds, where rock exposure is the best. But we are not the only ones in the river: buffalos, wild dogs, and snakes like roaming around us.

 

After GSA, next meeting in Yangon on November 13!

The MyaPGr group was well-represented at the GSA 2017 conference meeting in Seattle, with Pierrick Roperch giving a talk on our paleomagnetic investigations in central Myanmar, Virginia Littell presenting her work on fossil gastropods and bivalves from the late Eocene deposits near Kalewa, and Alexis Licht presenting his sedimentological study of the Kalewa sedimentary section.

Two posters and one talk: a lot on Burmese Geology at GSA conference meeting

Next plan for the team: workshop on Burmese Geology on Monday, November 13 at the University of Yangon. In the morning, we will discuss the results of one year of labwork, with Jan, Virginia, Huasheng and Alexis discussing their recent work, and reuniting with the Burmese side of the team (Day Wa Aung, Hnin Hnin Swe, Myat Kay Thi, Kyaing Sein). In the afternoon, we will give two lectures at the university of Yangon: one on the recent advances in geochronological studies in Myanmar, and an introduction to paleomagnetism. The lectures are open to all the students of the department of geology.

We’ll then fly to Kalewa for one month of fieldwork. Pictures and feedbacks from the field will be posted on the blog!