MYAPGr news for 2020

The blog has been long silent despite an particularly active year for MYAPGr members! Let’s stop this long break and give you some exciting news.

Despite the tragic spread of the Covid pandemic which will likely postpone our field trip plans for Winter 2021, many students and members of the team have spent the confinement making significant progress on their research. Huasheng Huang published his first PhD paper on the palm pollen record of the Kalewa section, where we have been working over the last few years. Similarly, Jan Westerweel published the results of his magnetostratigraphic work there. Finally, Alexis Licht published a compilation of the geochronological work done by the team in the Wuntho Ranges. References for all these papers are available in the Communications section.

Among other good news, Virginia Littell, who was working on the stable isotopic record in gastropod and bivalve shells along the Kalewa section, defended her Master Thesis at the University of Washington in December 2019. Daniel Perez-Pinedo, who was working with us on the pollen record of the Eocene-Oligocene Transition in the Minbu Basin, defended his Master thesis in July at the University of Amsterdam. His work has just received the East-West Seed Afstudeerprijs voor Plantenwetenschappen award from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities in the Netherlands.

We will post more update in the winter, as we have other papers in progress. In the meantime, you can stay tuned to our work on our facebook page.

One more field season in the central Myanmar Basins

We are achieving our 4th field trip in the Central Myanmar Basins with new locations and new collaborators, with the exciting contribution of Willem Renema (Micropaleontology), Chris K Morley and Sarawute Chantraprasert (Structural geology). Five weeks of driving, logging, and prospecting between Chin State, Magway and Sagaing Divisions looking for sedimentary rocks, plutons, foraminiferas and structures.

We’ll keep you posted on the scientific outcomes!

Back to Myanmar very soon!

At HKT international conference last September.

The last two quarters have been busy for all the team: while many of us have been presenting their scientific work at international conferences (list: here), we published our first scientific paper (available for download here), result of 3 years of collaboration. More is coming in 2019: we have another paper in review, and three others at various stages of writing.

More importantly: the team will gather again for a ~5 weeks fieldtrip to central Myanmar this January. We will thus feed you with you pictures and regular updates on Facebook and on this blog.

Stay tuned, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

News from the middle of the summer

The Spring quarter has been intense for our students, with many conference talks and posters (cf our new ‘Communications” page).

Tamas Ugrai from the University of Washington, who helped with geochronological data acquisition.

In the mean time, we’ve accomplished a lot of work in the lab, and our first scientific paper should be in press soon. Several more to come in the next few months, before our next field trip season! Most of the team is spread over the world for other field trips or conferences.

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.