International Union for Quaternary Research

The International Union for Quaternary Science (INQUA) was established in 1928 and exists to encourage and facilitate the research of Quaternary scientists in all disciplines. To this end:

  • Five Commissions (Coastal & Marine Processes; Humans & the Biosphere; Palaeoclimates; Stratigraphy & Chronology; Terrestrial Processes, Deposits & History) provide leadership in different spheres of research, and are responsible for ensuring that INQUA scientists remain at the forefront of their fields.
  • INQUA is committed to promoting collaborations among scientists around the world. It places special emphasis on assisting early career and developing country researchers to become involved in international projects.
  • The Executive awards grants for running meetings to assist in planning such projects.
  • INQUA continues to encourage Quaternary associations around the world to join its more than 50 national and regional Members in an on-going bid to be all-inclusive.

INQUA Congress 2019: Dublin

INQUA Congress 2019

International Council for Science

INQUA is a full Scientific Union member of the International Council for Science

Click here to download INQUA's statement on climate change

INQUA Mission and Activites

INQUA's basic goal is to promote improved communication and international collaboration in experimental and applied aspects of Quaternary research, in order to contribute in practical ways to an evaluation of the scale and rates of global environmental changes during the recent geological past. INQUA considers that a deep knowledge of global developments during the past 2.58 million years (the Quaternary geological period) provides the essential template for assessing the significance of current and predicted global environmental shifts. The Quaternary period witnessed the evolution of modern humans against a back-drop of recurrent advance and retreat of glaciers and continental ice sheets, major oscillations in global sea level, abrupt reorganizations of global meteorological and oceanographic circulation patterns, and a range of other physical and biological adjustments to climate change. The spectrum of environmental changes reflected in Quaternary geological records is likely to encompass the conditions the world may experience in the foreseeable future. Quaternary records therefore offer important base-line data for evaluating a number of the issues at the forefront of today’s environmental concerns, such as quantifying future ice sheet decline and sea-level rise, ocean warming and acidification, increasing climatic instability, extinction of plants and animals, groundwater recharge rates, volcanic and tectonic unrest, rates of adaptation (e.g. evolutionary) to abrupt environmental change, and so on. Each of these needs to be evaluated in the longer term, not just in the instrumental period, to be properly understood.

INQUA promotes greater understanding of the importance of Quaternary environmental and archaeological records in two ways, by engaging with international dialogue and activities concerned with modern global environmental problems, and by funding activities that clarify the background context to these problems, within the Quaternary timescale.

INQUA's full mission statement can be obtained from here (pdf 76kb)

Quaternary International

Quaternary International is the official journal of the International Union for Quaternary Research. The objectives are to publish a high quality scientific journal under the auspices of the premier Quaternary association that reflects the interdiscuplinary nature of INQUA and records recent advances in Quaternary science that appeal to a wide audience. More details on our publications pages

Quaternary International

The Quaternary Period in Earth History

The Quaternary Period spans the last 2.6 million years of the Earth's history. The Quaternary is an interval with dramatic and frequent changes in global climate. Warm interglacials alternated with cold ice ages. The Earth is right now entering a time of unusually warm climate. Significant and potentially rapid environmental changes could pose major challenges for human habitability.

The expertise of Quaternary scientists is to interpret the changing world of the glacial ages and their impact on our planet's surface environments. Quaternary palaeoclimatic investigations play a key role in the understanding of the possible future climate change on our planet.

The Anthropocene

The Anthropocene is an informal term, widely used to indicate the present time interval, in which many geologically significant conditions and processes are profoundly altered by human activities. It is important to note that this is not a formal geologic term and the time period it covers currently unspecified. However, recognition of this term as a formal subdivision of the geologic record is currently under discussion by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. For more information go to the SACCOM Commission site.