Report of the Cisuralian GSSP Field Workshop

A long expected field workshop on the Cisuralian of the Urals was successfully conducted from June 25-July 4, 2007. Unfortunately not everybody who wanted to join this workshop was able to come to Russia due to visa problems and we are sorry for those problems. There are several other issues, such as accessibility to the sections and the complicated and long process of getting permission to get samples through customs that might affect establishment of these GSSPs in Russia. However, we hope that with recent improvements of the economy and political climate in Russia that these problems will be simplified or no longer an issue in the near future.

The main goal of the field workshop was to visit and collect samples from three sections that have been proposed as potential GSSPs for the base of Sakmarian (Kondurovsky), for the base of Artinskian (Dal’ny Tulkas section) and for the base Kungurian (Mechetlino section) stages (see Permophiles 41, 2002). The original plan of 2005 was to visit all Cisuralian stage sites including the ratified Aidaralash section in Kazakhstan that is GSSP for the base of the Permian System and Asselian Stage. However, again due to potential complications with samples that would be brought through both Russian and Kazakhstan customs, we limited this workshop to only those sections in Russia.

The workshop was hosted by Boris Chuvashov, the Chairman of the Cisuralian Working Group and Valery Chernykh, both from the Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of the Uralian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterinburg and by Viktor Puchkov, the Director of the Institute of Geology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ufa, Bashkortostan.

The following specialists were participants of the workshop (in alphabetic order):

  • Dr. Chernykh, Valery V., - Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of Uralian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterinburg, Russia - conodonts
  • Dr. Chuvashov, Boris I. - Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of Uralian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterinburg, Russia – foraminifera, algae, general stratigraphy and geology of the Urals
  • Dr. Davydov, Vladimir I., Vice-Chairman, Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy, Research Professor, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA - foraminifera Eastman, Nancy J., student of Dept. of Geography, Geology and the Environment Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, USA
  • Dr. Gareev, Emir Z., Secretary-General of Bashkirian Academy of Sciences, Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia – geochemistry and geological heritage
  • Dr. Henderson Charles M., Chairman, Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy, Professor, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada - conodonts
  • Dr. Kulagina, Elena I., Senior Researcher, Geological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia - foraminifera
  • Dr. Puchkov, Viktor N., Director of Geological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia - tectonics
  • Dr. Schiappa, Tamra A., Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, Geology and the Environment Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, USA - ammonoids
  • Dr. Schmitz, Mark D. Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA – radiogenic geochemistry
  • Dr. Shuzhong Shen, Secretary, Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy, Professor and Director of State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 39 East Beijing Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210008, P.R. China - brachiopods
  • Dr. Stephenson, Michael H., Principal Researcher, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, Ng12 5gg, UK – palynology

It was a great advantage that we had specialists in various disciplines that provided information on different aspects of Uralian geology. It was very important to learn from Dr. Gareev, the official representative from Bashkirian Academy of Sciences, that all sections in Bashkortostan are now included in the list of geological heritage sites and protected by the Bashkirian government.

The trip started immediately after ICCP in Nanjing on June 25, 2007 (see report in this issue of Permophiles). After a long flight to Moscow followed by a long wait at Sheremetyevo Airport and then an overnight flight to Ufa we arrived at the Mechetlino section in central Bashkortostan on the afternoon of June 26. The trip ended on July 4, 2007 at the Kondurovsky section, Orenburg Province. During our trip we carefully examined transitional boundary beds in four sections. Conodonts, fusulinids, ammonoids, brachiopods and palynology samples were collected in all sections by the participants. The Usolka section, although it is not considered for a Cisuralian GSSP, was also examined for volcanic ash samples and biostratigraphy. In addition, several volcanic ash layers were found and collected from Mechetlino and Dal’ny Tulkas sections. Dr. Shuzhong Shen, with help of Dr. Davydov, collected a set of samples for stable isotopic study in the Kondurovsky section. Dr. Chernykh distributed among participants his new book “Early Permian conodonts of the Urals”, Transactions of Institute of Geology and Geochemistry, Ekaterinburg, 2006; it included descriptions of the visited sections during our field trip, as well as the taxonomy of key conodont species.

The field trip was successful overall and we enjoyed great geology, the beautiful scenery and natural setting of the southern Ural Mountains, and excellent hospitality. The wishes were especially warm after an excellent lunch hosted by our Russian colleagues at their camp next to the Kondurovsky section in which excellent sandwiches of sardines, onions and potatoes and fine vodka were consumed. The toasts spoke of the deep feelings for Uralian geology as well as the hopes for continued and long-term international collaboration.

A number of suggestions were made to Dr. Chuvashov, Leader of the Cisuralian Working Group, for further consideration prior to submission of formal GSSP proposals including: 1) drafting of new stratigraphic columns with metres above base and new and old bed numbers indicated; 2) additional closely spaced conodont samples to be collected at the proposed GSSP sites in order to have a clear, high-resolution, defined point; 3) preparation of the sites to improve the exposures; 4) preparation of a detailed description regarding access and sample transportation and customs procedures; and 5) shipment of collected samples as soon as possible and hopefully no later than October 2007. The latter is especially important so that these samples can be processed (for conodonts, geochronology, isotopic geochemistry, palynology…) and reported in the proposals. Furthermore, the early shipment of these samples is necessary to demonstrate the accessibility of these sections as well as the reproducibility of the definitions. The Permian Subcommission is planning jointly with ICS to send a letter to the Russian government explaining the importance of simplification of custom procedures for such geological samples.

It is hoped that proposals can be produced by August 2008 for the base-Sakmarian and by August 2009 for the remaining two GSSPs. SPS will also be inviting others, in addition to those on the field excursion, to serve on the working group and make contributions to Permophiles. We especially need information about the correlation of the proposed definitions (Permophiles 41) into other regions, as well as suggestions for supplementary reference sections; the latter may be especially important for the base-Kungurian proposal given the provincialism apparent at this time. We also need any new information on the environments of deposition at each site. We plan to publish a more comprehensive report that will summarize recent progress of the Working Group including paleontological, stratigraphic and geochemical data in the next issue of Permophiles (#50).

Vladimir Davydov Department of Geosciences
Boise State University
1910 University Drive
Boise ID 83725 USA

Charles Henderson
Department of Geoscience
Universityof Calgary
Calgary Alberta Canada
T2N 1N4