Archean Environment: the habitat of early life

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Analysing the Archean


Short course, Utrecht, The Netherlands

28 June - 1 July 2010


Meeting Programme


Sunday 27 June

Participants arrive. Informal welcome and orientation.


Monday 28 June

09.00-09.15         Opening and Introduction

09.15-10.45         Session 1: Introduction/ Frontiers in early Earth research (3 slots)

10.45-11.15         Coffee

11.15-12.45         Session 2: Techniques I: Field (3 slots)

12.45-13.45         Lunch

13.45-15.45         Tutorial 1

15.45-16.00         Tea break

16.00-17.30         Session 3: Techniques II: Geochemistry (3 slots)

17.30-18.00         Discussion

19.00                  Dinner (BBQ)


Tuesday 29 June

09.00-10.30         Session 4: Case Studies 1 (2 slots)

10.30-11.00         Coffee

11.00-12.30         Session 5: Techniques III: Biogeochem (3 slots)

12.30-13.30         Lunch

13.30-15.30         Tutorial 2

15.30-16.00         Tea break

16.00-17.30         Session 6: Techniques IV: Early life (3 slots)

17.30-19.30         Tutorial 3

20.00                  Dinner


Wednesday 30 June

08.30-10.30         Tutorial 4

11.00-18.30         Fieldtrip

19.00                  Workshop Dinner


Thursday 01 July

08.30-10.30         Session 7: Case Studies 2 (2 slots)

                         Discussion session. Presentation of results from tutorial sessions

10.30-11.00         Coffee

11.30-12.30         Closing session

12.30-13.30         Lunch

14.00                  Shuttle departs for train station. Return to airport



Speakers in each session are as follows:

Session 1: Introduction/ Frontiers in early Earth research

David Catling (University of Washington): Early atmosphere

Euan Nisbet (Royal Holloway, Univ London): Early life/ early environments

Nick Arndt. Early continental and oceanic crust


Session 2: Techniques I: Archean Field Geology

Don Lowe (Stanford University) Archean greenstone belts

Adam Garde (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) Archean granite-gneiss terrains 

Gary Stevens (Stellenbosch University) Metamorphic terrains


Session 3: Techniques II: Geochemistry and mineralogy

Fernando Corfu (University of Oslo) Geochronology

Catherine Chauvel (LGCA Grenoble, France) Radiogenic Isotopes

Alexandre Simionovici (LGIT Grenoble) Synchotron techniques


Session 4: Integrated case studies I

1. Crustal growth rates and models – Steve Mojzsis (University of Colorado at Boulder), Minik Rosing (University of Copenhagen)

2. Style of tectonics in the Archean – Brian Windley (University of Leicester), Dominique Chardon (University of Toulouse)


Session 5: Techniques III: Archean biogeochemistry

Mark Van Zuilen (University of Bergen). Carbon in Archean rocks

Simon Poulton (University of Newcastle). Ocean redox: Reading the Archean rock record


Session 6: Techniques IV: Tracing the emergence of early Life

Sylvie Derenne (CNRS, Paris) Organic biomarkers

Steve Mojzsis (University of Colorado at Boulder) Stable isotopes

Barbara Kremer (PAS, Warsaw, Poland) Geological significance of cyanobacteria and their fossil record


Session 7: Integrated case studies II

1. Oxygenation of the atmosphere and evolution of cyanobacteria – David Catling (University of Washington), Hiroshi Ohmoto (Penn State University)

2. Temperature of the early Earth, faint young sun paradox – Euan Nisbet (Royal Holloway University of London), Norm Sleep (Stanford University)




We will organize a short field excursion to view modern stromatolite localities in the south-western part of the Netherlands on Wednesday afternoon. The climate in The Netherlands in June is mild but with plenty of sunny days. Special field gear and boots are not required but please bring a jacket in case of light rain.



Invited Speakers


1.      David Catling (University of Washington)

2.      Fernando Corfu (University of Oslo)

3.      Dominique Chardon (University of Toulouse)

4.      Catherine Chauvel (LGCA Grenoble, France)

5.      Sylvie Derenne (CNRS, Paris)

6.      Adam Garde (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland)

7.      Barbara Kremer (LMU Munich)

8.      Don Lowe (Stanford University)

9.      Steve Mojzsis (University of Colorado at Boulder)

10.    Euan Nisbet (Royal Holloway, University of London)

11.    Hiroshi Ohmoto (Pennsylvania State University)

12.    Simon Poulton (University of Newcastle)

13.    Minik Rosing (University of Copenhagen)

14.    Alexandre Simionovici (LGIT Grenoble)

15.    Norm Sleep (Stanford University)

16.    Gary Stevens, (Stellenbosch University)

17.    Brian Windley (University of Leicester)

18.    Mark Van Zuilen (University of Bergen)


Field trip organized by Bert Boekschoten and Jan Wijbrans (Free University Amsterdam)



Field geology and petrology : Lowe, Garde, Chardon, Stevens

Geochronology and Geochemistry : Bau, Corfu, Chauvel, Simionovici,

Stable isotopes : Mason, Poulton, Ohmoto, Catling

Biochemistry and paleontology : Mojzsis, Derenne, Kremer, Van Zuilen

Free electrons : Sleep, Nisbet, Rosing, Arndt


Chief tutor in bold

Students – 4 groups of 12-13.