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The Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA) is a voluntary organisation of academics, amateurs, governmental and industrial partners with interest in Irish landscape change during the most recent period of Earth history (the Quaternary). Its members have diverse interests including agriculture, archaeology, climatology, ecology, engineering, geography, geomorphology, geology and hydrology.

IQUA promotes Quaternary studies through its publications, conferences and symposia, awards and field meetings. It represents a unique pool of expertise in climate and landscape change capable of providing critical information on past and present Earth surface processes. It is an ideal forum for exchange of information between scientists, managers and interest groups concerned with the many contemporary issues associated with future climate change.

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The IGGy Early Career Workshop and the Third IGGy Scientific Workshop “Extreme Events (a geomorphological perspective)” will take place on the 25th & 26th of November, in conjunction with the "Extreme Earth: Events That Shaped the Quaternary”  IQUA Annual Symposium 2015 on Friday 27th November. See full details.


IQUA is pleased to announce that our bid to host the INQUA 2019 Congress in Dublin has been successful. Check out our dedicated INQUA 2019 page outlining aspects of our bid, which we'll update frequently. We thank everyone for their support during the bidding process.
INQUA 2019 Dublin Please also feel free to stop by our INQUA 2019 Facebook page for news and updates and other information on the Irish Quaternary, as well as our INQUA 2019 Twitter page. Alternatively, here's our INQUA 2019 bid flier, or just click on the image below.



Quaternary studies relate to the Quaternary period in the geological time scale. This is the shortest and most recent geological period covering the last 2 million years of the Earth's history, right up to the present day. The Quaternary and Tertiary periods together form the Cenezoic era. The Quaternary is generally broken into two epochs, the Pleistocene (from about 2 million years ago to ten thousand years ago) and the Holocene (from 10,000 BP to the present day).

The Quaternary period has been marked by repeated glaciations on large tracts of the Northern Hemisphere which are today ice free. Thus it includes what is popularly termed the Ice Age. Ireland was covered by thick glacial ice on at least two separate occasions during the Quaternary. The action of the ice sheets put the final shape on the Irish landscape. It also provided the parent material for more than 90% of our mineral soils covering much of the bedrock surface with up to 50m in thickness of tills ("boulder clay") and gravels. During the subsequent Postglacial (Holocene) stage other processes contributed to shaping the landscape. The great raised bogs of the Midlands and the blanket bogs of the mountains and Atlantic seaboard developed. Coastal processes gave us beaches, spits, tombolos, salt marshes and esturine muds. As well as extraordinary climate changes through out the world, the Quaternary period has also been characterised by the evolution of the hominid.


The Quaternary is the geological period which influences most directly on our day-to-day living. Its deposits cover more than 90% of the land surface of Ireland and are therefore the most important and most immediate of all the geological deposits in Ireland. Almost all major engineering works therefore encounter Quaternary deposits. All our sands and gravels are supplied from Quaternary deposits and all Irish soils including peatlands are Quaternary in age. Quaternary deposits often provide good groundwater and can offer protection from pollution to groundwater in underlying sediments and bedrock. Detailed investigations of Quaternary deposits provide reconstructions of past environments and chart changes over time. This approach is used to predict the impact of changes in factors such as climate, sea level or land use on our environment. The unique elements of the Irish flora and fauna can only be adequately explained in terms of the history of their distribution.


The QRA is teaming up with IQUA to explore the south coast of Ireland between 25th and 29th September. We will visit classic sections in Blackwater Harbour, Ely House, Kilmore Quay, Bannow, Courtmacsherry and Howes Strand. We will look at the remains of a pingo, visit corries and a cave with new excavation of Pleistocene layers. We will hear about deglaciation, peat initiation and vegetation change. We will wander through a Viking town and find out about the reconstruction of its environments through insect analysis. We will even core an interglacial deposit. For full details and to book your place, see our field meetings page.


This year IQUA and IGGy will theme their seminars around Extreme Events and combine them to take place between 25th-27th November in the lecture theatre of the GSI, Beggars Bush, Dublin. Outline programme: Wednesday 25th, afternoon: IGGy Postgraduate Workshops; Thursday 26th: IGGy scientific Workshop; and Friday 27th: IQUA Symposium. Detailed information will be available from mid September. For more information contact Xavier Pellicer ( (IGGy) or Margaret Browne ( and Donna Hawthorne ( (IQUA).


IQUA is delighted to announce the availability of Wicklow in the Grip of an Ice Age - A Self-Guided Tour of the Evidence of an Ice Age in Wicklow, hosted on the excellent Our Wicklow Heritage website, developed by the Wicklow Heritage Forum as an action of the County Wicklow Heritage plan (click here for the tour webpage).

The Virtual Tour retraces the May 2012 IQUA field trip to Wicklow, led by Profs. Pete Coxon, Fraser Mitchell and Patrick Wyse Jackson, which took place as part of the Dublin City of Science 2012. The trip comprised a tour to the northern Wicklow Mountains. There was a peat coring demonstration and an explanation of why the landscape now looks the way it does, considering the forests of the last 10,000 years and their clearance, and what the future may hold. Glacial features in the landscape including glacial corries, huge glacial lake basins and other features were explored.

The Virtual Tour locates and describes each of the key stops on the trip, with references to the IQUA field guide companion to the trip, which is available to buy in print for just 7 on our Field Guides page. Arguably the highlight of the Virtual Tour is a free interactive Google Maps tour (a version can also be downloaded and opened directly in Google Earth). We thank the efforts and support of Benjamin Thebaudeau and Wicklow County Council in the production of the Virtual Tour.