As a result of restructuring at CNRS, Caen, the Centre de Géomorphologie is now a URA (Unité de Recherche Associée) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. The laboratory is associated with the geologists of the  universities of Caen and Rouen (Normandy). This new unit depends on the department SDU (Sciences de l'Univers)  of the CNRS, which is mainly composed of geologists and of experts on the atmosphere and oceanography. The name of the URA is "Geomorphology and Surface Transfers" (URA 1694).

There are three main teams:

  • Milieux extrèmes (J. Aguirre-Puente, director of the unit): physics of the frost, planet Mars, and arid zones
  • Superficial formations, Quaternary (J.P. Lautridou and J.L. Lagarde)
  • Exchanges between water and sediments at the contact of the continent and the ocean (J. Avoine and R. Meyer)

The French Periglacial Association (l'Association Française du Pergélisol) has now opened its membership to geologists and geophysicists. The association has also published the first issue of an annual journal entitled Environments Périglaciaires. This journal will publish articles in English or French, and will accept for publication material which is not suitable for inclusion in major journals, such as data sets, abstracts of doctoral theses, and so on. The following passage, which is taken from this first issue, is from an editorial by Brigitte Van Vliet-Lanoe, the President of the French Periglacial Association.

Periglacial Perspectives

Some questions to be addressed in the coming years by the French Periglacial Association:

  1.; background-repeat: no-repeat;">What is the climatic significance of periglacial structures observed at the present time in the Arctic and in mountainous regions or those of their fossil homologues in our regions? Is the parallelism between present conditions in mountains and Weichselian landscape valid? How did different continents react in (peri)glacial time?
  2.; background-repeat: no-repeat;">What has been the zonal distribution of permafrost in Europe since Pre-Tiglian time (2.5 Ma)? What are the mechanical or climatic relationships between periglacial and Cenozoic tectonic movements? Which tectonic structures could be confused with periglacial phenomena? How representative are specific observations of periglacial phenomena, in a given area and morpho-sedimentological setting, in relation to the extent of permafrost at different times during the Last Glaciation?
  3.; background-repeat: no-repeat;">What is the real effectiveness of erosion in a periglacial context?

Submitted by J.-P. Lautridou