In August 2008 S. Gurney (University of Reading) conducted a pilot project in the far north of Finland based at the Kevo Sub-Arctic Research Institute with colleagues R. Mourne (University of the West of England) and J. Käyhkö (University of Turku, Finland). The project aims to investigate methane production from collapsing palsas. A palsa mire not previously investigated was identified and preliminary data obtained. The work was funded through the LAPBIAT scheme of the EU Sixth Framework Programme ‘Structuring the European Research Area Specific Programme’.

Fieldwork in the Mason Bay area of the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, western Arctic Canada, logged and sampled the Pleistocene Kidluit Formation and examined massiveice exposures and fl uvial gravels. The Kidluit Formation is hypothesised to record the former deposits of the palaeo- Porcupine River, which fl owed from the north Yukon into the Arctic Ocean until its path was blocked by the Mackenzie lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Late Wisconsinan, diverting it into the Yukon River system. Preliminary optical dating by M. Bateman (Sheffield) indicates an Early to Mid Wisconsinan age for the Kidluit Formation. New evidence found in 2008 indicates that the formation incorporates glacial material (facetted and striated clasts) that is older than the last, Late Wisconsinan glaciation. This glaciation now needs to be correlated with one from the Yukon. Massive-ice exposures at Crumbling Point (Summer Island) and around Mason Bay are opening up due to thaw slumping, off ering ideal conditions for calibrating geophysical mapping of ice and glacitectonite, to elucidate understanding of interactions between permafrost and the Mackenzie palaeo-ice-stream.

Fieldwork undertaken by S. Hitchens (Sheffi eld) during this summer was integral to a regional study of the Late Pleistocene periglacial environment of East Anglia that had begun in the central Breckland area, around Thetford, in December 2006. This study extended north and south in the region during the summer. The central thrust of the research is to constrain the chronology for periglacial aeolian activity and patterned ground formation using optical luminescence techniques that have only recently been directed to work in this part of the UK. Periglacial stripes were examined and sampled in trial pits in Cambridgeshire and northwest Norfolk. Currently the sediments are being prepared for optical analysis at the dating facility at Sheffield University and will contribute to the greater body of data being generated from samples collected in the Breckland area.

In August 2008 Professor Charles Harris retired from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. Over a long and distinguished career, Charles has made many important contributions to permafrost science, periglacial geomorphology and Quaternary geology, in terms of research, teaching and administration. Highlights include his seminal research on the understanding of periglacial hillslope processes and deposits, his leadership of the European PACE project, his editorial contributions to Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, and his guidance as Vice-President to the IPA. In addition Charles has for many years provided excellent leadership for the UK permafrost and periglacial community. We wish him a happy and fulfilling retirement in south Wales.

 

We regret to note the death of G. Larminie in October 2008. He was Alaska manager of BP Oil Corporation in the early 1970s and Director of the British Geological Survey in the late 1980s. He served on many polar advisory groups, was a supporter of interdisciplinary research, and appreciated the role of permafrost in northern petroleum exploration and development.

Julian Murton (j.b.murton@sussex.ac.uk)