First announcement: 12th International Symposium on the Ordovician System (2015)

James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia USA
Central Appalachian Mountains

Organizing Committee (Preliminary)

  • Stephen A. Leslie, James Madison University
  • John Haynes, James Madison University
  • Achim Herrmann, University of Arizona
  • Dan Goldman, University of Dayton
  • Matt Saltzman, Ohio State University
  • John Taylor, Indiana University Pennsylvania
  • John Repetski, United States Geological Survey

If you would like to help with the meeting, email Steve Leslie:
Proposed Dates (may change by a week or so in either direction)

  • Pre-meeting field trips 3-7 June, 2015
  • Technical Sessions June 8, 9, 10
  • Conference Field Trip June 11
  • Post-Meeting Field Trip(s) June 12-17.

The meeting will be on the campus of James Madison University ( in the City of Harrisonburg (, located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia ( close to major highways (Interstate 81 and Interstate 64) and serviced by Shenandoah Regional Airport (airport code SHD, Richmond, Virginia (airport code RIC) and Washington, D.C. (airport code WAS) are both approximately two hours away by car. Charlottesville (airport code CHO) is one hour away. We plan to have coaches to be available for transportation from Dulles International Airport (airport code IAD; Washington, D.C.) to Harrisonburg at two times on June 7th. We will also provide coaches, if necessary, to Dulles on the morning of June 12th.
The town of Harrisonburg was officially chartered in the late 18th century, though its settlement began much earlier. Its population is just under 50,000 and growing. The weather in June is moderate, with average monthly temperatures ranging from minima of about 15 ˚C (59˚F) at night to maxima of 28˚C (83˚F) during the day.
Those who enjoy outdoor activities will find many opportunities nearby for getting out. JMU is situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Valley and Ridge to the west. Shenandoah National Park is 15 miles to the east and offers some of the best scenery in the eastern US along the scenic Skyline Drive.

Technical Sessions
Technical sessions will be held at the university, with ample spaces for small gatherings of all sizes. The Department of Geology and Environmental Science at JMU ( is one of the largest undergraduate-focused programs in the eastern US, with over 15 faculty and roughly 130 Geology and Earth Science majors. The resources of the Department, e.g. labspaces equipped with microscopes, will be available during the meeting. If there is a specific type of space that your research group needs for a meeting, please let us know and we will do all we can to arrange it for you.

A conference volume is planned to be published as a Special Publication of the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  See for examples of this publication series.

Lodging & Meals
Both lodging and meals are available on-campus of JMU at reasonable cost. Incidentally, the food is quite good as it was ranked #3 Best Campus food in the USA for 2010 by the Princeton Review. In addition to the university housing and meal plan, there are many hotels and restaurants within easy walking distance.

Field Trips
The details of the field trips will obviously change as they are more fully planned.  There will be at least one pre-meeting field trip, a conference fieldtrip to Ordovician localities in the Shenandoah Valley area, and a post-meeting field trip. The details below are examples of what we plan. Watch for the First Circular where we will ask for field trip preferences and include information on costs.

Pre-meeting field trips:
Southern Appalachians
This trip will begin in Birmingham, Alabama on June 3rd and will spend June 4-7th visiting field sites. Initially we will examine the Middle to Late Ordovician carbonate to clastic transition from the Pratt Ferry Formation to the Athens Shale. Next we will travel to the Nashville area in Tennessee to visit the Middle and Late Ordovician platform carbonates exposed in the Nashville Dome. We will then travel east, back into the Appalachian fold and thrust belts where we will examine the development of the Taconic foreland in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. The trip will end at the conference site at JMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Lodging, food and transportation in the field will be covered in the field trip registration. A minimum of 8 and a maximum of 20 participants are required to run this excursion.

Possible trip to Oklahoma (depending on interest)
This trip will visit the extensive Ordovician exposures in Oklahoma along Interstate 35 through the Arbuckle Mountains, including the upper Arbuckle Group (Early Ordovician), Simpson Group (Middle-Late Ordovician) and the Viola Springs Formation, Sylvan Shale, and Keel Limestone (Late Ordovician). We will also visit the Womble Shale and Big Fork Chert at Black Knob Ridge, site of the Katian GSSP, and the Fittstown section that exposes the Bromide Formation and Viola Springs Formation, which is the auxiliary Katian GSSP section. This field excursion will meet on June 3rd at the airport in Dallas, Texas. We will spend June 4th – 6th visiting field sites, and return to Dallas by 8:00 AM on June 7th where participants will fly to Harrisonburg. Participants will need to make their own flight arrangements.  Lodging, food and transportation in the field are covered in the field trip registration.  A minimum of 8 and a maximum of 20 participants are required to run this excursion.

Conference Field Trip
The Shenandoah Valley hosts classic Ordovician exposures of the Early, Middle and Late Ordovician. We will examine these during a trip to the classic Tumbling Run section in the Strasburg, Virginia area. We plan to then travel to Washington DC and the National Mall where there will be the opportunity to visit the spectacular museums of the USA National Capital (   Conference attendees who are traveling out of Washington DC may bring luggage and depart from the conference at this time.

Post-meeting field trips
Central and north-central Appalachians
This trip will leave from Harrisonburg on June 12 and begin with the exposures of nearly the entire Ordovician sequence as developed along the C & O Canal along the Potomac River in Maryland ( We will then travel north on June 13 to examine the spectacular exposures of Ordovician carbonates in central Pennsylvania ( ). The final leg of the field trip on June 14-15 will visit the classic carbonate to clastic filling of the Taconic foreland as exposed in the Mohawk and Black River valleys of central New York State, which are the standard reference of the upper part of the Middle Ordovician in North America. For over 150 years these strata have posed complex and vexing problems whose solutions were of primary importance to Ordovician geology. The Late Ordovician outcrops that we will visit, including the magnificent exposures at Trenton Falls, are abundantly fossiliferous, expose an interesting array of different facies, and reflect the history of the Taconic Orogeny. The western-most regions of the area were dominated by supratidal to deep subtidal carbonates of the Black River and Trenton groups. These rocks are eastwardly replaced, in the deeper parts of the Appalachian Basin, by the Utica Group, a thick succession of dominantly black shale with some intervals of interbedded calcisiltite and calcilutite turbidites. The Utica facies migrated westward over time and diachronously replaced the Trenton facies during the course of the early Katian. The disparate clastic eastern and carbonate western facies are precisely correlated with a series of geochemically fingerprinted K-bentonite beds. Hence, participants will get to examine facies transitions and collect fossils within a precise geologic time framework. We will return to Harrisonburg on June 16th. Lodging, food and transportation in the field are covered in the field trip registration. A minimum of 8 and a maximum of 20 participants are required.

Possible trip to Trail Creek, Idaho (depending on interest)
This field trip will examine an exceptional series of exposures in the Ordovician and Silurian Phi Kappa and Trail Creek Formations in the beautiful Pioneer Mountains of central Idaho. We will visit the Trail Creek Summit, Little Fall Creek, Trail Creek road, and Trail Creek sections that have yielded beautiful graptolite faunas spanning most of the Ordovician Period (Floian to Hirnantian). Participants will also have an opportunity to collect abundant conodonts on bedding plane surfaces, including some bedding plane assemblages. In addition to examining outcrops that have served as biostratigraphic reference sections for western North America, participants can also enjoy the restaurants, art galleries, and pubs of Sun Valley, one of North America’s premier winter ski resorts. Participants need to make their own flight arrangements to and from Idaho. Arrive Boise, Idaho, June 12th; field excursion June 13-16th; depart Boise, Idaho, on June 17th. Lodging, food and transportation in the field are covered in the field trip registration. A minimum of 8 and a maximum of 15 participants are required. This will be an extremely strenuous field excursion in rugged mountainous terrain that will require substantial climbing on talus slopes at elevations over ~2400 m (~7880 ft).

Social Program for Accompanying People
The Shenandoah Valley boasts many vineyards, historic sites, and spectacular natural scenery including public caverns (,, ), and Shenandoah National Park ( These may be visited easily by accompanying persons and are most accessible via rental car. If there is sufficient interest, we will organise a one-day trip to Colonial Williamsburg ( or Historic Jamestown (   Alternatively, depending on interest, trips may be scheduled for Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States (, and Mountpelier, the home of James Madison, father of the US Constitution and fourth President of the United States ( In addition, Harrisonburg is located 2 hours from the many attractions of Washington DC. More details will be given in the First Circular.

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