2019 Summer School on Speleothem Science (S4)

11.08 - 17.08.2019  
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Contact person:
Brittany Ward, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
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The PAGES-supported 2019 Summer School on Speleothem Science (S4) will be held from 11-17 August 2019 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology, Romanian Academy (ERIS) and Babeș-Bolyai University (BBU), Cluj.


This summer school is open to approximately 30 to 40 students and early-career researchers. About 20 experts will also attend.


S4 is an educational workshop designed for students and early career scientists interested in speleothem science and paleoclimatology. S4 will consist of lectures, lab tours, field trips, and poster sessions centered around speleothem science and speleothems as climate archives.

Speleothems have proven to be valuable archives for reconstructing climatic, environmental and archaeological change over a wide range of timescales, from the instrumental era back to the Miocene. S4 will therefore cover a wide range of timescales in lectures, workshops and student presentations, although there will be a particular focus on high-resolution (annual to decadal) records of the last millenium, decadal to centennial-scale changes over the Holocene, millennial-scale changes over the Last Glacial interval, and orbital-scale changes over the Pleistocene. Because robust interpretation of speleothem proxies requires detailed knowledge of modern cave processes, there will also be considerable attention given to the present-day.


The primary objective is to provide an environment in which participants can consolidate their knowledge of speleothem science, be exposed to new techniques and future directions in the field, and interact with experts in a more relaxed environment than is typically encountered at scientific conferences. In doing so, the S4 aims to foster an inter-generational exchange of knowledge that will ultimately improve the quality of research in the field and stimulate progress into the future. An important secondary objective of S4 is to provide a means by which early career scientists from different parts of the globe working on speleothem-based research can get to know each other and establish their own networks within the field. This creates a feeling of belonging amongst those who are new to the field and provides a fertile environment for future collaborations.


S4 began in 2011, when speleothem science was a rapidly growing field, yet there were no dedicated workshops or summer schools available to early-career scientists. A small group of PhD students decided to address this, and worked together over 18 months to put together a comprehensive summer school. The inaugural S4 was run in Heidelberg, Germany, in 2013 and included lectures from highly regarded researchers within the field, practical workshops, lab tours, and field trips. Attendees were able to present their work in a relatively informal context and gain valuable feedback from the experts and their peers. Following the success of the first event, the S4 has been held biannually. It has become a tradition for a group of attendees from the previous summer school to volunteer to organise the next school.


The program will consist of lectures and workshops delivered by leading experts within the field and will conclude with a two-day field trip to the Apuseni Mountains (including a visit to the Scarisoara ice cave). Topics to be covered include fundamental aspects of speleothem-based research (e.g. stable isotope analysis, U-Th geochronology, petrography, trace element geochemistry and cave processes), as well as more novel techniques and approaches (e.g. clumped-isotope analysis, fluid-inclusion analysis, and an integration of speleothem records with climate models).

Confirmed speakers

- Ian Fairchild (Carbon Isotopes); University of Birmingham
- Silvia Frisia (Speleothem Petrography); University of Newcastle
- Dirk Hoffmann (Speleothems and Archaeology, U/Th Dating); Max Planck Institute
- Adam Hartland (Trace Elements); University of Waikato
- Yuri Dublyanski (Spelethem Fluid Inclusions); University of Innsbruck
- Bogdan Onac (Cryogneic Speleothems); University of South Florida and BBU
- Aurel Persoiu (Cryogneic Speleothems); BBU
- Kathleen Johnson (Speleothems and Climate Models); University of Calirfornia Irvine


S4 will cater to graduate students, early-career scientists, and more established scientists who are new to the field of speleothem science. Lectures and workshops will focus on the latest methods in fundamental speleothem techniques and will span a broad range of topics. They will also showcase novel techniques and approaches. A key aim of S4 is to facilitate discussion between participants and experts during both formal sessions and informal meetings, such as meals and bus rides. This makes the workshop accessible to people from all educational levels and backgrounds, as the lines between teacher and student are more blurred than they may be at other meetings.

Speleothem science is a truly global field, with important research being undertaken across Asia, Africa, North and South America, Oceania and Europe. S4 will aim to reflect this diversity by bringing together an international group of experts and participants.

Financial support

The S4 is pleased to offer a number of partial travel awards to support the attendance of participants from diverse backgrounds, scientifically under-represented countries or who otherwise demonstrate financial need. These awards are made possible thanks to the support of PAGES and EGU. Awards will be in the form of a reimbursement and are meant to help offset the cost of travel to S4. All applicants are encouraged to apply online (details below) by completing the travel award application form on the website.


Applications are now open, and will close on 15 March 2019.

Successful participants will be notified in April 2019 and the registration fee will be payable in April.

Applications can be submitted online by completing the application form on the home page here:

Further information

Questions can be directed to Brittany Ward: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Go to the official workshop website:

The S4 thanks EGU, PAGES, IAS, the Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology, Romanian Academy and Babeș-Bolyai University for their sponsorship of the event.