The DARIUS Programme - Darius News


DARIUS News 3 - January 2013

The DARIUS Programme is entering its final year. In 2012, we were glad to welcome two new sponsors, BHP Billiton and Maersk Oil. Their participation has allowed us to fund more scientific projects in 2012 and to develop more activities. You will find in this 3rd issue of the DARIUS News general information about the Programme and more particularly information on the activities of the DARIUS Working Groups, including overviews of all five of our main themes, written by the leaders of these groups.

During the past three years the first priority of DARIUS has been to investigate the 6000km-long continuous orogenic belt extending from Crimea-Anatolia in the west to Tien-Shan in the east, through the Caucasus, Central Iran and Zagros and western Central Asia. The major objective is to understand the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the orogenic domains within this belt and associated basins resulting from the collision of Gondwanan blocks with southern Eurasia from the late Palaeozoic. Accordingly the first three years of the Programme were almost exclusively devoted to data acquisition through scientific projects submitted by invited senior geoscientists. The 2010 and 2011 DARIUS budgets reflected this orientation, with about 90% of each devoted to funding individual scientific projects. In 2012, having initiated the regional syntheses phase of DARIUS through the activities of the 5 regional Working Groups, the funding devoted to scientific projects was reduced to about half the year’s budget. Nevertheless, in 2012 we were still able to support 40 scientific projects.
Since 2010, 116 scientific projects, covering most of DARIUS’s area of interest, have been funded during this time. Almost all of these projects developed in a successful way. In each of the countries where DARIUS teams worked, strong collaborations were established between European and local participants. The work has involved more than 350 scientists from 150 scientific organisations from 25 different countries from Europe, the Middle East and Western Central Asia. The DARIUS projects have produced strong collaborations and relationships between European and local scientific organisations. Given that for several areas, like Central Asia and the Caucasus, geological field activity was very limited in the last 20 years, the DARIUS results represent a significant increase of fresh data. The newly obtained information is a good basis for the syntheses that will be developed in 2013.

2013 is the last year of the Programme and will be exclusively devoted to syntheses and to the preparation of the DARIUS products: the GeolIS Database and atlas of DARIUS palaeotectonic maps. After 4 years of hard work, mainly in the field, we expect in 2013 that the results of the DARIUS Programme will provide new viewpoints and interpretations of the geological tectonic evolution of the Middle East - Central Asia region.

The synthesis stage of DARIUS was initiated in 2012 through the five regional DARIUS Working Groups. The key objective of these groups is to produce regional geological syntheses at the end of the programme, based on all the new information obtained via the DARIUS scientific projects, as well as published data, in collaboration with the DARIUS participants and regional specialists. In the context of the main themes approach of DARIUS, given its vast area of investigation, the f ive DARIUS scientific Working Groups are composed according to regional affinities: the evolution of Eastern Black Sea - Caucasus domain, Anatolia, Cimmerian Blocks from Iran to Central Asia, Zagros-Makran, and western Central Asia including South Caspian Basin. Their activities and scheduled results are more extensively illustrated in this newsletter. For each Working Group, a two-day symposium has already been or will be organised in 2012-2013, including scientific presentations and discussions. Three workshops took place in 2012. The first was held in February 2012 in Milan. This meeting dealt with “the Evolution of the Cimmerian Blocks from Iran to Central Asia” and was led by Andrea Zanchi (Università degli studi di Milano Bicocca). In April 2012 Alastair Robertson (University of Edinburgh), together with E. Bozkurt (Middle East Technical University, Ankara), organised the second workshop in Ankara. It was held jointly with the 65th Geological Congress of Turkey and focused on “the tectonic evolution and paleogeography of Anatolia”. The other 2012 workshop concerned the evolution of the Zagros-Makran fold belts. It was led by Jaume Verges, held in May at the Institute of Earth Sciences “Jaume Almera” in Barcelona. Each of these 2- day meetings brought more than 50 scientists together. The remaining two regional workshops will be held in the first half of 2013. The Central Asia workshop will be held in Bonn (Germany) in late February, organised by M.F. Brunet (IsTEP, Paris) and T. McCann (University of Bonn). The final regional workshop concerns the Caucasus - eastern Black Sea Working Group. It will be organised in Tbilisi in May 2013 jointly by M. Sosson (GeoAzur, Nice) and S. Adamia (Tbilisi State University).

In 2013, a large proportion of the activity of the DARIUS Programme will be devoted to the elaboration of the final products. One of the final objectives of DARIUS will be realised through a set of palaeotectonic maps of the Middle East - Central Asia domain. This atlas of palinspastic maps, ranging in age from Late Palaeozoic to Pliocene, will be available by the end of 2013. Last, and certainly not least, the GeolIS Database, built initially during the MEBE Programme, will be further developed and updated with all the new information gathered during DARIUS. The database includes any kind of tectonic, stratigraphic, sedimentological, and geochronological data for the DARIUS domain of investigation. The GeolIS team, led by B. Vrielynck provides a convenient and useful interactive interface between the DARIUS data and users. To conclude this successful and productive programme, with the aim of cementing realistic and efficient interactions between the academic and industrial worlds, we will organise the final event of the DARIUS Programme in Paris, by the end of 2013. We hope to see you in this open Symposium that will gather all the actors of the programme together with other geoscientists involved in studying the geological evolution of the Middle East-Central Asia domain. We expect it will represent a major contribution to the knowledge of the regional tectonic evolution of this key and poorly understood tectonic domain.
Finally, we would like to thank all the companies and research organisations that have sponsored DARIUS over the past 3 years. Without their support it would have been impossible to provide the broad range of scientific activities that we were able to perform and to collect and synthesise such a huge quantity of original data.

E. Barrier, M.-F. Brunet, R. Stephenson


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DARIUS News 2 - May 2011

The DARIUS Programme is in its second year. In late 2010, we were glad to welcome a new sponsor, STATOIL that joined us. The entrance of STATOIL has allowed us to fund more scientific projects in 2011 and develop more activities.
The present year, as for 2010, is almost exclusively devoted to data acquisition. In 2010, 36 scientific projects were funded. Almost all of them developed in a successful way. The 2010 projects involved more than 150 scientists from 44 research institutions and universities from 16 countries in Europe, the Middle East and western Central Asia. These projects involved strong collaborations and relationships between European and local scientific organizations.
In 2011, DARIUS scientific activities are developing through 38 scientific projects led by senior geoscientists. The set of 2011 scientific projects covers most of DARIUS’s area of interest. The 2011 budget reflects the orientation of the programme, with funding devoted to scientific projects representing about 80% of it. About 90% of 2011 projects are extensions of 2010 projects with the remaining 10% being new.

In the context of the main themes approach of DARIUS in its vast area of investigation, the 38 DARIUS scientific teams can be grouped as follows: the evolution of Eastern Black Sea and margins (3 projects), Caucasus domain (7 projects), Anatolia (7 projects), Para-Tethys, South Caspian Basin, Central Iran Blocks (5 projects), Zagros-Makran (3 projects), and in western Central Asia, the evolution of the Mesozoic Basins (3 projects), Tien-Shan (5 projects), and Pamir Block (1 project). You will find in this 2nd issue of the DARIUS News information on several selected scientific projects dealing with various regional and thematic topics, as well as on other aspects of DARIUS activities (including participation in international conferences, publications, etc.). An original aspect of DARIUS this year consists of developing scientific work in most of the countries of the area of investigation, especially where little recent scientific academic co-operation existed. In 2010 we targeted geological issues in western Central Asia countries. In 2011, still more than 30% of the DARIUS projects are targeting this important region of academic and oil interests. In addition, we have increased the number of scientific projects (7) dealing with the Caucasus domain (s.l.), a still poorly studied area and a key for any regional reconstruction.
In addition to data acquisition, we have in 2011 initiated the synthesis stage of DARIUS with the setting up of DARIUS Working Groups that are expected to develop further in 2012. One key objective of these groups is to produce syntheses at the end of the programme, based on all the new information obtained via the DARIUS scientific projects, as well as published data, in collaboration with DARIUS participants and regional specialists. Further information can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.
Last but not least, in 2011, B. Vrielynck, the GeolIS Database Manager and his group, are continuing to update the library of geological maps and regional kinematic reconstructions for the DARIUS domain.
We strongly wish all the DARIUS teams the very best in their pursuit of significant new and fresh data in 2011, data that will contribute to new interpretations and reconstructions of the regional tectonic evolution of the Middle East - Central Asia domain. Finally, we would like to thank all our sponsors and colleagues from all the scientific teams of 2010 and 2011, without whom none of the DARIUS activities would be possible.

E. Barrier, M.-F. Brunet, R. Stephenson


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DARIUS News 1 - March 2010

Academic studies focused on the Tethys oceans have been carried out through four consortium-type programmes for 25 years now. We are glad to present the next one, the DARIUS Programme, in this first issue of the DARIUS News.
At the end of 2007, with a successful close to the Middle East Basins Evolution Programme (MEBE), the MEBE team prepared a new consortium with the same partners to begin in 2009. The DARIUS Programme is the MEBE descendant. It maintains parts of the MEBE management and scientific teams, but also involves new participants and areas of investigation in Central Asia.
The frame of the new Programme was determined during 2008 from two basic considerations: (1) the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of several regions in the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone remains highly questionable, generally due to a lack of original and reliable data, and (2) the platforms, basins and folded domains of southern Eurasia in Central Asia are poorly documented in terms of their geological evolution, besides being of great interest for hydrocarbon exploration.

The idea of a new Programme, focused on the Middle East-Central Asia fold belt, its foreland and basins, appeared and the DARIUS Programme was born. Its major objective is understanding the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the orogenic domains and their associated basins resulting from the collision of Gondwanan blocks with southern Eurasia from the Mesozoic (Cimmerian blocks) until the Cenozoic (India, then Arabia).
Thus, DARIUS will investigate the 6000km-long continuous orogenic belt extending from Crimea-Anatolia in the west to Tien-Shan in the east, through the Caucasus, northern Iran and Zagros. To realize this objective the first year of the Programme is devoted to data acquisition through scientific projects submitted by invited senior geologists and geophysicists. Most of principal investigators have already successfully carried out projects in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries over the last decade.
The budget of the first year of DARIUS also reflects the main orientation of the Programme, with about 90% of the total budget devoted to funding scientific projects.
For 2009-2010, 36 projects were selected out of 42 proposals submitted, covering most of DARIUS’ area of interest. These projects involve 40 research institutions and universities from 15 different countries. They involve scientists from about 150 scientific organizations from European, Middle Eastern and Western Central Asian countries.
One major aspect of DARIUS consists of developing scientific activities through cooperation programmes in many of the countries of interest, even where no, or little, recent scientific academic cooperation existed, such as in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In 2010, about one-third of the DARIUS projects target Central Asian objectives because several regions of this vast area are of importance in terms of academic and oil interests. This area is our priority for the next years.
The phase of intensive data acquisition will last 2-3 years after which syntheses will be developed via regional or thematic DARIUS Working Groups. These will comprise DARIUS participants as well as other regional and thematic specialists. Each Working Group will produce a synthesis, integrating the newly acquired DARIUS project datasets, as well as other published data by the end of the Programme.
When the Programme ends in 2012-2013, the DARIUS participants will publish their results in several special issues of international journals. The final objective of DARIUS will also be realized through a set of 17 paleotectonic maps of the Middle East – Central Asia domain (at a scale of 1/18 000 000). These palinspastic maps, ranging in age from Late Palaeozoic to Pliocene, will take the MEBE paleotectonic maps as their basis. Last, and certainly not least, the GeolIS Database, built during the MEBE Programme, will be further developed and updated with all the new information gathered by DARIUS.
In this DARIUS News 1, you will find general information about the Programme, as well as articles dealing with various aspects of DARIUS, including overviews of seven of the main topics of DARIUS, concerning: the Black Sea-Caucasus domain, Anatolia, Zagros, Central Iran, Central Asia, Lithospheric Modelling, and GeolIS databases.
After the next 3-4 years of hard work, we expect that the results of the DARIUS Programme will form a major contribution to new interpretations and debates regarding the evolution of the Middle East - Central Asia region.

E. Barrier, M.-F. Brunet, R. Stephenson


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