Establishing a Swiss-Kazakh collaboration for teaching and research studies on the Cenozoic paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental record of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, being among the largest countries in the world, occupies a wide territory from Eastern Europe to China. The rich geological history and unique (paleo)geographic location of Kazakhstan provide an outstanding opportunity for investigating different aspects of Earth history, including climate evolution, desertification of Eurasia, history and development of vertebrate faunas. The main part of geological research has been done in the second half of the 20th century. Following the independence of Kazakhstan in 1991, international collaborations started to develop. Despite the rich Cenozoic recort, previous geological studies unearthed only a small part of the country’s potential in paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic studies.

The present project aims at launching a collaboration between JURASSICA Museum (Porrentruy, Switzerland) and Nazarbayev University (Astana, Kazakhstan), which will use the potential of both newly established institutions as a basis for a long-term cooperation in the fields paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic studies, as well as for developing a teaching of excellence in paleontology at Nazarbayev University.

The staff of JURASSICA includes researchers in the field of Cenozoic continental vertebrates, which are also lecturers at University of Fribourg in paleontology and geology. Being a newly established educational institution, Nazarbayev University, in particular the School of Mining and Geosciences, is seeking international collaborations to support newly established undergraduate programs, and, in that respect, could profit from the teaching experience of the staff of JURASSICA. The team of paleontologists from JURASSICA would contribute to establish a reference teaching collection of fossil material at Nazarbayev University, as well as to train students for collecting fossil material in the field.

Within the present project, we define two objectives which include the collection of:

  1. robust preliminary data for future project application at the SNF,
  2. fossils of different groups of plants and animals from different geological epochs for building a teaching collection for the School of Mining and Geosciences at Nazarbaev University.

The envisioned field trips are planned in the areas with Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits. In these areas potention for future collaborative project will be assessed as well as fossil teaching paleontological collection at Nazarbayev University will be collected. The field trips will be conducted by a group of lecturers (DV and LR) and a group of undergraduate students. The students will be guided in the field and trained for collecting and preparing the fossil material.


Dr. Davit Vassilyan, Jurassica Museum, Porrentruy, Switzerland

Ass. Prof. Laurent Richard, Nazarbayev University