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Karst Record Conference (KR8)

A KR8 attendee looks for salamanders during a conference trip to Barton Springs.

The Karst Record Conference, a fourday, international conference dedicated to sharing the latest progress in cavebased paleoclimate research, convened at the Jackson School of Geosciences on May 21-24, 2017.

Jay Banner, the director of the Jackson School’s Environmental Science Institute, and Kathleen Johnson, a professor at the University of California Irvine, hosted the conference, called KR8 for short. The program included three full days of oral and poster
presentations, and mid-conference workshops. The 115 attendees came from 18 countries and 18 U.S. states.

Caves form in karst — a geological term for landscapes made up of rocks that are easily eroded by water, such as limestone and dolomite, and form underground drainage features, like caves and sinkholes. With that in mind, the karst landscape of the Texas Hill Country was an ideal locale to hold a conference dedicated in large part to sharing the latest research on how stalactites, stalagmites and other speleothems are used to study ancient climates.

Optional field trips to Inner Space Cavern, Natural Bridge Caverns, Barton Springs and West Cave gave conference attendees the option to see some of the most famous karst features of Central Texas during their stay. Sarah Truebe, Director of Community Engaged Learning in Environmental Sustainability at Stanford University, enjoyed the midconference trip to Barton Springs — a trip that included a tour led by a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist and an option to take a dip in the main pool— but was excited for the next day of scientific talks back at campus.

“So far, every talk has something interesting,” she said.