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Episodes 2013; 36(1): 58-65

Published online March 1, 2013


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

The 28th International Geological Congress, Washington, 1989

Clifford M. Nelson

U.S. Geological Survey, 950 National Center, Reston, VA 20192-0001, USA. E-mail: cnelson@usgs.gov

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The 28th International Geological Congress (IGC) met from 9 to 19 August 1989 in Washington, District of Columbia, the site of the 5th (1891) and 16th (1933) IGCs. More than 6,000 persons, from the United States of America (USA) and 103 other countries, came to Washington for the 28th IGC, thirteen of them having previously attended the 16th IGC. The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences acted as the principal hosts, in cooperation with thirty scientific societies and seven industrial organizations. As sponsors, 115 organizations and five individuals provided financial support. The fourteen themes of the 360 scientific and technical sessions, and ninety poster-paper sessions, included aspects of the dynamic Earth in space and time, mathematical geology, and comparative planetology. Two half-day colloquia of invited presentations provided a planetary perspective on the Apollo lunar-landing program and the Earth’s natural resources. Invited speakers in a late-afternoon series of plenary sessions gave forty-five-minute overviews of the international programs for the decade of natural disaster reduction, geological correlation, geosphere–biosphere, lithosphere, ocean drilling, and sedimentary geology. Two hundred and thirty-three exhibitors, from twenty-six countries, presented displays. Other activities included a Youth Congress, evening lectures and receptions, local tours, institutional exhibits, and an all-member evening picnic on the Mall on 18 July. Innovations included poster-paper sessions, an extensive program of short courses and workshops, the Gazette (a daily newspaper), and a field trip to Antarctica (in January 1989). One hundred and three additional field excursions, held before, during, or after the 28th IGC and each with a guidebook, took participants to geologically diverse parts of the USA, Antarctica, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Congress’s general-proceedings volume appeared in 1990. Surplus moneys from the Congress provided a foundation for a ‘28th IGC Fund’, managed by the Geological Society of America Foundation, principally to support attendance at future IGCs and the preparation of the next IGC held in the USA.