Paleontological expedition to the future UNESCO Geopark in Kyrgyzstan, August 2021

UNESCO Natural Heritage – “Golden Spike” – Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs) between Bashkirian stage and Lower Moscovian substage in Turkestan – Alai (South Tien-Shan)

We invite you to take part in a paleontological expedition to the South Tien Shan in August 2021. The expedition is organized jointly with the Tien-Shan Geological Society.

Kyrgyzstan is actively involved in the development of Geoparks. The country occupies almost the entire western part of the Tien-Shan, with a huge potential for the development of geoparks and geological tourism.

The Tien-Shan has a long geological history, starting with the Proterozoic and ending with modern Quaternary rock deposits.
The Geopark is an excellent opportunity for international collaboration between specialists in stratigraphy, paleontology, and geology in general.

Upper Paleozoic deposits occupy a special place in the geological sections of the Southern Tien-Shan. According to geologists who have devoted themselves to the study of Central Asia, these sections can claim to be global reference stratotypes. At the same time, the border between the Bashkirian and Moscovian geological stages of the Carboniferous period in the southwestern Tien-Shan may become a place for a new “Golden Spike”.

The main merit and research results belong to a group of scientists led by Dr. A.V. DZHENCHURAEVA from the National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan.

In this regard, we want to organize a joint international expedition in order to obtain an extended opinion of international experts, and to obtain official international recognition of the international commission on stratigraphy.

The main results of the studies of foraminifera and stratigraphy of the Middle Carboniferous deposits of the high foothills of the Turkestan-Alai of the Southern Tien-Shan are as follows:
1. A detailed biostratigraphy scheme for the Bashkirian and lower half of the Moscovian substage has been created. According to this scheme, the Bashkirian Stage is subdivided into seven Foraminiferal zones: the Plectostaffella bogdanovkensis Zone, the Plectostaffella seslavica – Semistaffella inconstans Zone, the Pseudostaffella antiqua Zone, the Pseudostaffella praegorskyi Zone, the Profusulinella tidalwormihonovichi zoniella sp. The Moscovian substage, the lower substage is subdivided into three zones: the Aljutovella aljutovica – Eofusulina triangula Zone, the Priscoidella priscoidea Zone, and the Pulchrella subpulchra – Moellerites bedakensis Zone.
2. Identified species-indexes (markers) for drawing the interlayer boundary between the deposits of the Bashkir and Moscow stages in the South Tien-Shan. The highlighted markers will help to establish the “Golden Spike” in the geochronological timeline.

Justification of the border between the Bashkirian stage and Moscovian Substage in the Southern Tien-Shan

At present, the International Working Group on the selection and substantiation of the GSSP of the lower boundary of the Moscovian Substage of the International Stratigraphic Scale (ISS) is working to identify species-markers of this boundary in stratotypic sections, as well as in areas where deposits of the Bashkir and Moscow stages are fully represented.

In this regard, an analysis was carried out of the border Bashkir-Moscovian foraminiferal assemblages in the Southern Tien-Shan. As a result of the analysis, it was found that the representatives of the evolutionary lines Tikhonovichiella tikhonovichi – Aljutovella aljutovica, Verella spicata – Eofusulina triangula, Depratina praeprisca – D. prisca are the most important for substantiating this boundary. This boundary is characterized by the simultaneous appearance in the upper zone of the Bashkirian stage of the species Verella spicata, Tikhonovichiella tikhonovichi, and Depratina praeprisca, and since the beginning of the Moscovian Age, Eofusulina triangula, Aljutovella aljutovica, and Depratina prisca. This situation is observed in all five sections studied. In some other regions of the world – Turkey, Spain, Donbass, the level of the boundary between the Bashkir and Moscow stages is similar to that in the Southern Tien-Shan. There, this border is also drawn according to the joint appearance of the species Eofusulina triangula, Aljutovella aljutovica, Depratina prisca.

However, in the stratotype sections of the Moscovian syneclise, representatives of the evolutionary lines Tikhonovichiella tikhonovichi – Aljutovella aljutovica and Depratina praeprisca – Depratina prisca are present, but representatives of the line Verella spicata – Eofusulina triangula are absent. A similar situation can be traced in the Southern Urals, where the beginning of the Moscovian Stage is established by the appearance of the species Aljutovella aljutovica and Depratina prisca, where representatives of the line Verella spicata – Eofusulina triangula are also absent.

Considering that the stratotype of the Bashkirian stage is located in the Urals, and the Moscovian stratum is located in the Moscow region and there are no verellas or eofusulin there, apparently, this evolutionary line cannot have a correlation potential comparable to the species Aljutovella aljutovica and Depratina prisca. So, one of these two species Aljutovella aljutovica or Depratina prisca can be used as a marker of the lower boundary of the Moscovian Stage. For the Tien-Shan, along with the marker species, representatives of the evolutionary line Verella spicata – Eofusulina triangula will undoubtedly play a large correlation role.

As a result of studying the Bashkir-Moscovian deposits in Turkestan-Alai (South Tien-Shan), it was found that:
1. Carbonate sedimentation continued throughout the Bashkir-Moscovian time;
2. A detailed study of the distribution of foraminifera along 5 studied sections made it possible to establish 6 foraminiferal zones in the Bashkirian: Plectostaffella bogdanovkensis, Plectostaffella seslavica – Semistaffella inconstans, Pseudostaffella antiqua, Pseudostaffella praegorskyi, Profuszulinella spitiva, O. Aljutovella aljutovica, Aljutovella priscoidea, Fusulinella subpulchra.
3. Analysis of foraminiferal zones of the boundary Bashkir-Moscovian interval made it possible to establish three evolutionary lines of species development: Verella spicata –Eofusulina triangula, Depratina praeprisca –D. prisca and Tikhonovichiella tikhonovichi, all of which were identified in the Southern Tien-Shan. However, for world marker species we recommend only the last two lines, Depratina praeprisca –D. prisca and Tikhonovichiella tikhonovichi.

The last biostratigraphic scheme for the Carboniferous of Kyrgyzstan was compiled in 1990 during the implementation of the project “Compilation of regional stratigraphic schemes of the Precambrian and Paleozoic of Kyrgyzstan. The biostratigraphic scheme was drawn up according to the definitions of fossil fossils of orthostratigraphic groups – foraminifera, conodonts and brachiopods. These fossil remains were found, identified and described from the reference sections “Gaz”, “Akhuntau”, “Kshemysh”, “Khojatush”, “Garaty” located in the Alai and Turkestan ridges of the South Tien-Shan. Based on the study of foraminifera and conodonts in these sections, a scheme of subdivision of the Lower – Middle Carboniferous was developed. The Upper Carboniferous was studied using foraminifers from the reference sections of the Karachatyr Ridge of the Southern Tien-Shan.

The proposed biostratigraphic scheme was correlated with similar schemes in other regions of Central Asia. This scheme was supposed to be approved at a meeting of the Regional Interdepartmental Stratigraphic Committee (RISC), but due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, this committee ceased to exist. Therefore, in our further work, we used this biostratigraphic scheme in an unapproved version.
However, further work on the study of the Carboniferous of the Middle Tien-Shan (reference sections “Akbeit”, “Kodzhagul”, “Ichke”) made it possible to obtain new materials that made adjustments to the existing biostratigraphic scheme.

In the northeastern part of the Northern Tien-Shan, reference carbonate sections (“Boordu”, “Tekes”, “Tyup”) were also studied, which made it possible to supplement the characteristics of the Middle Carboniferous of the biostratigraphic scheme.
In addition, the study of the tier boundaries in the Carboniferous of the world, which began in recent years, with the aim of staking them out with “golden nails”, made it possible to attract this huge material for solving this issue.
All this led to our research on the paleontological substantiation of the biostratigraphic scheme of the Carboniferous of Kyrgyzstan.

Thus, we argue that the reference stratigraphic boundary between the Bashkirian and Moscovian stages and the Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points is in the southern Tien-Shan of Kyrgyzstan.

Expedition objectives:
Research and obtaining materials on the geological heritage to justify the nomination dossier for the inclusion of the geological sections “Gas” and “Akhuntau” in the preliminary list of the world natural heritage. Confirm that the geological sections belong to the international stratigraphic standard-standard for the lower boundary of the Moscovian Stage of the Upper Carboniferous or the Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points,

  • – Reconstruction of geological history,
    – Use modern methods for a detailed study of the stratigraphic boundary between the Bashkirian stage and Lower Moscovian substage of the Carboniferous period,
    – The markers research,
    – Substantiation of the world-standard stratigraphic boundary between the Bashkirian and Moscovian stages,
    – Obtaining reliable data for the advancement of stratigraphic sections of sediments as a stratotype (standard),
    – An important goal of the expedition is to confirm the uniqueness of geological sections as custodians of the international stratigraphic reference standard in the Southern Tien-Shan,
    – To receive recognition from the international geological community.

Expedition program:
We invite everyone to cooperation and joint research. An international expedition is scheduled for August 2021. Further research will continue for several years in order to obtain representative materials to substantiate the stratigraphic boundary.

The results of other studies will be very useful and necessary for the creation of a geological museum on the territory of the future Geopark.

We want to receive materials for joint publications in world scientific journals.
We will welcome all interested paleontologists, biologists, geologists and others.

  • Expedition duration – 20 days
    Days 1 – 2. Meeting at the Osh or Bishkek airport.
    Briefing, discussion, acquaintance.
    Day 3. Drive to the field camp.
    Days 4 – 18. Research in the vicinity of geological sections and on the territory of the Geopark
    Day 19. Return to Osh or Bishkek
    Day 20. Bishkek – airport.

Organization of the expedition
Currently, the Geological Society encourages sponsors to cooperate. Business and international organizations can participate in funding scientific and applied research in the future UNESCO Geopark.

We would be delighted to welcome scientific centers, associations or individual researchers willing to participate in scientific research.

The expenses for participation in the field expedition will be used for renting transport, purchasing food, paying for the cook and technical staff of the field camp, and consumables for the life support of the expedition. And also for accommodation in hotels, guest houses and a field camp.

The GeoExplorersClub company together with the Tien-Shan Geological Society, will provide the participants of the applied scientific expedition and subsequent research with all the necessary conditions for field work.

– We will provide the field camp for scientists with the necessary equipment: tents, kitchens, laboratory tents, shower, toilet, electricity, etc.
– We will provide visa support,
– We will receive all official permits for research and sampling,
– We will provide the necessary logistics, meeting at the airport, etc.

We will create a good and friendly environment for joint research.

Those who wish to take part in the expedition can report their participation to the secretariat by e-mail: 

Welcome to the southern Tien-Shan!