Geoscientists, Researchers Gather in UBD for Inaugural ICES 2017
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Universiti Brunei Darussalam's (UBD) Faculty of Science (FOS) kicked off the 1st International Congress on Earth Sciences (ICES) in Southeast Asia on 15th November 2017, bringing together over 200 geoscientists and researchers to share and exchange ideas through the presentation of recent advances in Earth Sciences.

Dr Basilios Tsikouras, Senior Assistant Professor and Deputy Dean (Academic) of FOS said in his welcoming remarks that the Congress is an opportunity to extend UBD's international networking and enhance its connections and collaborations with foreign universities and institutes. He shared how today's society relies on earth's resources and sustainable development, which is often challenged by human activities, must be the goal. "This Congress aims to foster interdisciplinary collaborations and exchange of idea," he said. "I am convicted that this synergy in the areas of Earth Sciences can only be positive and beneficial for all sides.

UBD's Vice Chancellor Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz said during the opening ceremony that the Congress is of particular relevance to the region as some of the most important mineral, ore and gem deposits in the world as sited in Southeast Asia, including the oil and gas reserves in Brunei Darussalam. "The repercussions of the heavy exploitation of these resources to sustain the kind of lifestyle that the developed world has come to depend on is something that we must continue to discuss," she added. "Geoscientists play a fundamental role in the sustainable development and the restoration and protection of the natural world during and after the exploitation of earth's resources."

She also pointed out the importance of contributions of scholars, researchers and stakeholders in a time where there are increasingly large-scale consequences from the careless management of resources which include natural disasters, water pollution and climate change among others. "Now more than ever, it is crucial that new approaches and policies arising out of hard empirical data and rigorous research be applied to understand, mitigate and alleviate the consequences of careless and unsustainable practices," she said. "As we grow our individual and institutional networks, we also draw on the pooled and shared resources, material and intellectual which are crucial to making real progress in this field. I hope the Congress will stimulate scientific debate and further research."

Professor Robert Hall, Director of the Southeast Asia Research Group at Royal Holloway University of London, UK presented the first plenary lecture of the Congress with "Borneo Tectonics: Subduction, Collision, Rotation and Extension?". Industry representative from Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), Gijs Holstege then later delivered a talk on the most recent developments in the petroleum industry, helping to answer the question "Is There a Future for Exploration?"

Other highly respected keynote speakers include Professors Federica Zaccarini and Giorgio Garuti, both from Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria who presented "Platinum Group Elements and Chromite Mineralisation in Ophiolies: An Overview" and "Petrogenetic Evolution of Uraliam-Alaskan-type mafic-ultramafic complexes" respectively. Professor Peter Baumgartner from Université de Lausanne, Switzerland presented "Panthalassa and Neotethys: Two Giant Oceans Facing the Break-up of Pangea - Mesozoic Ocean History and Circulation".

Over 200 participants from more than 30 countries including regions from Asia, Europe and Africa attended the four-day Congress. They presented research from a wide range of topics including Petroleum Geology, Mineral Resources and Environmental Issues. Among those participants, 33 UBD students presented their findings in the Congress. Poster presentations including ePosters, workshops, exhibits, and unconference discussions were designed to interactively bring the Earth Science community closer.

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