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    The theme of the XX INQUA CONGRESS

    The Theme of the XX INQUA CongressThe XXI Congress will focus on “a Mediterranean perspective on Quaternary Sciences”, to highlight the extreme relevance that Quaternary disciplines have in geologically-active and environmentally-critical regions.The Mediterranean, from the Latin Medius Terraneus, etymologically means in between the land, and it is in fact a region squeezed between the colliding African and European plates.This geodynamic setting drove an extremely fast morphological evolution that, during the last 2.58 million years, interacted with the environmental and geographical changes due to climatic and eustatic cycles. Such natural processes of landscape and environmental dynamics at Quaternary scale, then become geohazards at human scale as they threaten society with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, aridification and coastline retreat. The Mediterranean bridges diverse ecosystems, spanning from subtropical desert to temperate woodland, highaltitude tundra and glaciers. It’s a place of dramatic transition, where the changes through time superimpose and interact with significant transition in space (Africa to Europe, eastern Atlantic to western Asia), creating a variety of landscape and deposits. In particular, Mediterranean Cryosphere represent one of the most important climate and environmental monitor of the past and present climatic changes and is strongly impacted by human activities. The rich Quaternary fossil record provide clues for inferring factors that might have caused and controlled dispersals, diffusion and settlement of human populations along its coast, whose position was deeply changing because of glacio-eustasy.The geological diversity is paralleled by marked economical and societal diversity. But all of us share similar problems that pose severe challenges to the future, such as an intense land use (and abuse) that often conflicts with natural processes of landscape change. Science, and Quaternary Science above all, is surely a fruitful field where the exchange of experience and knowledge between the shores of a sea (of any sea) will promote a better management of natural resources and hazards, as well as a wide integration of the scientific communities studying them.