The Quaternary Period spans the last 2.6 million years of the Earth's history. The Quaternary is an interval with dramatic and frequent changes in global climate. Warm interglacials alternated with cold ice ages. Today the Earth is entering a time of unusually warm climate. Significant and potentially rapid environmental changes could pose major challenges for human habitability. The expertise of Quaternary scientists is to interpret the changing world of the glacial ages and their impact on our planet's surface environments. Quaternary palaeoclimatic investigations play a key role in the understanding of the possible future climate change on our planet. Stratigraphy and chronology provide the basic foundation for the reconstruction of events during the period.
The Stratigraphy and Geochronology Commission of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA – SACCOM) is devoted to the study of the Quaternary Period through Quaternary stratigraphy and chronology. It provides a forum for Quaternary scientists to discuss and establish stratigraphical investigations and classification throughout the World. It seeks to achieve this through the organisation of regular meetings, publications and publicity. In addition a network of Focus Groups with specific mandates are established under the auspices of the Commission.
SACCOM exists to promote and co-ordinate international co-operation and integration by:
the establishment and publication of a geological time-scale for the Quaternary,
the unification of regional and national chronostratigraphical nomenclature,
the promotion of stratigraphical methods, and the dissemination of stratigraphical knowledge,
the evaluation of new stratigraphical methods and their integration into a multidisciplinary stratigraphy, and
the definition of principles of stratigraphical classification, terminology and procedure and their publication.
SACCOM scientific activities are carried out through projects, websites, publications and meetings, particularly through focus groups dedicated to the investigation of specific areas of the discipline, through collaboration with other INQUA Commissions, and outside organisations.