We typically conduct collaborative work with our Chinese colleagues, extending from the field to the office and the laboratory. The number of contacts and depth of our joint experiences probably distinguishes us from similar projects in other fields of research that do not require extended backcountry travel and occasional strenuous physical work together.
We commonly spend two to four weeks in the Chinese backcountry each year in groups of 5 to 10 scientists and students. The objective of these research expeditions is to document, examine closely and sample first-hand these strata which record the massive environmental and ecological changes at the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary. We typically try to work in the spring in order to avoid inclement weather. Even though we attempt to stay as close as possible to the sections to be studied, daily drives of several hours each way are the order. China is an extremely safe country. Our colleagues obtain the necessary permits, handle all the logistics and reliably order those food items that they know we Europeans like.
In Europe, we commonly pursue an integrated approach to solve research questions which can be shown at many outstanding, easily accessible and thoroughly documented geosites. For field excursions in Europe on topics of joint interest, we do the logistics and guiding, our Chinese colleagues take samples and ask the questions.