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Report from the 17th International Conference on Thermochronology
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  • Richard A Ketcham,
  • Marissa Tremblay,
  • Alyssa Abbey,
  • Jaclyn Baughman,
  • Emily Cooperdock,
  • Gilby Jepson,
  • Kendra Murray,
  • Margaret Odlum,
  • Jessica Stanley,
  • Olivia Thurston
Richard A Ketcham
University of Texas at Austin
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Marissa Tremblay
Purdue University
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Alyssa Abbey
California State University, Long Beach
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Jaclyn Baughman
California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt
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Emily Cooperdock
University of Southern California
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Gilby Jepson
University of Arizona
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Kendra Murray
Idaho State University
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Margaret Odlum
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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Jessica Stanley
University of Idaho
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Olivia Thurston
Indiana University at Bloomington
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The 17th International Conference on Thermochronology (Thermo2021) was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 12-17, 2021. This bi-annual conference series evolved via the coalescence of the International Workshops on Fission Track Thermochronology, held since 1978, and the European Workshops on Thermochronology. It has become the premier forum for thermochronology practitioners and users to discuss fundamental and methodological topics and opportunities related to their science and its future. Each conference is independently organized, and a Standing Committee consisting of past organizers and other community members helps to ensure their continuation into the future. Thermo2021 was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally the meeting would have been expected to draw ~250 attendees, but travel restrictions limited in-person attendance to 86, plus 21 remote presenters. Nearly all in-person participants were from the US, and only four were international. Talks and posters were distributed among five themes: (U-Th)/He; fission track; other thermochronometers; frontiers in data handling, statistics, interpretation methods, and modeling; and integration and interpretation. Although COVID-19 presented many challenges, it also allowed the Organizing Committee to adapt creatively and transform adversity into opportunity. In particular, the smaller number of attendees permitted more talks by students and early-career scientists, both within the theme sessions and in the Charles & Nancy Naeser Early Career Session. Discussion time was prioritized: at a Tuesday evening “swap meet” for ideas, in 30-40-minute time slots within each theme session, and in Friday afternoon breakouts for the first four themes and another dedicated to early career and DEI issues. These were used to identify emergent ideas and concerns across a broad range of topics, from the theory and practice of the various thermochronometric techniques, to their interpretation through thermal history modeling and other methods, to anticipated trends in data dissemination and management, to the needs of the next generation of thermochronologists, particularly in the US. Each Friday breakout designated a scribe who recorded the discussion and distributed their notes. Each group then designated one or more writers to transform the notes into text for this White Paper. Notes or early write-up versions were provided to the international thermochronology community, and feedback solicited. In addition, cross-cutting themes that occurred across multiple breakout groups were identified and compiled. This White Paper is the outcome of these efforts. We hope that it will serve as a record for the meeting, and an overview of where the predominantly US-based component of the thermochronology community considers the current state of knowledge to be and where future efforts should be directed, for developing both the science and its human infrastructure.