In November, 1976, a landmark symposium entitled, the International Symposium on the Interactions between Sediments and Freshwater, was held in Amsterdam.

In 1978 at the Jerusalem meeting of the International Association of Sedimentology (IAS) a group of environmental earth scientists observed that sediment-related sessions were being held in many major congresses and conferences. They noted that these were poorly represented and attended in comparison with the Amsterdam Symposium.

In 1981, the 2nd International Symposium on the Interaction between Sediment and Freshwater was held in Kingston, Canada. A discussion was held in a Plenary Session on the desirability of continuing the symposium series on a tri-annual basis and on the need for a supporting infrastructure to ensure the continuity of the series. As such the International Association for Sediment Water Science (IASWS) was created with a formative Board of Directors and the official launch of the Association began with the 1984 Geneva Symposium.

During this symposium, bylaws were presented and adopted by the attendees and membership sales commenced. Subsequent successful symposiums have been held in Melbourne, Australia (1987), Uppsala, Sweden (1990), Santa Barbara, United States (1993), Baveno, Italy (1996), Beijing, China (1999), Banff, Canada (2002) and Lake Bled, Slovenia (2005) and Esperance, Australia (2008) and Dartington, United Kingdom (2011). The next symposium will be in 2014 at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa with the 2017 symposium provisionally identified for Italy. While both by-laws and the Board membership has changed over the years, the basic objectives for the IASWS have not wavered.


  • To promote, encourage and recognize excellence in scientific research related to sediments and their interactions with water and biota in fluvial, lacustrine and marine systems and with particular reference to problems of environmental concern; and
  • To bring together and foster collaborative research and dialogue between earth scientists, biologists, chemists and environmental engineers whose interests pertain to sediment-water interactions in all aquatic systems.



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