AMQUA meets its goals by sponsoring meetings, field trips, and publications. AMQUA's biennial meeting is built around a symposium topic with broad interest to as many constituent groups within AMQUA as possible. Theme topics have included "Hot and Cold Deserts During the Last Glaciation," "The Ice-Free Corridor and the Peopling of the New World," "Seasonal Climatic Responses in the Quaternary," "Rapid Change in the Quaternary," and "Global Warming: Interglacials, Interstadials, Climatic Optima, and Other Events." The meetings therefore draw together individuals from various disciplines who have an interest in the topic or time period. Efforts are made to make the program of invited speakers and discussions truly interdisciplinary and integrative. During the meetings members can present posters on their Quaternary investigations unrelated to the meeting theme. Field trips are also a regular part of the meetings. AMQUA meetings are open to the general public.

AMQUA also encourages participation in the worldwide activities of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA). INQUA's mission parallels that of AMQUA, but on a worldwide scale, namely to encourage interdisciplinary study and to facilitate international cooperation on problems of the Quaternary Period. AMQUA members are prime candidates for the U.S. National Committee for INQUA, which oversees official U.S. participation in INQUA Congresses, held every four years.

AMQUA publishes a newsletter, The Quaternary Times, twice yearly. The newsletter contains information about AMQUA activities, as well as news from the membership, publications and meetings, and any other news pertaining to Quaternary research. Quaternary Research, the premiere journal for Quaternary studies, is an unofficial publication outlet for AMQUA.

Other AMQUA activities include publishing a membership list and presenting the Distinguished Career Award annually. Student participation in AMQUA and in Quaternary research is strongly encouraged. Competitive travel grants are available for students to attend the biennial meeting and present research work in a poster format. AMQUA also presents the biennial Denise Gaudreau Award for Excellence in Quaternary Studies to an aspiring female Quaternary scientist within two years of completing her Ph.D.