EGU General Assembly 2020
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Refining geodiversity variables for monitoring global mining

Harry Seijmonsbergen, Joe McMeekin, Eline Rentier, Emma Polman, and Kenneth Rijsdijk
Harry Seijmonsbergen et al.
  • University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Biogeography and Macroecology, Amsterdam, Netherlands (

Within a few hundred years, mining has changed from a traditional, low impact, local and regional extraction activity to a global industry that is responsible for the conversion of most natural landscapes into man-made (agri)cultural/urban landscapes. The irreversible extraction of specific geological and geomorphological resources has immensely impacted global scale geodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Although geodiversity is vitally important for global sustainability, this is not reflected in international policy, conservation and management, possibly due to a lack of harmonized, transparent and easy to measure science-based geodiversity indicators. We use two case studies on sand and phosphate mining to identify their drivers, pressures, state and impact on the environment to demonstrate how geodiversity variables can be used to raise awareness and to respond adequately. Sand provides society with important benefits, specifically through the provisioning of raw materials for use in construction, although extraction volumes are largely unknown. Phosphate has essential value for global food security as modern agriculture heavily depends upon phosphate fertilizers, but concerns have been raised suggesting potential depletion of rock phosphate in the near future. Sand and phosphate mining are in high demand, have associated scarcity concerns, are unevenly distributed on a global scale, and their extraction has numerous (unexpected) environmental and societal impacts. These examples demonstrate the need for monitoring and management of mining activities on global scales, in order to adequately respond to the effects of extraction of these resources. We provide refinements to the existing geodiversity variables related to geology and geomorphology and present opportunities to monitor their global geodiversity dynamics using remote sensing technology. Such data can support the improvement of global datasets on mining, and provide a pathway towards international recognition of geodiversity variables.

How to cite: Seijmonsbergen, H., McMeekin, J., Rentier, E., Polman, E., and Rijsdijk, K.: Refining geodiversity variables for monitoring global mining, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1699,, 2019


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  • CC1: Bakony-Balaton, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

    Thank you for sharing the presentation. I am looking forward for the chat.

    Do you know more about the Bakony-Balaton geopark? I used to spend vacations at Balaton as my grandmother's sister had a holiday flat there. It was in Balatonakarattya, which has indeed a high lake shore, which might be geologically interesting, as a colleague, geologist, from Budapest told me. He was doing bike tours with students there. I would have loved to see in this session more about geoheritage then geodiversity, so a geopark is right and is one of the few I might have seen, if I knew the limits. (there is also a facebook group for protecting Balaton heritage, so geoheritage might be someting from them: Balaton értékmentés).

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Arie Christoffel Seijmonsbergen, 03 May 2020

      Hi Maria,

      Thanks for your kind remark! I agree that geoheritage is of importance for all Geoparks. Perhaps some interesting information on this Geopark can be extracted from these papers:

      Best, Harry Seijmonsbergen

      • CC3: Reply to AC1, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 03 May 2020

        Hi Harry,

        thank you very much! WOW, Csopak, where there are the headquarters, is even close to Balatonfüred, which is very rich in architecture, I wrote an article about this following a workshop on resort architecture, and to Balatonalmády, where I've also been. On the other hand, I did not know that Herend and Zirc are in the mountains. Herend has another kind of heritage, there is a porcelain factory there. Zirc is known for a baroque monastery. It is nice to see how different heritage combines. Yes, there is also food in this geoheritage, ex. lecsó festival, which is a rather Danube Swabian food.

        However, one of the streets at Balatonakarttya has been featured as the most beautiful, it goes on the cliff. You can see it here:

        I was myself walking on it, almost 10 years ago (2011), but also in august

        Unfortunately we sold, so not going there anymore, but who knows, maybe in normal accomodation one day.

  • CC2: Comment on EGU2020-1699, Irene Maria Bollati, 03 May 2020

    Thank you Harry for your interesting "speach".

    We found similar impact on river morphology along some Italian rivers due to gravel extraction. After a strict regulation the rivers are gradually following a width-increasing trend. These kinds of impact should be monitored respect to geodiversity conservation.

    Best regards


    • AC2: Reply to CC2, Arie Christoffel Seijmonsbergen, 03 May 2020

      Hi Irene, thanks for your comment. Interesting to learn; I guess this river behavior is occurring a lot across many landscapes, in braiding,meandering and combined river types. Would be interesting to follow indeed from a geodiversity perspective! I guess remote sensing-based monitoring could help out here. Best, Harry

  • CC4: mine flowers, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 06 May 2020

    I am sending in connection to the mining sites in Romania the museum in Baia Mare (Maramures) which can be found at and which contains so called "flori de mina", interesting from a geodiversity point of view. Are there similar ones in other places? wikipedia has no translation to mine flowers.

    Also what I wrote in the chat on Rosia Montana proposed for UNESCO heritage is a natural area with the gold mine tunels from the Romans.