Visages of geodiversity: time-spatial scales, uncertainty of assessments, promotional activities


Visages of geodiversity: time-spatial scales, uncertainty of assessments, promotional activities
Co-organized by EOS5/BG2, co-sponsored by IAG
Convener: Zbigniew Zwoliński | Co-conveners: Irene Maria BollatiECSECS, Marco Giardino, Alicja NajwerECSECS, Franziska SchrodtECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Mon, 26 Apr, 15:30–17:00 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Mon, 26 Apr

Chairpersons: Irene Maria Bollati, Franziska Schrodt, Alicja Najwer
Concepts and Challanges in Geodiversity
José Brilha

The concept of geodiversity, despite being in use for almost 30 years, still has little impact on society. It is not easy to explain the reason for this dissociation, considering that the elements that constitute geodiversity are intrinsically part of nature, play an essential role in ecosystem services and, consequently, in human well-being.

During the last decade we have seen a great development in the interest of the geoscientific community in this subject, represented by the increase in the publication of papers and doctoral and master theses all over the world. One of the main challenges is now to transpose all this scientific knowledge into society. Obviously, theoretical and conceptual discussions about geodiversity are an integral part of science and must continue, but if we want that society recognizes the importance and value of geodiversity, we must be able to demonstrate clearly how geodiversity can help to solve some of the problems we face today.

Among other priorities, the geoscientific community has to be able to demonstrate in an structured way:

  • The importance of geodiversity in implementing nature conservation actions and its direct relationship with biodiversity;
  • The contribution of geodiversity for ecosystems restoration and its accounting as part of natural capital;
  • The need to quantify the role of geodiversity in ecosystem services;
  • The urgency of make environmental impact assessments including all possible effects that may affect geodiversity elements and processes;
  • The importance of integrate the concept of geodiversity in pre-university education curricula;
  • That the information and environmental interpretation provided to visitors of protected areas and other conservation areas should always include geodiversity.

Once the importance of geodiversity is fully recognized by policy-makers, managers, and the society in general, the fulfilment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be for sure closer than it is today.

How to cite: Brilha, J.: Challenges in the development of the geodiversity concept, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15619,, 2021.

Alizia Mantovani, Vincenzo Lombardo, and Marco Giardino

The concept of geoheritage took more and more relevance since the International Conference of Protection of Geological Heritage in 1991 (Martini, 1994). 

During these 30 years, many authors have been proposing their definitions of geoheritage. The analysis of these definitions highlights how the geoheritage concept is deeply connected with geodiversity and geoconservation. All the definitions tend to select geoheritage among the geodiversity elements that are worthy of inclusion into the geoconservation programs because of their value for humanity. The “relevance for humanity”, however, seems to diverge in the several definitions, in what are the values and the qualities that a geological feature should possess to be considered part of geological heritage. For example, the list of values proposed by Shaples (2002), including tourism and sense of place, differs from the list proposed by Brilha (2016), including values as economic and functional, and they both differ from the geosystem services approach by Gray (2013), where relevant values are also provisioning and regulation. Lately, Brilha (2018) stated that only the scientific value is a condition to include a geologic feature in the geologic heritage category. However, the definition of what this “scientific value” represents is not clear, as for the other values of the different lists provided by the various authors.

The result of this variety of definitions and qualities raises a high level of ambiguity, with the result that some geological features may be considered geoheritage by one author and not by another author.

The aim of this presentation is to analyze the definitions of geodiversity geoheritage and geoconservation and address the differences and similarities with a semantic approach. This is the first step of a wider research: we will address the state of the art to pursue a semantic characterization of definitions and their encoding into an ontological, machine-readable approach, with the aim to reduce the level of ambiguity of the above cited concepts. This research can lead to improve the knowledge about geodiversity and geoheritage and increase the transparency in the decision process for what concerns programs of geoconservation and institution of geosites or geoparks.


Brilha, J., 2016. Inventory and Quantitative Assessment of Geosites and Geodiversity Sites: a Review. Geoheritage 8, 119–134.

Gray, M., 2013. Geodiversity: Valuing and Conserving Abiotic Nature, 2nd ed. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, UK.

Martini, G. (Ed.), 1994. Actes du Premier Symposium international sur la protection du patrimoine géologique: Digne-les-Bains, 11-16 juin 1991. Sociètè Gèologique de France, Paris.

Sharples, Chris. (2002). Concepts and principles of geoconservation.



How to cite: Mantovani, A., Lombardo, V., and Giardino, M.: Geodiversity, Geoheritage, Geoconservation: a semantic challenge, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15820,, 2021.

Melinda McHenry

Though interpretations of the concept of geodiversity vary widely between the prominent researchers and practitioners of Australia, most agree that the definition is inclusive of abiotic elements (which can be detected spatially and assessed quantitatively), and their associated values (which can be used in reserve system planning, geotourism and to relate culture and nature to elements and functions). Challenges in Australian geodiversity assessment and representation are three-fold - there is lack of recognition of the concept across the nation, spatial datasets are incomplete or inadequate in some regions, and the spatial extent of some elements extends hundreds of kilometres whilst other potentially equally-significant elements occur at scales of tens of meters.

In this presentation, I present three case studies of Australian geodiversity. I first explore a regional interpretation of geodiversity, in a spatially-heterogenous protected area in Tasmania - a place that has myriad unique superlative natural values. I demonstrate that the delineation between elements of geodiversity is supported by a geological framework, that facilitates adequate rank comparisons of similar landforms and/or geological types across variable topography and vegetation communities. I then demonstrate the challenges associated with values-based assessment of geodiversity at this scale - that nearly all elements become regionally significant, there are many singular examples that cannot be adequately compared, and that the additional values associated with superlative landform elements may skew the spatial expression of more scientifically significant forms.

I then present two examples of state (similarity 'provincial') 'geodiversity site' (sensu Brilha 2016) inventories. One is extensively populated, is backed by expertise and universally-accepted criteria that dates back to the founding notions of geodiversity, but nominations are ad hoc and therefore a spatially-systematic ranked system has not been used. Conversely, in the other state example, inventory are systematically allocated on the basis of pre-established criteria - but this state is inherently far less spatially geodiverse than the former example, leading to a situation where the inventory entries of the latter would not be considered significant enough to warrant listing in the former.

Finally, I present some upcoming future challenges with national-level geodiversity assessment. I show the spatial extent and granularity of our four key national datasets (soils, geology, landform, topography). I present new data that shows the values associated with geodiversity elements that are recognised in IUCNIa-III reserve management plans across Australia. I demonstrate how the comparative dearth of spatial element complexity on the Australian mainland is at odds with the immensely heterogeneous state of Tasmania, and how this may in part have influenced prior thinking regarding the concept and its inherent value to conservation and society.

The 'Australian Geodiversity Assessment Challenge' raises questions about scale, territory, value, precision and representativeness - all of which are likely to be consistent with attempts to create a unified global geodiversity index or assessment approach. It is hoped that this presentation stimulates discussion among members, and informs the debate on the ways in which geodiversity elements and values can be evaluated at a range of spatial scales.

How to cite: McHenry, M.: Scale and Value: Challenges in the assessment and representation of geodiversity in Australia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7427,, 2021.

Kenneth F. Rijsdijk, Amalia Llano, Perry Cornelissen, Ashleigh Campbell, Stijn de Boer, Lukas P. Struiksma, Franciska T. de Vries, and A.C. Harry Seijmonsbergen

Rewilding is a novel way of managing nature reserves that involves minimal management with the aim to promote self-sustaining provisioning of ecosystem services. Trophic rewilding is an approach whereby a reserve facilitates both large herbivores such as bison and deer and top predators such as wolfs and bears. A famous example of trophic rewilding is Yellow Stone National Park (8983 km2) in the USA, this mountainous landscape hosts both large herbivores and large predators. In contrast, in The Netherlands the Oostvaardersplassen (55 km2) is a flat man-made marshland, hosting domestic large herbivores such as red deers and horses without large predators. The success of these rewilding schemes is generally quantitatively evaluated against biodiversity metrics, i.e. the increase of plant or bird species richness in an area. The role of the components in geodiversity that promote or demote success is underexposed. Therefore, we aim to investigate how the interaction between large herbivores and predators shape the landscape, in particular how they affect the geodiversity by changing the rate and extent of surface processes such as erosion at fine scales, the dynamics of floodplain morphology on broad scales, and the altering of soil physical and chemical properties. It has become apparent that the changes in components of geodiversity depend, amongst others, on the total number of large herbivores in an area. More grazers, for example, result in lower diversity of vegetation structural types, more compacted soils and increased erosion. Therefore, changes in grazer densities may alter the quality and areal extent of geodiversity components at multiple scales. Geodiversity components may thus affect the way large herbivores use and interact with the abiotic environment in reserves. For example, a topographically diverse landscape may host localities to shelter against harsh weather conditions, and function as safe spots against predators. Although the practise of rewilding has been implemented for several decades, it is not clear to what extent geodiversity influences rewilding success. Here, we evaluate how components of geodiversity affects rewilding success against an independent success metric, and we assess in what way geodiversity may help to identify the success or the limiting factors of potential rewilding reserves. To do this we use openly available thematic digitized spatial data to calculate a geodiversity index that includes geomorphology, topographic openness, roughness and soil diversity. We use an ArcGIS Pro environment of selected nature reserves that are managed under a rewilding regime. We include change analyses of multi temporal satellite and aerial imagery in combination with field measurements to assess how geodiversity components influence rewilding success. Ultimately, we design a geodiversity-based suitability workflow to evaluate potential successful rewilding reserves for highly fragmented landscapes such as in North Western Europe.

How to cite: Rijsdijk, K. F., Llano, A., Cornelissen, P., Campbell, A., de Boer, S., Struiksma, L. P., de Vries, F. T., and Seijmonsbergen, A. C. H.: Geodiversity of Rewilding, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12338,, 2021.

Zbigniew Zwoliński, Jose Brilha, Murray Gray, and Jack Matthews

On May 22, 2020, when International Biodiversity Day was celebrated, Murray Gray and Zbigniew Zwoliński independently wrote an email to José Brilha with a proposal to make efforts to establish the International Geodiversity Day (IGD). This was on the eve of the Oxford Geoheritage Virtual Conference (OxGVC) launch. Therefore, at the end of the conference, a declaration of establishing the IGD was prepared, which was supported by over 600 participants from over 60 countries. Virtual PICO presents further and ongoing scientific, organizational and diplomatic efforts to proclaim the IGD: starting from the Oxford Declaration, through letters of support from 108 individuals and international and national professional earth science nature conservation organizations and the International Union of Geological Sciences to Natural Sciences Sector – Division for Earth and Ecological Sciences UNESCO and Executive Board of UNESCO.

The proclamation of an International Geodiversity Day would provide an annual reminder of the essential role of geodiversity for human well-being. It provides the foundations and habitats for all living things. It is the source of materials that build our towns and cities; it provides our energy resources, including renewable energy and the materials mined to manufacture wind turbines and solar panels; it allows us to bury our waste, provides us with freshwater and attenuates our pollution; it helps us to understand and predict natural hazards, it inspires our artists and provides us with incredible landscapes from mountains to coasts. Geodiversity gives us evidence of past climate and landscape changes and their causes, and therefore helps us to understand and plan for the impacts of future environmental changes.

How to cite: Zwoliński, Z., Brilha, J., Gray, M., and Matthews, J.: Initiative to establish the International Geodiversity Day, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13977,, 2021.

Geodiversity assessments
Alex G Neches

The quantification and mapping of geodiversity have gained more interest in recent years due to practical application in natural resource management and conservation. The Geological Index (IGeo) represents the quantitative expression of geological features and is part of a broader Geodiversity Index (IGeodiv), which also includes geomorphological, pedological, paleontological and hydrological elements.

In Scotland, the area delimited by the Moine Thrust Zone to the northwest and the Highland Boundary Fault to the southeast represents a fragment of the Caledonian orogenic belt that extends across parts of North America, Greenland and Scandinavia. It includes the Highlands, most of the Inner Hebrides and the islands of Orkney and Shetland. The area is underlain by two tectonic blocks – the Northern Highlands Terrane and the Grampian Terrane – separated by a major strike-slip fault, the Great Glen. Both blocks consist of an Archaean-Paleoproterozoic basement covered by the Neoproterozoic metamorphic suites of the Moine and Dalradian Supergroups, together with a series of magmatic intrusions and other rocks of late Precambrian and Phanerozoic age.

The IGeo was obtained from lithostratigraphic and lithodemic units, mapped at group and suite/complex level respectively, major geologic contacts and faults and minor igneous intrusions from the British Geological Survey 1:625k digital datasets. These were reclassified and analyzed using QGIS and ArcGIS software.

The results show overall medium and high values of IGeo, with regional variations and well-individualized areas of very high and very low values. Conspicuous transitions between extremes are observed at the north and south edges of the study area.

High IGeo values occur in five major areas across the mainland: 1). on the north coast, which exhibits small outcrops of varied lithologies; 2). in the northeast Grampian Mountains, where the deformed Dalradian rocks are intruded by the Cairngorms suite of the Newer Granites; 3). along the Great Glen, the meeting place of adjacent tectonic blocks; 4). in the Firth of Lorne area and further inland, where Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic rocks come into contact with more recent Cenozoic rocks of the Hebridean Province; 5). at the southern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula that contains isolated exposures of rocks characteristic of the nearby Midland Valley.

Low IGeo values are encountered in three major areas of the mainland: 1). southeast of the Moine Thrust Zone, an area occupied by the oldest Moine group; 2). in the Pentland Firth area that consists of the Old Red Sandstone Supergroup; 3). in the Firth of Clyde area and further inland, around the main outcrop of the youngest Dalradian group.

Offshore, the islands of Orkney and Shetland have IGeo values at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first are made up of a monotonous sedimentary cover. The latter comprise a mosaic of rocks of Precambrian and early Phanerozoic age.

How to cite: Neches, A. G.: The Geological Index of the Scottish Caledonides northwest of the Highland Boundary Fault, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13170,, 2021.

Emma Polman, W. Daniel Kissling, and Harry Seijmonsbergen

UNESCO Global Geoparks aim to protect globally significant geoheritage and geodiversity. However, the representativeness of geodiversity in these geoparks has never been quantified in a global context. Here, we quantify geodiversity in 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks and compare the outcome to global, Asian and European geodiversity using a geodiversity index with a global coverage, based on openly available geological, soil, hydrological and topographical input data. The global geodiversity index has five categories (from very low to very high) based on the total scores of the individual geodiversity components per 10 x 10 km grid cell.  In addition, we assessed the occurrence of soil types and lithology types in geoparks using global lithology and soil datasets. Our results show that total geodiversity, lithological diversity and topographical diversity were significantly higher in UNESCO Global Geoparks compared to random locations of parks, reflecting that many geoparks are located in mountainous areas where lithological and topographic diversity is high. Soil diversity and hydrological diversity were not significantly higher in geoparks compared to random areas, and 22% and 65% of all globally occurring soil types and lithology types were not represented in any geopark. This indicates that soil and hydrology features are not sufficiently represented in the criteria used to establish geoparks (which emphasize geological and geomorphological features), and that current geoparks are unevenly distributed across the world, with most of them being located in Asia and in Europe. Our results highlight important gaps in geodiversity conservation and can help to identify which areas of high soil and hydrological diversity are currently underrepresented and which soil and lithology types should be included in future efforts to improve the representativeness of UNESCO Global Geoparks.

How to cite: Polman, E., Kissling, W. D., and Seijmonsbergen, H.: A quantitative assessment of geodiversity in UNESCO Global Geoparks, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-696,, 2021.

Cristina Viani, Luigi Perotti, Federico Tognetto, Ilaria Selvaggio, and Marco Giardino

Geodiversity includes geological, geomorphological, hydrological and soil elements and processes. By analysing geodiversity we can offer static and dynamic views of abiotic landscapes on the Earth. The current state of geodiversity includes both relict, long-term features recalling the past of our planet earth and active landforms and processes whose monitoring is a key for interpreting relationships between geosphere, biosphere and human activities. If the long term geodiversity mainly represents distribution of litho-structural “static” constrains to environmental changes, recent and active environmental features may act as dynamic “proxies” for interpreting climate change.
Aim of this work is to analyse relevant examples of both static and dynamic geodiversity within the territory of the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark (Western Alps, Italy), in order to assess their role as georesources and to highlight possible sustainable use of related abiotic ecosystem services, including geoheritage. Geodiversity assessment has been performed by means of creation of geothematic maps and related factors analysed for better mountain environment understanding and management. 
Starting with static geodiversity we collected, analysed and interpreted lithological and structural data in order to obtain information on distribution of georesources in the study area and to create a geothematic map on landscape resistance to erosion.
Thereafter we focused on two aspects related to dynamic geodiversity and their relationships with dramatic changes of the alpine landscape: glacial evolution and fluvial processes. On one hand, valley scale geomorphological evolution has been reconstructed by means of multitemporal data (e.g.: glacial landforms maps, glacier inventories) on evidences in the Sesia Valley. Obtained information crossed with national landslide inventory allowed to identify areas of strong glacial influence on slope stability (deep-seated gravitational slope deformation and landslides due to slope debutressing). Moreover, recent glacier withdrawal results in new glacier lakes increasing the hydrogeodiversity of the area and representing important potential georesources to be used. Finally, recent alluvial event (October 2020) has been considered for its high impact in reshaping fluvial environment and effects on both infrastructures and popular geosites along the Sesia river.
Results of this work are useful for the establishment of a proper Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework related to environmental issues due to global change in order to support educational activities and sustainable development of alpine “tourism hubs” included in the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark by the “ArcticHubs” H2020-EU.3.5.1 project.

How to cite: Viani, C., Perotti, L., Tognetto, F., Selvaggio, I., and Giardino, M.: Assessment of static and dynamic geodiversity in the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark: constraints for a sustainable use of related abiotic ecosystem services, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2230,, 2021.

Márton Pál and Gáspár Albert

The quantification of geodiversity has become an important task for researchers just after the formulation of the definition. For ‘measuring’ the values of the physical environment, many quantitative assessment models were presented in the past decades. The common characteristic of these methods is that they use thematic (geological, geomorphological, pedological, mineralogical, palaeontological) layers/datasets to evaluate each geoscientific property of a certain sample area. These data can be printed maps or databases with geospatial reference. The geodiversity index can be produced by objectively examining and evaluating these source materials. However, in some countries, scientists lack proper datasets, or they do not have the legislative background to use them.

We propose an alternative methodology based on Pereira et al. (2013) to determine geomorphological diversity, an important subvalue of the geodiversity index. The concept of geomorphons (Jasiewicz & Stepinski, 2013) is a relatively new pattern recognition approach to classify and map landforms. Any kind of DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) can be used to produce this categorization (better resolution means a more realistic result). The algorithm uses 8-tuple pattern of the visibility neighbourhood (not necessarily immediate neighbours) to delineate terrain forms in the eight principle directions to a certain point. The result of the algorithm produces a quasi-geomorphological map with 10 relief categories: flat, summit, ridge, shoulder, spur, slope, hollow, footslope, valley and depression.

This concept can be built in the geodiversity assessment process of any area as DEMs are freely available with at least 1 arc second resolution all over the world. We have used geomorphons during the geodiversity assessment of the Bakony–Balaton UNESCO Global Geopark in Hungary. The results follow field experiences and the patterns of large-scale geomorphological maps. As geomorphons are freely available in desktop GIS software (e.g. GRASS), their use can become an objective global opportunity to quantify geomorphological diversity.

From the part of G.A. financial support was provided from the NRDI Fund of Hungary, Thematic Excellence Programme no. TKP2020-NKA-06 (National Challenges Subprogramme) funding scheme.


Jasiewicz, J., Stepinski, T. (2013): Geomorphons - a pattern recognition approach to classification and mapping of landforms. Geomorphology, vol. 182, pp. 147-156.

Pereira, D.I., Pereira, P., Brilha, J., Santos, L. (2013): Geodiversity assessment of Paraná State (Brazil): An innovative approach. Environmental Management, vol. 52, pp. 541–552.

How to cite: Pál, M. and Albert, G.: The use of geomorphons in geodiversity assessment, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1363,, 2021.

Andrea Ferrando, Francesco Faccini, Flavio Poggi, and Paola Coratza

Geodiversity is an important natural resource that must be considered in developing an effective land management strategy. In recent times there has been a great impulse on the research on geodiversity topics; particular attention has been given to geodiversity assessment methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative. The Liguria region in Northern Italy, despite its small geographic scale, encompasses a great variety of natural and cultural features of international significance. This wide variety is due to its particular geographical, geological and geomorphological conditions. In this work a first preliminary assessment of geodiversity in the Liguria region has been carried out, according to the quantitative method proposed by Melelli et al (2017). This GIS-based method uses spatial analysis techniques, taking into account five parameters: a geological index (lithology) and four morphometric indices (drainage density, roughness, slope position index and landform category), combined to obtain a total Geodiversity Index. The results show that the Liguria region is characterized by many areas with high geodiversity. The most important examples are the western Ligurian Alps, the Finalese, the Sestri-Voltaggio Zone and its surroundings, the eastern Ligurian Apennines, the Cinque Terre, which are in fact the areas with the greatest morphological and lithological variety. Most of these areas are well known by geoscientists for their significant geological and geomorphological heritage, and by the general public for their impressive landscapes. There is a correspondence between the most geodiverse areas, the main natural parks and the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, established to protect and enhance biodiversity. This suggest a link between geodiversity and biodiversity, that may be subject to further research.

How to cite: Ferrando, A., Faccini, F., Poggi, F., and Coratza, P.: Geodiversity in the Liguria region: a preliminary GIS-based quantitative assessment, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3081,, 2021.

Alicja Najwer, Piotr Jankowski, Zbigniew Zwoliński, and Jacek Niesterowicz

The main objective of virtual PICO is to present an approach to geodiversity assessment based on spatial multicriteria analysis (MCE) with Crowdsourced Data. Geodiversity assessment usually involves an individual expert or a group of experts who assess the value of geodiversity factors to the overall geodiversity score for a study area. The biggest objection to methods used so far is subjectivism. Responding to these objections, a crowdsourcing approach that uses an online geo-questionnaire linked with an interactive map was used.

The assessment input data comprised of seven environmental factor ratings and weights were obtained from 57 Earth science researchers worldwide. These data served as the bases for a joint  assessment of geodiversity. To provide more comprehensive assessment approach for aggregating factor ratings and weights to compute an overall measure of geodiversity the weighted linear combination (WLC) method and its local version L-WLC were used. Karkonosze National Park (KNP) located in south-western Poland in the border area between Poland and the Czech Republic was chosen as a research area. Karkonosze is the highest mountain range of the Sudetes, characterised by unique geological and geomorphological values. The geodiversity of the research area was valued with regards to the reliability of assessment evaluated by means of spatially explicit uncertainty analysis. Average (AVG) and standard deviation (STD) geodiversity maps (on the basis of 57 respondent data) were computed. As a result of their cross-tabulation, a bivariate maps with average geodiversity values (AVG: low, high) and standard deviation values (STD: low, high) were created. Two such maps, one for WLC results and another for L-WLC results, were compiled and evaluated, providing a more holistic visages of final geodiversity and its uncertainty. Given that L-WLC provides a realistic assessment of geodiversity and guided by its results, the areas of  high geodiversity and low uncertainty have been identified within Karkonosze range.

How to cite: Najwer, A., Jankowski, P., Zwoliński, Z., and Niesterowicz, J.: Geodiversity assessment with Crowdsourced Data and Spatial Multicriteria Analysis, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15464,, 2021.

Coupling GIS and Machine Learning for the quantitative assessment of geomorphodiversity
Laura Melelli, Maurizio Petrelli, and Claudio De Blasio
Geodiversity applications
Helena Tukiainen, Janne Alahuhta, Jan Hjort, Marja Lindholm, Tuija Maliniemi, Henriikka Salminen, Henna Snåre, Maija Toivanen, Annika Vilmi, and Jani Heino

A variety of ways can be used to measure geodiversity, but no consensus on quantifying it exists to date. Most quantifications have thus far focused on the abiotic diversity of individual sites, which offers only limited views on variation of abiotic nature. It is, therefore, important to examine the between-site geodiversity, i.e., the dissimilarities of geofeatures (elements of geodiversity) between different sites. For instance, it would be interesting to recognize not only the most geodiverse sites of an area, but also the sites that have the most unique compositions of geofeatures. This extended geodiversity information could be further applied in nature conservation or land-use planning. We propose that geodiversity research would benefit from adopting the alpha, beta and gamma concepts of species diversity research to provide a more holistic framework for geodiversity assessments. In particular, the inclusion of distance metrics for measuring beta biodiversity could open new perspectives in evaluating beta geodiversity. The integration of these diversity concepts into geodiversity research would also allow a better joint understanding of biotic and abiotic diversity.

How to cite: Tukiainen, H., Alahuhta, J., Hjort, J., Lindholm, M., Maliniemi, T., Salminen, H., Snåre, H., Toivanen, M., Vilmi, A., and Heino, J.: Quantifying geodiversity with alpha, beta and gamma components, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5176,, 2021.

Harry Seijmonsbergen, Sanne Valentijn, Lisan Westerhof, and Kenneth Rijsdijk

There is a growing demand for mineral resources such as metals and rare earth elements, but global terrestrial resources are rapidly declining. Alternatively, the ocean floor provides unprecedented mining potential. However, their occurrences  in relation to ocean floor geodiversity is largely unexplored. Therefore, it is unclear what the (irreversible) potential impact of future mining is on ocean floor geodiversity.

Here, we quantify the ocean floor geodiversity of the West-Pacific ocean floor and explore the distribution of three mineral resources: polymetallic sulfides, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and polymetallic nodules.  We developed a workflow for the calculation of a geodiversity index composed of openly available geomorphological, sediment thickness, bathymetric and derived ocean floor roughness input data in ArcGIS Pro.

Our results show a large variety in geodiversity on the West-Pacific ocean floor, ranging from very low and low geodiversity on large plateaus and in wide trenches and throughs, to high and very high geodiversity in heterogeneous, patchy environments on shelves, basins and abyssal plains. Regression analysis results indicate that polymetallic sulfides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts positively correlate to the geodiversity index, while polymetallic nodules indicate a negative correlation.  Further analysis will focus on refining and expanding this method to a global extent by adding ocean floor age, a possible important factor, into the geodiversity assessment.

Our findings suggest that understanding of ocean floor geodiversity can contribute to promote sustainable mining and support conservation of the ocean floor.

How to cite: Seijmonsbergen, H., Valentijn, S., Westerhof, L., and Rijsdijk, K.: Exploring ocean floor geodiversity in relation to mineral resources in the Pacific Ocean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-693,, 2021.

David Dellong, Florent Le Courtois, Jean-Michel Boutonnier, and Bazile G. Kinda

Maps of underwater noise generated by shipping activity became a useful tool to support international regulations on marine environments. They are used to infer the risk of impact on biodiversity. Maps are performed by 1) computing the emitted noise levels from ships, 2) propagating the acoustic signal in the environment and 3) using localized measurements to validate the results. Because of mismatches in environmental data and a limited number of measurements, noise maps remain highly uncertain.

In this work, the uncertainty of the noise maps is investigated through the potential complexity of soundscape. The acoustic signal at each receiving cell is computed from the convolution of the source of the ships by the transmission losses of the environment. Complexity is mapped by computing Shannon's entropy of the transmission losses for each receiver. High entropy areas only reflect high shipping densities and favorable acoustic propagation properties of the local environment. Low entropy areas reflect: low shipping density and/or poor acoustic propagation properties. An area with high shipping densities and poor acoustic propagation properties will still have low entropy values.

Entropy maps allow classifying areas depending on their environmental features. Thus, scenarios of uncertainty are defined. Results highlight the necessity to consider the diversity of the environmental properties in support of the production of noise maps. The methodology could help in optimizing spatial and temporal resolution of map computations, as well as optimizing acoustic monitoring strategies.

How to cite: Dellong, D., Le Courtois, F., Boutonnier, J.-M., and Kinda, B. G.: Noise maps complexity in regards of environmental properties, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9416,, 2021.

Anita Pande

Himalaya is the greatest heritage of India. The objective of this paper is to present a view of the geomorphological heritage of the Himalaya.Uttarakhand state (77°35’5”-81°2’25” E and 28°43’45”-31°8’18’’N, Area: 53,066 lies almost wholly within the realm of the Himalaya and is a distinct geographical entity. The state is a land of vast geological and topographic diversities and a realm with rich geo-wealth and geoheritage. Geological and geomorphological features occurring in different parts of Uttarakhand Himalaya are part of the natural assets and are precious state heritage (geoheritage), worthy of conservation. Apart from rock monuments and fossil parks, geomorphological features or geomorphosites have great potential to exert a pull on tourists. These sites have noteworthy impact on the geoscience education and research. Geotourism is growing rapidly all over the world and Himalaya region is no exception to this. To promote geotourism in the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand, comprehensive information about geomorphosites should be made available to the tourists by way of websites. For this, first a peer-reviewed state inventory of geomorphosites and their classification, mapping and assessment is required. Geodiversity in Uttarakhand State can best be understood in the form of the rise of Himalayan mountains from the bed of Tethys Sea which gave rise to four distinct tectonic units largely varying in lithology and structure. The relief was fragmented into four major morphosculptural units which signify the mountainous part of the state: viz. i. the Tethys zone or the Trans-Himalaya ii. the Greater Himalaya iii. the Lesser Himalaya and iv. the Siwalik. Apart from this mountainous region of the State, there is  outlying region of the state, which incompasses : iv. Bhabhar and Tarai (a sub-montane tract) - a landscape feature along the foothills, v. Dun Valleys – valleys of tectonic origin and vi. Plains of North India - the lowest part in Uttarakhand with an altitude of 200 m. These geological units recognised on the basis of evolutionary history, stratigraphic sequences and component rock units and reveal identical topographic and climatic characteristics. These units are separated by various tectonic boundaries. Apart from geodiversity, the geomorphological diversity can be assessed in the form of towering snow peaks, awe-inspiring horned peaks with natural grandeur, widely distributed stretches of wide and fertile valleys, valleys of tectonic origin-canoe shaped longitudinal valleys, lofty snow capped peak surrounded by several small and big snowfields, glaciers and lakes, mountain passes and  elevated zones packed in a series of multi-level distinctive waterfalls. Thus, being the youngest mountain of the world, this Himalayan State has geotouristic potential from the point of view of its geomorphological heritage.

 Keywords: Himalaya, geodiversity , geomorphological heritage, geomorphosites, geotourism.  

How to cite: Pande, A.: A Geomorphological Approach to Geodiversity and Geotourism in Uttarakhand Himalaya, India: A Pilot Survey, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15071,, 2021.

Krishnanand Krishnanand

Geoheritage are those components of geodiversity that are specifically identified as having conservation significance; that have some specific value to human society and therefore ought to be conserved, particularly if they are threatened by human activities and could therefore be lost or damaged. The Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, India is unique due to the presence of Tethyan sediments that are exposed and have abundance of fossils that makes it a rich and valuable geoheritage site. The research focuses upon the study of various existing tourist hot spots and potential geoheritage sites. The main objective of the study is to assess the human response (geotourism) to the diversity of existing and potential geoheritage sites in the area. The study is largely based on the field work conducted in the study area between 2014-19 in which data has been collected through structured questionnaire survey, observation and in-depth interviews through field work and SWOT analysis has been done accordingly. The locations of geoheritage sites have been marked using Global positioning System (GPS) and an overlay map has been prepared using Arc Map 10 (GIS software). Overall, the major issue is the lack of geoconservation policy and inaccessibility which needs to be addressed with better management efforts such as Fossil Park or geo-park establishment.

Key words: Geoheritage, Geotourism, Spiti Valley, Potential Geoheritage Sites, Fossil Park

How to cite: Krishnanand, K.: Geoheritage and Potential Geotourism Sites in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16256,, 2021.

Irene Maria Bollati, Cristina Viani, Anna Masseroli, Giovanni Mortara, Bruno Testa, Gianluca Tronti, Emmanuel Reynard, and Manuela Pelfini

Proglacial areas, defined as the areas left free from glaciers since the Little Ice Age, are open-air laboratories to study the effects of climate change on high mountain environments. Their different abiotic features (i.e. geodiversity) depend mainly on the bedrock characteristics, the type of glaciers acting in the areas and the morphometry of their hydrographic basins, which influence the geomorphic dynamics (i.e., geomorphodiversity). From this, it could derive a different response of glacier forefields to deglaciation and particular evolutionary trends. Hydrological elements and dynamics are particularly variable (i.e. hydrogeodiversity), especially in terms of proglacial lakes diversification, having effects down-valley, even far from the strict proglacial area, and also in term of potential natural hazards. Moreover, geodiversity of proglacial areas may have implications on other types of “diversity”. After the glacier retreat, glacier forefields are, in fact, characterized by soils development and vegetation settlement. In particular, soils characterized by different ages and by different degree of development coexist over short distances (i.e. pedodiversity), functioning also as a support for living organisms. Biotic components gradually colonize such areas, from the pioneer to the late-successional species, bringing varied species along the proglacial plains (i.e. biodiversity). All these aspects can be discussed in the perspective of the abiotic ecosystem services (i.e. regulating, supporting, provisioning, and cultural) provided by glacier forefields. Regulating services are related to both atmospheric and terrestrial processes, including natural hazard regulation. Supporting services deal mainly with habitat provision and soils development. Provisioning services include both material (freshwater, building materials) and immaterial (i.e. tourism) resources. Finally, cultural services, that are the most numerous, take into account, among the others, the spiritual and historical meaning, the geohistorical importance for the Earth Sciences development, the educational and geotourism-related opportunities, and the landscape benefit effects. Considering all these aspects, and the intense dynamics proglacial areas are affected by, which will be illustrated through examples mainly from the European Alps, it emerges the importance of a careful monitoring and management of such areas, hopefully through an even more holistic approach.

How to cite: Bollati, I. M., Viani, C., Masseroli, A., Mortara, G., Testa, B., Tronti, G., Reynard, E., and Pelfini, M.: Geodiversity of proglacial areas and implications on abiotic ecosystem services, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10566,, 2021.

Pawel Strus, Anna Chrobak, and Jan Novotny

Study of the geodiversity in last decade was very popular in scientific literature. Also the Western Carpathians was the study area for geodiversity and geotourist assessment many times. As part of this study, an attempt was made to answer several questions regarding geodiversity and geotourism in relation to the local inhabitants of the area: 1/Is geodiversity and geotourism in the Western Carpathians able to attract wider crowds of tourists, not only interested specialists? 2/Do people living near a geotourist attraction realize its potential? In addition the authors want to show the summarizing geodiversity map of the Western Carpathians and how much time does the whole procedure of creating a geodiversity map for such a large area as the Western Carpathians take and how much work is required to prepare a study for that region. Important question is also a coherence of the study in a case of the region covering many countries and therefore various character of data available. Secondly, the authors have compared the geodiversity map with the distribution of geosites available in databases of Polish, Slovak and Czech Geological Surveys. This comparison shows that not always the largest number of geosites are located in places with the highest geodiversity index, as it might seem. Finally, the authors present a pilot study of the perception of inanimate nature by local residents that have been carried out in Podtatrze area (Southern Poland/Northern Slovakia). The results show that assumption that local people know their region very well is not entirely true. Most of the inhabitants do not know the basic forms of the relief that occur in the vicinity of their place of residence, cannot correctly recognize the type of rocks that are around them, or are unable to name the peaks that they look at from the window of their house. What could be the reason of it? Perhaps the lack of knowledge about their "little homeland" which they should acquire in primary school; or the simple lack of interest in inanimate nature resulting from the economic lack of profitability vision; or the lack of promotion of the most interesting geotouristic elements in the region. Summing up, the area of the Western Carpathians has areas with a very high and high geodiversity index, which may increase their (geo)tourism potential and constitute a source of additional profit for local residents, but requires access and promotion.

How to cite: Strus, P., Chrobak, A., and Novotny, J.: Geodiversity and geotourism for the local people - a study of the Western Carpathians., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5392,, 2021.

Hugo Gomes, Emanuel Castro, Gonçalo Vieira, Carla Mora, Susana Echeverria, and Helena Freitas

The Network of Science and Education for Sustainable Development of the Estrela UNESCO Global Geopark, implemented in 2019, aims at supporting and fostering applied research in the Estrela Geopark’s territory, based on an articulated set of interdisciplinary working Groups with close links to the Higher Education Institutions and the national scientific and technological system, highlighting the entities that carry out research in mountain regions. Besides, it will also serve as a catalyst for the new generation of scientists who will benefit from the more than 2,200 km2 of this territory as a living laboratory.

The Network presents a dynamic structure, through a set of nuclei (working groups), promoting science and education, and developing scientific research in complementary areas. Each Nucleus is coordinated by a Responsible Researcher (RR) and includes a team appointed by him. The Nuclei develop their R & D activity in articulation with public and private research units and technology centres, whose activity is developed in lines and projects closely related to the Estrela Geopark. Its priority activities will be defined within the framework of the Estrela Geopark’s Strategic Plan for Science, as well as within the premises of UNESCO, with priority in the following areas: Geology and Geomorphology, Landscape, Culture and Heritage, Climate and Climate Change, Biodiversity and Ecology, Environment and Natural Resources, Territory Planning and Risks, Tourism, Leisure and Sustainable Development.

Thus, this network aim at creating activities that promote science, education and scientific knowledge, in a collaborative way, based on the establishment of medium and long-term strategic partnerships between different actors of the territory and institutions that carry out research in the several themes, having as main objectives the cooperation in the identification of challenges, joint planning of activities, the definition of projects, the development of studies on the territory of the Estrela, the sharing of resources and infrastructures and the mobility and / or exchange of resources, with the aim of transferring, sharing and disseminating knowledge.

This Network promotes 5 working groups of science and education in: Climate Change; Water Resources; Biodiversity and Ecology; Tourism and Sustainability; Geodiversity and Geoconservation.

This holistic strategy aims at putting scientific knowledge at the service of the communities, through an effective citizen science, implementing various activities with the direct involvement of the communities and its promotion.

How to cite: Gomes, H., Castro, E., Vieira, G., Mora, C., Echeverria, S., and Freitas, H.: The Estrela UNESCO Global Geopark Science and Education Network for Sustainable Development, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12903,, 2021.