10th International Conference on Geomorphology
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Urban geomorphology and urban geomorphological heritage of a small Alpine town: Sion, Switzerland

Emmanuel Reynard
Emmanuel Reynard
  • Institute Geography and Sustainability and Interdisciplinary Centre for Mountain Research, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (emmanuel.reynard@unil.ch)

Sion is a small Alpine town situated in the Western Swiss Alps, along the Rhone River. With 30,000 inhabitants, it is the administrative capital of the canton of Valais and it proposes numerous working places, in particular in the tertiary sector. Situated originally on the alluvial fan of the Sionne River, a tributary of the Rhone River, the town has grown rapidly during the 20th century and it occupies now the whole surface of the Sionne River alluvial fan, and large parts of the Rhone River alluvial plain. Occupied since prehistoric times, the town has been the capital of the Bishop of Valais for centuries since the Middle Ages. It presents therefore a very rich archaeological and historical heritage that constitutes the original offer for tourism. Recently, Sion has also developed new tourist services based on the concept of “urban terroir”, trying to combine cultural urban and rural heritage.  

This poster aims at studying the relationships between the geomorphological forms, processes and heritage, and the urban development. The analysis combines four main approaches:

  • a simplified geomorphological map is created;
  • a geohistorical analysis of the landscape evolution, in particular fluvial landscapes, combining historical maps of the two last centuries, is carried out;
  • an inventory of regional geomorphosites is carried out using the method of the University of Lausanne (Reynard et al., 2016);
  • a concept for the development of urban geotourism is proposed.


Reynard E., Perret A., Bussard J., Grangier L., Martin S. (2015). Integrated approach for the inventory and management of geomorphological heritage at the regional scale, Geoheritage, 8(1), 43-60. DOI: 10.1007/s12371-015-0153-0

How to cite: Reynard, E.: Urban geomorphology and urban geomorphological heritage of a small Alpine town: Sion, Switzerland, 10th International Conference on Geomorphology, Coimbra, Portugal, 12–16 Sep 2022, ICG2022-602, https://doi.org/10.5194/icg2022-602, 2022.