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What is geodiversity?

The term 'geodiversity' encapsulates the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, sediments and soils in an area, together with natural processes, such as erosion and landslips, that may still be active.

Examples of Scotland's geodiversity:

  • Glasgow's geodiversity includes drumlins - landforms produced with the passage of great ice sheets - upon which the city centre is built.
  • Edinburgh's Castle Rock, once a volcano, and the variety of building stone used in the construction of the New Town, are examples of the capital's geodiversity.
  • The thick peat soil that supports the biodiversity of the Flow Country, and the 380 million year old fossil fish in the bedrock of Caithness, are well known geodiversity features in the north of  Scotland.
  • The River Spey, that carries sand silt and other sediment eroded from the Grampian Mountains into the Moray Firth, is an example of Grampian's dynamic geodiversity.

Many definitions of 'geodiversity' can be found in Britain and also the wider world, although the term is most commonly used in Europe and Australia. Definitions vary, but the majority are variations on: 'Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, sediments and soils, together with the natural processes which form and alter them'.

Some definitions from the UK and Europe include a cultural aspect. For example the wording of the European Manifesto on Earth Heritage and Geodiversity starts: 'Geodiversity links the Earth, its people and their culture'; and the often quoted article by Stanley (Welcome to the 21st century. Geodiversity Update, 2001, No. 1, p1): 'So what is geodiversity? It is the link between people, landscape and their culture: it is the variety of geological environments, phenomena and processes that make those landscapes, rocks, minerals, fossils and soils which provide the framework for life on Earth'. This cultural aspect, while not included in the majority of definitions of geodiversity, reflects the important influence geodiversity has on society and culture.

Last updated on Monday 14th December 2015 at 14:37 PM. Click here to comment on this page