Event Information:

  • Cities and Geoheritage


    The majority of Europeans live in cities. Only a hundred years ago, there were no cities with a population of 5 million inhabitants in the world. In the year 2000 there were already 60 such cities worldwide.  Nowadays more than half of the world’s population is living in urban areas and it is predicted to rise considerably in the next decades.

    It is important to know that urban areas, due to the population density and to the high concentration of infrastructure are extra vulnerable to geological hazards. The geological hazards that often occurs in the cities are landslides, ground collapse, erosion, inundations, polluted soils, natural radiation, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions  and their direct and indirect effects killed thousands of lives every year. Geologist and Geoscientifics play a main role in prediction, detection and mitigation of these natural hazards.

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    The cities are also the major consumers of mineral resources. Immense volumes of rock, sand and gravel are transported and consumed here. However, without this migration of materials, the cities simply would stop function. In the cities, consumption of products, pollution and exploitation of subsurface take place in the same areas and hence leave traces, such as urban fills. Also, past consumption and pollution has left a legacy of problems. The life cycle of mineral products raise important environmental issues, which can only be solved if geology is taken into account.

    In cities even in already built-over areas, the development of subsurface space is necessary. How would the main cities cope without Metros, subsurface parking lots or road tunnels? Not to mention tunnels for water distribution and sewage management and cable trenches. Constructing this infrastructure without jeopardizing the surface and environment demands knowledge on geological conditions.
    The only way to address and solve many urgent problems of urban development is to have relevant geoscientific information organised in GIS and attributed databases available. Many cities (e.g. Moscow, Helsinki, Warsaw) already have specially prepared sets of geological maps, which are used as part of the basis for urban development decisions

    Geology is the colour of nature in all its shapes. From those that prefer hiking over former molten rock, or climb the highest mountains, to those that are tempted to dive to the coral reefs or raft down the roaring gorges, or those again that crawl down the deepest mines or caves, or those that collect the splendour of minerals and the imaginative fossils: The unexplored Earth provides a wealth of opportunities to escape the boring daily routine.

    A dramatic and spectacular world tempts one, no matter what season or day, to explore the extra dimension of the geology adventure. Be it when admiring the landscape while travelling by train, car or airplane, or while admiring the wonders of nature when visiting exotic places, or again, when telling tales to the young ones about monsters, big as houses, now extinct. Even when exploring the urban landscape, geology can tell exciting stories of the connection between the natural heritage and the built heritage. Churches and monumental buildings are built with materials from quarries nearby, or from far away, and this can be used as an entrance to local history. Geology is all around us, and nature is still writing its own story.

    Geoparks and geoheritage

    If you ask Europeans abut geological heritage, many will think of places such as Iceland, Mount Etna, the Giant's Causeway or the Alps. But there is more to geological heritage than these special, often exceptional outcrops. Across Europe there are examples of landscapes and rocks that provide key evidence of a particular moment in Earth history. This diversity of sites is also part of our geological heritage. Around Europe, Geoparks are established in order to let tourists explore these important parts of the puzzle that together make up Europe’s natural history.

    Dualism in Geotourism

    In recent years, the expression Geotourism has been used frequently in order to express these activities. However, this may be confused with the same phrase used by National Geographic. They define Geotourism as: “Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, and heritage—and the well-being of its residents.“ However, narrative stories about geology, landscape and the utilisation of natural resources match this definition of geotourism as well.