Arouca Geopark - Portugal
The Arouca Geopark territory is located in northern Portugal near Porto and Douro Valley. It is renowned for its exceptional geological heritage of international significance, with 41 geosites. The Giant Trilobites of Canelas and the Castanheira's "stones that give birth" are the most emblematic.
Arouca offer a variety of touristic experiences like to contact with the culture of Monastery of Santa Maria de Arouca, feel the whitewater by rafting in the Paiva River and taste Arouquesa meat and convent sweets.
Located in the North Atlantic and includes the 9 islands of the archipelago and submarine geosites in the surrounding sea floor. At the Azores geopark territory it is possible to tell 10 million stories about volcanoes and man. Come to meet the Azorean volcanoes and enjoy an eruption…of flavors, aromas and experiences!
Bakony–Balaton Geopark, Hungary
Far more than just a geological wonderland! Bakony–Balaton Geopark was accepted into the European and Global Geoparks Networks in 2012. The 3,244 km2 Geopark is located near Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe, at the boundary between four major geographic regions. Therefore it is characterized by a variety of geological, topographic, climatic and hydrological features and by its extensive biodiversity. Altogether 24 of the 45 geosites are located within protected natural areas of national interest (Balaton Uplands National Park, Protected Landscape Areas, Nature Conservation Areas) and/or the geosite is itself protected by law (e.g. caves). The Geopark territory comprises 151 settlements – ranging from tiny villages to towns – with 330,000 inhabitants.
Bakony–Balaton Geopark, with its long tradition of geological research is one of the places on Earth where the outstanding geodiversity is not only described in scientific papers but is also beautifully reflected in the landscape. Instead of seeking hidden treasures, just open your eyes to more than four-hundred-million-year old metamorphic rocks, fossil-rich Alpine Triassic limestone sequences, dinosaur-bearing Cretaceous rocks and tropical tower karst, sediments of the former Lake Pannon containing diverse endemic species of molluscs, gorges and karst plateaux featuring 700 caves, hundreds of sinkholes, a 10-km-long thermal-water maze under a town and more than 1,600 clear-water springs. Here you can see one of the ‘densest’ volcanic fields in Europe. The 3–8 million years old remains of volcanoes with ‘basalt organs’ in the Tapolca Basin offer one of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe. Wandering in one of the ‘seas of stones’ around Káli Basin is a delightful experience for everyone.
Added to this geological and biological wonderland is the legacy of five thousand years of human occupation: the rich archaeological heritage of the prehistoric and Roman times, ruins of medieval castles, old monasteries, the two millennia old but still existing viticulture and beautiful examples of traditional folk architecture.
Basque Coast Geopark
Basque Coast Geopark is located where the Pyrenees meet the Cantabrian sea. The Basque region is known by its landscape, cultural heritage and first class gastronomy. All these features, together with an amazing geology, can be seen and enjoied in the Basque Coast Geopark. This territory is worldwide known among the scientific community because it contains one of the most important geological outcrop of the world: 12 kilometers of big sea cliffs formed by flysch rocks contain more than 50 million years of Earth history along the Cretaceous and the Paleogene periods, including one the most famous KT boundaries of the world.
Big warming events like the PETM or two Global Stratotypes can also be seen in this big natural book. This impressive geological heritage is accompanied by a very rich archeological and cultural heritage that can be summarized in the Basque language, one of the oldest languages in Europe, still alive in the Basque Geopark"
The Chablais Geopark lies in a remarkable natural landscape which has influenced the culture and life of both its inhabitants and numerous visitors. Traditional architecture, the working of the land, the high mountain farms, the stories and legends, the natural riches of the Evian and Thonon mineral waters, all are witness to the strong links between man and nature.
Here, the Alps tell of…
The Chablais : A reflection of the history of the Alps. The Chablais region is unique; the landscape recounts an ancient history of over 250 million years : the story of the formation of the Alps.
Before the birth of the mountains, there was the Alpine Ocean. Marine sediments which were laid down in the depths of this ocean, later became the rocks that formed the Chablais. These rocks were folded, faulted and uplifted during the creation of the Alps.
Today, the riches of this geological history are visible; notably through a large number of lakes which are the legacy of a glacial past and a wealth of renowned mineral waters.
The Chablais Geopark and the local authorities of the Chablais promote these riches throughout the territory.
Copper Coast Geopark, Republic of Ireland
The Copper Coast is on the south-east coast of Ireland, in Co. Waterford. During the 19th century it was a very productive copper-mining area. The Copper Coast Geopark remembers those times, by preserving and interpreting the existing built, written and oral heritage. The accessibility of the cliffs, caves, beaches and rocks of this beautiful, rugged coastline also act as a magical, tactile, geological textbook. The new Copper Coast Geopark Centre in Bunmahon celebrates all of this heritage and links it to demonstrate the relationship of geology to every aspect of living, heritage and culture.
Geopark Harz . Braunschweiger Land . Ostfalen in Central Germany
Geological diversity from paleozoic rocks to ice age sediments....
The Harz Mountains are composed of paleozoic sediments and magmatic rocks. They have been extensively documented over the past 1000 years in historical accounts of mining and research in the area. Nowadays, the Harz Mountains belong to the five most famous tourist destinations of Germany. The main attraction of the National Park Harz is the Brocken with its attitude of 1141 m. This mountain was also visited by famous poets like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. In addition there are also visitor’s mines, caves and museums, for example the world cultural heritage site Rammelsberg near Goslar.
The Braunschweiger-Land / Ostfalen area offers for its part fossil-rich sediments of the Mesozoic and Neozoic eras. A unique landscape with numerous deposits (iron ore, brown coal, salt, oil) came about here as a result of the elevation of salt structures. The cultural history of the region with its renowned monuments, including the world cultural heritage city of Quedlinburg and the emperor’s cathedral in Koenigslutter, is closely linked to the geological characteristics of the landscape. In addition, the region offers important prehistorical finds, like the Neandertaler camps of Salzgitter and the “Unicorn Cave” near Herzberg as well as the “Schoeningen Spears”.
On numerous “geo-trails” and nature paths and at “geopoints” visitors can experience the attractions of our geopark either independently or under the guidance of trained personnel. For this purpose, information booklets and leaflets are available, for example the "Landmarks", which give an overview of the geology of the Harz region. In co-operation with museums and schools, special educational activities are continuously being developed.
Katla Geopark is Iceland´s first geopark and it opens up a natural wonderland to the visitor. A top priority of the park is to protect the natural environment, promote local sustainable development, introduce local culture and place a strong emphasis on nature tourism.
Katla Geopark got its name from one of its most known volcanoes... "Katla" - which is under the glacier Mýrdalsjökull. The geopark is 9542 km2 or around 9,3 % of the total area of Iceland with population around 2700.
Katla Geopark is in every sense the land of ice and fire, with its towering glaciers and active volcanoes. These forces have been shaping the land for thousands of years and the nearest examples of that are the powerful eruptions in Eyjafjallajökull 2010 and Grímsvötn 2011. But there is also more amazing landscapes in the area, mountains, lakes, black sandy beaches, green pastures and meadows, powerful glacial rivers, beautiful waterfalls and vast lava fields.
These versatile landscapes makes various activities and adventures possible in the area, for example ice climbing and glacier walking, hiking, caving, horse-riding, sight seeing, angling, Jeep safaris and golf. Then there is also possibilities to enjoy the areas local culture by visiting its interesting museums and exhibitions and then relax in one of the areas swimming pools after a busy day.
Katla Geopark is accessible all year round, and each season has its own magical charm in this spectacular natural paradise.
Rokua Geopark, Finland
Finnish heritage of the ice age, Rokua Geopark, is a unique combination of geology, nature and culture on the Northern hemisphere not far away from the Arctic Circle. The characteristic features of the area are the landforms shaped by the Ice Age. In the core of the Geopark area is the Rokuanvaara hill created by sand deposited by a glacial river. Sand was deposited into a tunnel running beneath the ice and into the ice lake bay that opened from it ca. 10 000 years ago. Large blocks of ice were buried under the sand and, as they melted, they left behind a terrain marked by kettle holes including the Well of Depth, Finland's deepest kettle hole. Rokuanvaara Hill is known for its extensive, glowing white lichen heats that are decorated by clear-water kettle ponds and graciously sloping dunes. Rokuanvaara hill is an important and unique part of the geological heritage of the world. Rokuanvaara Hill offers abundant hiking opportunities with marked paths and several campfire locations. The three dimensional model of Rokuanvaara hill produced from a laser measurement data is used for instance as a teaching material in the schools of the Geopark area. More information
Google Earth tour of the European Network of Geoparks in 2010. Many more have been added since then.
Basque Coast geopark
At present, the Network comprises 54 Geoparks from 18 European Countries (click map to enlarge).
Magma Geopark, Norway
Magma Geopark (2329 km2) in southwest Norway comprises the municipalities of Bjerkreim, Eigersund, Flekkefjord, Lund and Sokndal. The area is thinly populated with an average density of 13.5 people per km2. The area consists of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks. The core of the geopark comprises the Rogaland Anorthosite Province.The gneisses, with ages up to 1650 Ma, were involved in the Sveconorwegain mountain building event about 1000 Ma. Large bodies of anorthosite were intruded at 930 Ma, followed by the largest layered intrusion in Europe (Bjerkreim-Sokndal).
Gallery: European Geoparks
Petrified sea bottoms of the ancient Tethys outcrop in Sierras Subbéticas. Water has shaped limestone giving place to a karstic landscape of great beauty.
Olive is the main activity of this territory, and "a sea" of olive groves covers the outskirts of the main calcareous peaks. Small white villages give landscape a touch of bright.
The Sobrarbe territory delights visitors in its peaceful and beautiful landscapes. They still bear witness to processes that have taken place during 500 million years of Earth’s history.
Half of its area (2.200 km2) has been designated a protected natural reserve. Sobrarbe’s biodiversity and geodiversity are really impressive.
The main geological attraction is the formation of the Pyrenees: the disappearance of the Tertiary narrow sea, the collision of continents and the emergence of the mountain chain, then its erosion over the course of Ice Ages.
From deep valleys to tree– half covered mountains, visitors can wander across a network of pathways and discover a rich variety of geological, natural historical and architectural points of interest, as well as their folklore and legends.
Eisenwurzen Nature and Geopark, Austria
The Eisenwurzen Nature and Geopark is located in the centre of the Austrian Alps. High mountains, rivers rushing through deep valleys and gorges and, last not least, widespread forests give the landscape its special character. Being part of the Northern Calcareous Alps, the Geopark represents over 200 Million years of the history of Earth, beginning with the deposition of thousands of metres of marine sediments to the Alpine mountain building, the effluent of the large glaciers of the Great Ice age and the final moulding of the landscape by river erosion. Water originating from thousands of springs is not only an important source of drinking water but contribute also to the reputation of the area among kayakers and rafters.
The "Estrecho de la Peña Amarilla" is a fluvial defile that was formed by the Jalihuela brook when crossing the strata of the Armorican quartzites. These quartzite walls, originated in the Lower Ordovician, are the most visible feature of the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark. Its geomorphology, constituted by parallel sierras, is the result of the differential erosion over several materials deposited from the Ediacaran to the Silurian period.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall falls 65 meters over an old sea cliff and it is possible to walk behind it.