What is geodiversity?
Geodiversity 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.
Despite its relatively small land area, Britain has very varied
geology and is the birthplace for the science of geology. Quarries,
providing they are maintained in a safe, accessible state,
can be restored to form a great resource for illustrating many
aspects of our geology. This might include fossils and geological
structures, which otherwise might not be visible
especially in areas where natural exposures of rocks are scarce.
Quarries are excellent places to examine the great variety
of rock types present
in Britain, ranging from the loose sands
and gravels deposited tens of thousands of years
ago during the ice age period of our (geologically) recent
past, to the much older and harder
rocks which were formed hundreds of millions of
years ago in tropical seas, volcanoes or hot dry deserts. They
can show us the conditions under which the rocks were deposited,
and yield clues to their subsequent history.
Examination of limestone in a former
A simple geological map of Great Britain.
Geological materials and structures exposed at quarry sites
can often provide important clues about the natural climate
change which has occurred in the past. Many of
the most geologically important quarries within the UK are
designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which
gives them statutory protection. Other somewhat less important,
but nevertheless very significant, sites may be designated
as Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS); many of these
are chosen because the quarry is accessible and exhibits some
special feature that can be used as a teaching aid.