The Petrified Forest of Lesvos and the Caldera of Santorini make the list
October 6 marks World Geodiversity Day, which also means that many sites are assessed by an international committee to create a list of the top 100 World Geological Heritage Sites. This year, two Greek sites were on the list: The Petrified Forest of Lesvos and the Volcanic Caldera of Santorini.
The International Union of Geological Sciences, in collaboration with UNESCO, has taken the initiative to create a list of the main areas of geological interest in the world.
In this context, the International Geological Congress (UISG-IGC) has implemented an international program with the aim of recording and evaluating the identification of the first 100 monuments of geological heritage.
It should be noted that according to the Commission, a geological heritage site is defined as an area which contains geological features or geological processes of international scientific significance, which serves as a point of reference or which has made a decisive contribution to the development of the geosciences over time.
– The Petrified Forest of Lesbos is a preserved natural monument. The nomination was submitted by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest and was prepared by a scientific team consisting of Prof. N. Zouro (University of the Aegean Sea), Prof. N. Soulakellis (University of the Aegean Sea) and Drs. H. Valiakos and K. Bendana.
– The Caldera of Santorini. The municipality of Thira co-decided on the submission of an application file in collaboration with a scientific team composed of associate professor P. Nomikou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). Dr. X. Fasoulas (Museum of Natural History, University of Crete) and Professor N. Zouros (University of the Aegean).
The first 100 geological heritage sites of IUGS will be honored at a special event organized on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the International Union of Geological Sciences in collaboration with UNESCO and the Global Geoparks Network and will take place in Zumaia (Basque Coast, area recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark) in Spain from October 25 to 28, 2022.
The nomination of the Petrified Forest of Lesbos will be presented by Professor N. Zouros and the nomination of the Caldera of Santorini by Associate Professor P. Nomikou.
The Lesvos Petrified Forest is a rare fossil forest ecosystem that includes large concentrations of petrified trees and animal fossils covered in volcanic material 18 million years ago.
Inside the layers of volcanic ash are fossilized trunks, branches, roots, fruits and leaves of trees as well as fossilized bones and teeth of animals.
Important fossil areas are also found in the coastal area and in the marine area west of Lesbos.
In the area of the Petrified Forest, you can also find impressive volcanic geosites, which testify to the intense volcanic activity of the past. By Presidential Decree (PD 443/1985), the Petrified Forest was declared a nature conservation monument.
Lesvos Petrified Forest is one of the four founding members of the European Geoparks Network in 2000 and the Global Geoparks Network in 2004.
It is a geological heritage site used for decades by schools to implement environmental education activities and universities in earth sciences, geohazards and climate change.
The caldera of Santoriniwith its fascinating geomorphology, the unique volcanic formations that compose it and its amazing geological history, is a global focal point not only for tourism but also for scientists, with a multitude of scientists from Greek and international universities carrying out research prominent in the region.
Its wider promotion and protection, through its successful inclusion in the 100 most important geological monuments of the world, will give the opportunity to a large number of visitors, as well as to the inhabitants of the island, to appreciate the grandeur of our planet in this very important corner of Greece.
By observing the successive layers of lava and ash that have built the island over time but also by admiring the imposing slopes created following one of the most violent and destructive volcanic eruptions in history, the common man will be able to connect with the Earth to understand and appreciate its power in Santorini.
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