, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 561–575 | Cite as

The Importance of Geosites and Heritage Stones in Cities—a Review

  • Patrick De Wever
  • François Baudin
  • Dolores Pereira
  • Annie Cornée
  • Grégoire Egoroff
  • Kevin Page
Original Article


Geology, as a scientific discipline, is often viewed as most applicable in high mountains or in deserts or coastal areas—or more generally in ‘natural areas’ where rock exposures are most conspicuous—and, therefore, not to be experienced by most visitors and tourists. In contrast, most geoscientists are convinced that geology can be practised on an everyday basis, as it is part of our daily life as a facet of the natural environment that humans have used for 100 s of thousands of years. Even in places where the natural world seems far from its original condition, one can still experience geology. This consideration is of increasing importance, as today, more than half the world’s population lives in towns and cities. In this context, we can still present geology to an interested public through establishing leisure walks, either guiding or using leaflets, easily carried booklets and even web ‘apps’. The style chosen aims to be accessible to a broader public, but crucially, in an urban context, there should always be an aim to demonstrate the relationship between geology and society, as well as architecture and history. Indeed, the realisation of many participants in such activities that building stones can belong to, and provide evidence of, both a natural and a built heritage can be a revelation.


Geoheritage Geotourism Urban geology Heritage stones Geosites 

Supplementary material

12371_2016_210_Fig20_ESM.gif (1.2 mb)
ESM 1(GIF 1184 kb)
12371_2016_210_MOESM1_ESM.tif (22.7 mb)
High resolution image (TIFF 23235 kb) (1.5 mb)
ESM 2(AI 1498 kb)


  1. Baudin F (2015) Geologic walk around La Défense. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 38pGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett MR, Doyle P, Larwood JG, Prosser CD (1996) Geology on your doorstep: the role of urban geology in earth heritage conservation. Geological Society, London, 270ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Billet G, Bonnefoy B, De Wever P, Houssaye A, Merle D (2008) Promenade géologique à Etampes. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 28p.Google Scholar
  4. Blanc A (1996) Nature et origine des pierres des monuments, Ed. Geopre, 190 p.Google Scholar
  5. Borghi A, D’Atri A, Martire L, Castelli D, Costa E, Dino G, Favero Longo SE, Ferrando S, Gallo LM, Giardino M, Groppo C, Piervittori R, Rolfo F, Rossetti P, Vaggelli G (2014) Fragments of the Western Alpine chain as historic ornamental stones in Turin (Italy): enhancement of urban geological heritage through geotourism. Geoheritage 6:41–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boulton GS (2001) The earth system and the challenge of global change. In: Gordon JE, Leys KF (eds) Earth science and the natural heritage: interactions and integrated management. Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh, pp. 26–54Google Scholar
  7. Branger FD (2012) Promenade géologique à Niort. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 38pGoogle Scholar
  8. Cailleaux D (1997) Un chargement de pierres de Saint-Leu pour le chantier de la cathédrale de Sens à la fin du Moyen-Age. In: Lorenz J, Benoit P, Obert D (eds) Pierres & Carrières. Géologie-Archéologie-Histoire. Actes Journées Claude Lorenz 17 & 18 Nov 1995. AGBP-AEDEH, pp 191–198Google Scholar
  9. Camerman C (1955a) Le sous-sol de Bruxelles et ses anciennes carrières souterraines. Annales des Travaux Publics et de la Reconstruction, 2, pp 5–28 (in French)Google Scholar
  10. Camerman C (1955b) Le sous-sol de Bruxelles et ses anciennes carrières souterraines. Annales des Travaux Publics et de la Reconstruction, 3, pp. 51–66 (in French)Google Scholar
  11. Clarke G (1991) Geology and the public at the Natural History Museum. Geol Today 7(6):217–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collectif (1998) Roches de France: pierres, marbres, granits, grès et autres roches ornementales et de construction. Edition Pro Roc, 226pGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper BJ, Marker BR, Pereira D, Schouenborg B (2013) Establishment of the “Heritage Stone Task Group” (HSTG). Episodes, v. 36, pp 8–10Google Scholar
  14. De Kock T, Boone M, Dewanckele J, De Ceukelaire M, Cnudde V (2015) Lede Stone: a potential “Global Heritage Stone Resource” from Belgium, Episodes 38–2, pp 91–96Google Scholar
  15. De Wever P, Reynaud JY, Rotaru M (2010)—Géologie et vin. Bull. Soc. Géologique de l’Ardèche. no. 4, pp 37–46Google Scholar
  16. De Wever P, Egoroff G, Cornée A, Lalanne A (eds) (2014) Géopatrimoine en France. - Mém. H.S. Soc. géol. Fr., 14, 180pGoogle Scholar
  17. De Wever P, Alterio I, Egoroff G, Cornée A, Bobrowsky P, Collin G, Duranthon F, Hill W, Lalanne A, Page K (2015a) Geoheritage, a National Inventory in France. Geoheritage 7(3):205–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. De Wever P, Cadet JP, Gavillot Y, Obert D, McKeever P (2015b) Geologic walk atUNESCO. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Baladesgéologiques), 39pGoogle Scholar
  19. Del Lama EA, La Corte Bacci D, De Martins L, Motta-Garcia M, da Glória, Dehira LK (2015) Urban geotourism and the old centre of Sao Paulo City, Brazil. Geoheritage 7:147–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Devleeschouwer X, Pouriel F (2006) Brussels urban geology (BUG): a 2D and 3D model of the underground by means of GIS. IAEG2006 Paper number 416. Available online at:
  21. Devon E, Parkins J, Workman D (2001) Bath in stone: a guide to the city’s building stones. Thematic Trails, 48 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Díez Herrero A, Vegas Salamanca J (2011) De roca a roca: Descubre el Patrimonio Geológico de la ciudad de Segovia. Ayuntamiento de Segovia, Concejalía de Turismo, 95 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Dove J (1994) Exeter in Stone: an urban geology. Thematic Trails 4:45ppGoogle Scholar
  24. Dreesen R, Dusar M (2004) Historical building stones in the province of Limburg (NE Belgium): role of petrography in provenance and durability assessment. Material characterization 53:273–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dugué O, Dujardin L, Leroux P et Savary X (2010) La Pierre de Caen. Des dinosaures aux cathédrales. Ed. Charles Corlet, 112pGoogle Scholar
  26. Dujardin L (1993) L’aire de dispersion de la pierre de Caen. Actes 117° Congr. nat. Soc. Sav., Clermont-Ferrand, Carrières et Constructions en France et dans les pays limitrophes, t. II, pp 431–444Google Scholar
  27. Egoroff G, De Wever P, Cornée A (2014) Outreach geology with the “balades géologiques” project based on smartphone technology. Communication and abstract, EGU General Assembly 2014, Vienna (Austria)Google Scholar
  28. Egoroff G, De Wever P, Cornée A, Lalanne A (2016) The national geological heritage inventory in France. In: Cornée A, Egoroff G, De Wever P, Lalanne A, Duranthon F (eds) (2016) Actes du congrès international “Les inventaires du géopatrimoine”, 22–26 septembre 2015, Toulouse. Mém. H.S. Soc. Géol. Fr., 16, xx-yyGoogle Scholar
  29. Fermeli G, Meléndez-Hevia G, Koutsouveli A, Dermitzakis M, Calonge A, Steininger F, D’Arpa C, DiPatti C (2015) Geoscience teaching and student interest in secondary schools—preliminary results from an interest research in Greece, Spain and Italy. Geoheritage 7:13–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fronteau G, Moreau C, Thomachot-Schneider C, Barbin V (2010) Variability of some Lutetian building stones from the Paris Basin, from characterization to conservation. Eng Geol 115(3–4):158–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gauthier A (1992) Corse, in Pomerol C. dir. (2000) Terroirs et Monuments de France. Éd. BRGM, pp 76–89Google Scholar
  32. Groessens E (1992) La diffusion du Marbre de Rance en France. Actes 117° Congr. nat. Soc. Sav., Clermont-Ferrand, Carrières et Constructions en France et dans les pays limitrophes, t. II, p 193–211Google Scholar
  33. Groessens E (2012) “Les marbres de Flandres et du Hainaut à Versailles”, Bulletin du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles [En ligne], | 2012, mis en ligne le 19 janvier 2016, consulté le 27 mai 2016. URL:; doi:10.4000/crcv.11973
  34. Jonin M, Chauris L (2012) Promenade géologique à Brest. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 38pGoogle Scholar
  35. Juignet P (1992) De Pont-Audemer au Mont-Saint-Michel, in Pomerol C. (dir.) (2000). Terroirs et Monuments de France. Éd. BRGM, pp 244–251Google Scholar
  36. Keene P (1996) Self-guided trails as a technique for site interpretation; a review of nature Conservancy Council site-guide projects, in Page, K.N., Keene, P., Edmonds, R.P.H. and Hose, T.A. Earth Heritage Site Interpretation in England: a review of principle techniques with case studies. English Nature Research Report 176: 7–14Google Scholar
  37. King C (2015) The International Geosciences Syllabus and its development. Episodes 38–1:57–74Google Scholar
  38. Macadam JD (2003) Potential European Geoparks, and the present state of geotourism, geoconservation, and geo-education in Cornwall, south-west Britain. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Geological Heritage Protection and Local Development, Sigri, Lesvos Island, Greece 2003. Report of the 2nd European Geoparks Network MeetingGoogle Scholar
  39. Malfilatre C, Boulvais P, Dabard M-P, Bourquin S, Hallot E, Pallix D, Gapais D (2012) Petrographical and geochemical characterization of Comblanchien limestone (Bourgogne, France): a fingerprint of the building stone provenance. C.R. Geoscience 344:14–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Malfilatre C, Hallot E, Boulvais P, Poujol M, Chauvin A, Gapais D, Dabard MP, Bourquin S, Pallix D (2014) Fingerprinting the provenance of building stones: a case study on the Louvigné and Lanh lin granitic rocks (Armorica massif, France). Bull Soc Géol Fr t.185, no. 1, pp 13–31Google Scholar
  41. Mansur KL, Nascimento V (2007) Popularización del conocimiento geológico: metodología del proyecto Caminhos Geológicos. Enseñanza Cienc Tierra 15:77–84Google Scholar
  42. Mondéjar FG (2008) La Ciencia de la Geología y el Patrimonio Geológico: Cultural Social y Ordenación del Territorio. In: Martínez CR, Perelló JMM (eds) Actas del primer congreso internacional sobre Geología y Minería en la Ordenación del Territorio y en el Desarrollo, Utrillas (Teruel). Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña. pp 15–37Google Scholar
  43. Moreau Ch. (2008) Promenade géologique à La Rochelle. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 31pGoogle Scholar
  44. Nespereira J, Blanco JA, Yenes M, Pereira D (2010) Opal cementation in tertiary sandstones used as ornamental stones. Eng Geol 115:167–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Obert D, Steinberg M, Dartigues JC (2012a) Promenade géologique à Paris 5e. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 38pGoogle Scholar
  46. Obert D, Steinberg M, Dartigues JC (2012b). Promenade géologique à Paris 11e. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 34pGoogle Scholar
  47. Obert D, Steinberg M, Dartigues JC (2015) Geological Walk in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 42pGoogle Scholar
  48. Orsini JB, Ferrandini M, Di Medglio A, Ferrandini J (2015) Promenade géologique à Bonifacio. Biotope, Mèze—MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 30 pGoogle Scholar
  49. Palacio-Prieto JL (2015) Geoheritage within cities: urban geosites in Mexico city. Geoheritage 7:365–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pereira D, Cooper B (2014) Building stone as part of a World Heritage site: ‘Piedra Pajarilla’ granite and thecity of Salamanca (Spain). In: Cassar J, Winter MG, Marker BR, Walton NRG, Entwisle DC, Bromhead EN and Smith JWN (eds) Stone in historic buildings: characterization and performance. Geological Society of London, Special Publications 391, pp 7–16Google Scholar
  51. Pereira D, González-Neila C (2015) The Global Heritage Stone concept. In: European Quarry Landscapes. Ayuntamiento de Teruel, SpainGoogle Scholar
  52. Pereira D, Marker B (2016) The value of original natural stone in the context of architectural heritage. Geosciences 2016(6):13. doi:10.3390/geosciences6010013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pereira D, Gimeno A, del Barrio S (2015) Piedra Pajarilla: a candidacy as a global heritage stone resource for Martinamor granite. In: Global heritage stone: towards international recognition of building and ornamental stones. Geol Soc Spec Publ 407:93–100Google Scholar
  54. Pereira D, Schouenborg B, Sabina K, De Wever P (2016) Heritage stones as part of the Global Heritage. IGC abstract 3364Google Scholar
  55. Perkins JW, Brooks AT, Pearce AE McR (1979) Bath stone: a quarry history. Department of Extra-mural studies, University College Cardiff and Kingsmead Press, Bath, 54 ppGoogle Scholar
  56. Pomerol C (2000) Terroirs et Monuments de France. Éditions du BRGM, 368 pGoogle Scholar
  57. Pomerol C (2006) Terroirs et Maisons de France. Créer, collection terroirs, 446 pGoogle Scholar
  58. Stewart IS, Nield T (2013) Earth stories: context and narrative in the communication of popular geosciences. Proc Geol Assoc 124:699–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Thomas BA,Warren LM (2008). Geological conservation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Burek C V and Prosser C D The History of Geoconservation. Geological Society Special Publication 300, 17-30.Google Scholar
  60. Tourneur F, Pereira D (2016) “Belgian black and red marbles” as potential candidates for global heritage stone resource. Geophys Res Abst 18:GU2016–2933Google Scholar
  61. U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (1972) General Conference, 17th, 1972, Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. ParisGoogle Scholar
  62. von Gnielinski F, Siemon J (2012) Self-guided walking tour featuring building stones through Brisbane CPD. 34th International Geological CongressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Muséum National Histoire NaturelleParisFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Universités, UPMC - Univ. Paris 06ParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  4. 4.School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencePlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

Personalised recommendations