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Update on the Volcanic Geoheritage Values of the Pliocene to Quaternary Arxan–Chaihe Volcanic Field, Inner Mongolia, China

Abstract

The Pliocene to Quaternary small-volume monogenetic volcanic field of the Arxan–Chaihe Volcanic Field (ACVF) hosts some typical volcanic landforms associated with continental basaltic volcanism. The volcanic field volcanic geoheritage values were used to establish two geoparks in 2004 and 2010 based on the volcanic geoheritage values of this region. The geoeducational program was quickly designed but shows signs of some lack of full understanding of the volcanic architecture of the region. This manifests in some misinterpretation of volcanic features that are relatively well-established and known elsewhere, and hence it hinders the effectiveness of the correct scientific information transition via geoeducational programs and geotourism. The geoparks established an excellent logistical network to promote volcanic geoscience, funded new educational centres and the local area economic growth created a situation that geotourism can be the main sector in economic growth in this part of Inner Mongolia. On the basis of these positive signs, we revisited some of the key volcanic geotopes of the region and cross-checked the already identified and established geosites mostly located in volcanologically important areas. There have been four major geotope groups identified such as (1) the scoria and spatter cones, (2) the lava flows and their surface morphological features, (3) the maar volcanism and its pyroclastic deposits and (4) the landscape and sedimentary evidence to demonstrate landscape evolution in a volcanically influenced continental region. Here, we provide new field observation-based evidence to demonstrate the volcanic geoheritage values of these geotopes. This information can be transmitted easily to the general public on the significance and formation of (1) scoria and spatter cones; (2) tumuli, pressure ridges, hornitos and various pahoehoe and transitional lava flow surface textures that are well-preserved on Quaternary lava flow surfaces; (3) base surge dominated tephra ring successions and large maars; and (4) landscape that evolved through the interplay of terrestrial sedimentation and monogenetic volcanic eruption influenced volcanic activity. The complex processes that can be seen at the ACVF make this field a high volcanic geodiversity one that can be used for a near-future application for UNESCO Global Geopark status.

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Acknowledgements

The field visit and subsequent work was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences invitation and grant. During the field work, we express our thanks to all of our local hosts for providing a very effective and comfortable stay in the field and expert guidance to see the geoeducational, geoconservational and geotouristic aspects of the geoparks, especially through their volcanic geoheritage values. Karoly Nemeth also appreciates the Massey University Short Leave Permit needed to be able to conduct the field work. Reviewers’ comments from Peter Bitschene, Ingomar Fritz and Tom Casadewall as well as the editorial work by Kevin Page increased the quality and clarity of the original manuscript dramatically. Many thanks for the suggestions and comments.

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Németh, K., Wu, J., Sun, C. et al. Update on the Volcanic Geoheritage Values of the Pliocene to Quaternary Arxan–Chaihe Volcanic Field, Inner Mongolia, China. Geoheritage 9, 279–297 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-017-0224-5

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Keywords

  • Volcanic geoheritage
  • Monogenetic volcanic field
  • Scoria cone
  • Tuff ring
  • Maar
  • Base surge
  • Crater lake
  • Pahoehoe
  • Aa lava
  • Tumuli
  • Hornito