The petrified forest of Lesvos and the volcanic caldera of Santorini are included in the top 100 monuments of the world’s Geological Heritage. This was decided by the competent international committee, as it became known today, October 6, World Biodiversity Day.

The International Union of Geological Sciences in collaboration with UNESCO took the initiative to create a list of the top areas of geological interest worldwide. In this context, the International Geological Heritage Committee (IUGS-IGC) undertook the implementation of an International Program with the aim of recording and evaluating the identification of the first 100 Geological Heritage Monuments. It should be noted that according to the Commission, a Geological Heritage Site (IUGSGeologicalHeritageSite) is defined as an area that contains geological elements or geological processes of international scientific scope, which is used as a point of reference or has made a decisive contribution to the development of the Geosciences over time.

– The petrified forest of Lesvos is a preserved natural monument. The nomination file was submitted by the Museum of Natural History of the Lesvos Petrified Forest and was prepared by a scientific team of Professor N. Zouros (University of the Aegean), Professor N. Soulakellis (University of the Aegean), and Drs. H. Valiakos and K. Bendana.

– The caldera of Santorini. The Municipality of Thira co-decided on the submission of a nomination file in collaboration with a scientific team consisting 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 IUGS Geological Heritage Sites 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 World Geopark) in Spain on 25-28 October 2022.

The nomination of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos will be presented by Professor N. Zouros and the nomination of the Caldera of Santorini by Associate Professor P. Nomikou.

The Petrified Forest of Lesvos

The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is a rare petrified forest ecosystem that includes large concentrations of petrified trees and animal fossils that were covered by volcanic material and fossilized in place 18 million years ago. Inside layers of volcanic ash fossilized trunks are revealed standing and lying, branches, roots, fruits and leaves of trees as well as fossilized bones and animal teeth. Important fossil-bearing areas are also found in the coastal zone and in the marine area west of Lesvos.

Impressive volcanic geosites can also be found in the area of ​​the Petrified Forest, which bear witness to the intense volcanic activity of the past. By Presidential Decree (PD 443/1985) the Petrified Forest was declared a natural conservation monument.

The 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 that has been used for decades by schools to implement environmental education activities and universities in earth sciences, geohazards and climate change.

The Caldera of Santorini

The caldera of Santorini, with its mesmerizing geomorphology, the unique volcanic formations that make it up and its amazing geological history, is a focal point worldwide not only for tourism but also scientifically, with a number of scientists from Greek and International Universities implementing remarkable research projects in the area.

Its wider promotion and protection, as a result of its successful inclusion in the 100 most important geological monuments worldwide, will give the opportunity to a large number of visitors as well as to the island’s own inhabitants to appreciate the greatness of the processes of our planet in this so important corner of Greece.

In Santorini, visitors can connect with the Earth by observing the successive layers of lava and ash that built the island over time but also by admiring the imposing slopes created as a result of one of the most violent and decisive volcanic eruptions in history, in order to understand and appreciate its power.

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