For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.
America's Geologic Heritage
Geologic Heritage encompasses the significant geologic features, landforms, and landscapes characteristic of our Nation which are preserved for the full range of values that society places on them, including scientific, aesthetic, cultural, ecosystem, educational, recreational, tourism, and other values. Geologic Heritage sites are conserved so that their lessons and beauty will remain as a legacy for future generations.
Such areas generally have great potential for scientific studies, use as outdoor classrooms, and enhancing public understanding and enjoyment. Geologic heritage sites are fundamental to understanding dynamic earth systems, the succession and diversity of life, climatic changes over time, evolution of landforms, and the origin of mineral deposits.
- Geologic heritage definitions
- Values of geologic heritage sites and other protected areas
- Geologic heritage conservation references
Geologic Heritage in the National Parks
Geologic heritage sites can be found throughout the National Park System. The National Park System contains 254 parks with fossil resources, 94 parks with 4,700 known caves, and another 59 parks with known karst systems. Ninety-seven parks protect 7,500 miles of shoreline, 52 parks contain geothermal systems, 38 parks have volcanoes as a major feature, and 37 have active glacial features. Parks also contain a tremendous diversity of landforms including dunes, arches, canyons, buttes, and escarpments. Park museum collections have more than 35,000 geological specimens and nearly 416,000 paleontological specimens.
In addition to these geologic resources, the Park Service is responsible for administering the National Natural Landmarks program and the National Register of Historic Places, and provides support for U.S. participation in the World Heritage Convention. Each of these programs contribute to the preservation of America's geologic heritage.
Learn about the conservation, protection, and interpretation of fossils. All fossils in the National Park System are protected and managed in keeping with Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) Learn more...
Caves are some of the most fragile and easily damaged environments on earth. All caves on National Park Service-administered lands are deemed to be significant and protected under the National Cave Resources Protection Act. Learn more...
An overview of National Park Service programs that contribute to the preservation of America's geologic heritage. Learn more...
The best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks. Explore America's geologic heritage through a thematic tour of park geology, Park Geology Fieldnotes webpages, and visit the "geologic wonders" of national parks. Learn more...
Last Updated: June 24, 2015