For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.


Geologic Heritage in the National Parks

Yellowstone's Old Faithful
A park's geologic heritage is the foundation for its scenic grandeur. Internationally recognized geologic features such as Old Faithful, Delicate Arch, Devils Tower, and Half Dome are icons of 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 sites can be found throughout the National Park System. The National Park System contains 243 parks with fossil resources, 81 parks with 3,600 known caves, and another 40 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.


Featured Programs

Fossil Resources

Placeholder

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...

Cave and Karst Resources

cave

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...

Geologic Heritage Conservation

Placeholder

An overview of National Park Service programs that contribute to the preservation of America's geologic heritage. Learn more...

Park Geology Tour

Placeholder

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...



 

Related Links

 

↑ TOP OF PAGE

Last Updated: December 18, 2013