2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


GODSEY, Holly S., Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, 135 S. 1460 E. Rm 719, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, CHAN, Marjorie A., Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Univ of Utah, 135 South 1460 East, Room 719, Salt Lake City, UT 84112 and DION, Andrea N., Dept. of Geography, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, godsey@earth.utah.edu

Geoantiquities are defined as natural records of earth surface processes that document environmental change on local, regional, and global scales. From sand bars and spits, to alluvial fans and glacial moraines, geoantiquities are as diverse as the processes that shape them. Developing a systematic method for identifying, documenting, and prioritizing potential geoantiquity heritage sites is key to their preservation. However, due to variability in size, shape, nature, exposure, preservation, access, and human impact, no single approach is suitable for all geoantiquities. Shoreline remnants of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and associated Ice Age glacial deposits provided the impetus for the geoantiquities concept. Many of these features served as the basis for seminal studies on river delta terminology, crustal isostasy, and climate change. These landforms lie in juxtaposition with the urban communities along Utah's Wasatch Front and occupy both privately and publicly owned land. Development potential and variable land usage complicate conservation efforts in these areas and necessitate a multi-faceted approach to documentation and preservation. The Stockton Bar, the shorelines of the Tooele Army Depot, the glacial moraines of Little Cottonwood and Bells Canyons, Antelope Island, and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail are examples of the variety of potential geoantiquity heritage sites in the Wasatch Front region. Each of these sites contain valuable information about environmental change and are threatened, to some degree, by urbanization.

The concept of geoantiquity heritage areas parallels the UNESCO Geoparks model for preservation of sites with scientific importance. However, a Geopark must be economically viable (e.g., as a tourist destination), a distinction very few geoantiquities could attain. Geoantiquities are usually young, geomorphic landscapes that are easily destroyed and are often valued more for their housing development or mining potential than their scientific importance. In addition, these geoantiquities are often overlooked given the abundance of striking landscapes in nearby national parks. Exploring possibilities of linking geoantiquities with international geoconservation efforts might enhance preservation strategies of scientifically valuable landscapes.