GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 149-2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


GRAY, John, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS, United Kingdom, BRILHA, Jose, University of Minho, Earth Science Centre, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, 4710-057, Portugal, MATTHEWS, Jack J., Oxford University Natural History Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom and ZWOLINSKI, Zbigniew, Institute of Geoecology and Geoinformation, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

Geodiversity is the abiotic equivalent of biodiversity and has been defined as “the natural range (diversity) of geological (rocks, minerals, fossils), geomorphological (landforms, topography, physical processes), soil and hydrological features. It includes their assemblages, structures, systems and contributions to landscapes” (Gray, 2013). This diversity has been brilliantly exploited by human societies for millennia from the Stone Age and Iron Age to the Oil Age and Silicon Age. The value that nature brings to society is nowadays often expressed in terms of “ecosystem services”. These are the goods and functions of natural ecosystems that “sustain and fulfill human life” (Daily, 1997), but this ecosystem services approach has rarely included abiotic nature. This presentation will outline about 25 “geosystem services” - ways in which society benefits from the planet’s geodiversity. In fact, geodiversity is so important to our modern society that we simply couldn’t live without it.

For this reason, we have been working to persuade the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish an International Geodiversity Day on 6thOctober each year starting in 2022. UNESCO’s Executive Board has already approved the proposal with support from over 70 nations. A final decision is due in November this year at UNESCO’s General Meeting. If approved, the day will allow the international geoscience community to promote the importance of geodiversity in every person’s life. Further details are on the website


Gray M. (2013) Geodiversity: valuing and conserving abiotic nature, 2nded: Wiley Blackwell, UK.

Daily G. (1997) Nature’s services: societal dependence on natural ecosystems: Island Press,

Washington DC.