GSA Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, Colorado

Paper No. 233-3
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM


PAN, Yu-Yen, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada

Located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, Yehliu Peninsula is a tourist hotspot that attracts 10 thousand people per day. Stretching 1700 m into the ocean, this monocline peninsula is known for its spectacular landscapes: geological features such as hoodoos, wave-cut platforms, sea arches/notches, trace fossils, body fossils, and honeycombed sandstones can all be found. With its scientific, environmental, and societal significance, Yehliu has become the first GeoPark in Taiwan. The goals of the park are to excite, engage, and educate the public.

In January 2021, a paper was published about an unknown, giant trace fossil discovered in Yehliu. This trace fossil (later named Pennichnus formosae), was a dwelling of ancient Bobbit worms and is the first trace fossil named in Taiwan. Recognizing its value, the research team cooperated with journalists, science communicators, photographers, and the Department of Tourism, to hold a scicomm campaign to circulate the study beyond academia. As new educational content is always welcomed, Yehliu Geopark assists the research team with a huge exhibition space and numerous trained guides, laying a foundation for the campaign.

The result of the campaign is inspiring, as numerous communication products were generated with a limited budget (e.g., video, popular science articles, an exhibition, and a virtual reality geotour). According to observations from the park staff, the products were successful at engaging public audiences. In summary, this initiative demonstrates that with purposeful strategies, a scientific study can evolve into a formal public engagement campaign.