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Conservation of geological heritage sites: La Rioja (Spain) dinosaur footprints

Garcia-Ortiz, E., I. Fuertes-Gutierrez & E. Fernandez-Martinez. 2014.
Concepts and terminology for the risk of degradation of geological
heritage sites: fragility and natural vulnerability, a case study.
Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, available online 21 August


ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on the conservation of geological
heritage sites and specifically on the assessment of the risk of
degradation. A review of the relevant literature shows (a) a lack of a
standardised terminology used by different authors and (b) a lack of a
standard methodology that supports the recognition and prevention of
threats affecting a geosite. Three criteria (previous studies, the
most common meaning of the words used and the use of terms in related
disciplines) were used to select four terms with which to assess the
risk of degradation: sensitivity, fragility, natural vulnerability and
anthropic vulnerability. This paper provides a detailed description
and discussion of these terms and their relevance. To test the use of
these terms, an analysis of the fragility and natural vulnerability of
geosites was performed in La Rioja (Spain), where more than one
hundred outcrops bearing exceptional dinosaur footprints are located.
The main factors that affect the fragility of these geosites are
related to the lithology and to the location and typology of the
ichnite. With respect to natural vulnerability, this study reveals
several factors and processes that are involved in the degradation of
these sites and establishes several field indicators that indicate
deterioration. This research was intended to establish a common
framework for specialists (both scientists and managers) working on
geoconservation issues.

Keywords: Geosites, Risk of degradation, Sensitivity, Fragility,
Vulnerability, Dinosaur sites