Global Network of National Geoparks

Spreading the geological message success stories from marble arch caves European geopark

Published :April 16, 2008

K. Lemon1, R. Watson2 & P. Mckeever1
Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Stranmillis Court, Malone Lower, Belfast, BT9 5BX, Northern lreland, UK
2Marble Arch Caves European Geopark, Marlbank, Fiorencecourt, Co. Fermanagh, BT92 1EW, Northern Ireland, UK

Keywords: Ireland, outreach, general public, family activities

Geologists in the past have been notoriously poor at spreading their message, with fears of 'dumbing down' the science and a use of inappropriate language being just some of the barriers between them and the public. The European Geoparks Network aims to diminish this divide and help bring the delights of learning about the natural landscape to the general public.

Marble Arch Caves European Geopark has over the past two years been active in promoting the awareness of both Geoparks and the geology behind them by organizing a number of outreach activities. The events have not been restricted to any particular age group or social demographic and have been designed with the general public in mind so that everyone can enjoy and understand the landscape of Marble Arch Caves European Geopark.

Some of the most successful events have been family based activities focusing on a variety of aspects of the local geology. These have included family fun days with numerous hand-on activities, treasure hunts and orienteering as well, as guided walks and fossil tours. 'Laidback lectures' and associated guided walks have also proved to be very popular and have acted as insights into more exciting aspects of the local geology as well as investigating how the underlying geology has influenced the local archaeology and history.

By making the local geology more relevant, relaxed and above all else, fun, the gap between geologists and the landscape will we be successful in engaging the public's interest in the world around them.