Global Network of National Geoparks

Grevena - Kozani UNESCO Global Geopark

"Mesiano Nero Valley - The collision of tectonic plates"

Celebrating Earth Heritage

The  unifying  element  within  the Grevena-Kozani UNESCO Global Geopark is  its  recognition  as  one  of  the  global  sites  of  geoheritage  relating  to  the  birth  of  plate tectonic  theory,  and the  expression  this  tectonic  legacy  as the  source of  exceptional  landforms  and unique ecologic systems.

The Geopark region  was  first  studied  geologically  by  Jan  Brunn  in  the  years  before  World  War  II, finalized in his dissertation in 1956. Jan’s thesis described  sections  of  peridotite,  of  cumulate  rocks,  of lavas  and  oceanic  cherts,  and  stunning  photographs  of  their  settings.  In  1959,  on  reviewing  the descriptions  by  Maurice  Ewing  of  rocks   dredged  from  the  mid-Atlantic  ridge,   Jan  published  his observation that “the rocks of the Vourinos-Pindos  region  are  like  those  of  the  mid-Atlantic.” Thus, international scientific attention was drawn to the area, and in the 1960’s Eldridge Moores came to describe  these  rocks  that  so  resembled  those  formed  in  spreading  ridges:  his  description  of  Vourinos documented the ophiolite-oceanic lithosphere analogue, a major building block in the evolution of plate tectonic  theory, and the  Vourinos section remains  iconic  of  all  models  of  oceanic  lithosphere  to  this date.

The  study of  the  Geopark  Grevena-Kozani area  provided  an  essential  key  to  open  the  scientific world of plate tectonic theory. The region includes: the site of the oldest rocks in Greece found to date; sites  that  expose  the  geologic  history  and rifting processes surrounding the “birth” of the Tethyan Ocean and of Europe as an independent continental mass; Localities critical to the origin of plate tectonic theory; Preserved sections of the Jurassic Tethyan Lithosphere (Vourinos and Pindos ophiolites); Geologic landforms  among  the  most  exceptional  within  Europe  that  were  created  by  the  unique coincidence  of  plate  tectonic  structures  with  Ice  Age  glaciations; these  include  four  cataclysmic canyons. A  provenance  of  proboscideans  that  date  from  ~5mya  to ~100,000  years  and include  mammoth fossils with the “world record” longest tusks (5.06m); Among the “youngest” rocks of Greece including a paleosol section continuous from ~4my to present,and the only known locality of “hoodoos” in Greece. And... a natural physical environment in which traditional mountain villages strive to maintain time-honored  agricultural  practices and  develop  these to  become  competitive in  today’s economic conditions.

Sustaining local Communities

As an entry point to initiate international-scale geotouristic activities the region is ideal: the combination of  the  beauty  of  the landforms,  of  the  natural  attractions,  primeval  forests  and  ancient  woodlands,  an unspoiled biodiversity based in the region’s extreme and rare geodiversity, Hellenistic and Byzantine archeological  settings,  antique  stone  bridges,  and  touristic  venues  in  traditional  mountain  villages  is unsurpassed in Greece.

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Grevena - Kozani UNESCO Global Geopark
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