“A magical bridge between community and science”
The geology substratum and morphogenesis processes during the last thousands of years under different climate conditions determined the underlying landscape of Grutas del Palacio UNESCO Global Geopark. A succession of more or less arid to humid periods remodeled the area. The relief is characterized by extent plains between small hills with low slopes. Some flat terrain produced more infiltration where chemical weathering and physical processes produce inselberg areas in granite lithologies and thick soils that support fertile prairies. Uruguay is a water-rich land and the UNESCO Global Geopark has important bodies of water that mark its limits.
In Grutas del Palacio UNESCO Global Geopark every eon is represented by different kinds of rocks and sediments. Proterozoic, Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic ages can be observed. The geology is characterized in two distinct sectors: central and southern proterozoic crystalline embasement composed by granites, gneisses and metamorphic belts with magmatic intrusions. It is mainly constituted of granites, granodiorites, quartzites, hornblendites and several gabbro dykes. In the northern portion a small and isolated area of Permian conglomerates and sandstones that belong to Parana Basin represent old alluvial fans environments. Mesozoic sedimentation of conglomerates and wackes deposited by Cretaceous fluvial environments and Cenozoic conglomerate and sandstone interbedding with non-depositional sediments like palaeosoils are exposed. Some Holocene terrace deposits and fluvial erosion processes generated during last four decades are exposed in a coastline lake. This geodiversity in a small territory allows visitors to experience a wide vision of the evolution of the history of Earth.
The Grutas del Palacio UNESCO Global Geopark is strongly connected with primary and secondary schools in Flores department. Several geoeducation and environmental projects have been carried out both in the classroom and the field. A special publication for students was prepared in 2013. There is a very active local Fair of Science Clubs. Every year some projects are selected related to the UNESCO Global Geopark for the National Fair of Science Clubs. Other education programs are carried out for geology students at the University. Mainly these curricular activities focus on geological mapping, geosites characterization and inventory conferences. Talks are underway with other UNESCO Global Geoparks to promote the relationship between students of Flores department with Spain, Portugal and China. Grutas del Palacio UNESCO Global Geopark is the way to promote local development based on geological and historical heritage and the most relevant instruments are geo-tourism, geoeducation, sports and culture.