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UNESCO Geopark Status for Maharashtra and Karnataka



  Mar 30, 2024

UNESCO Geopark Status for Maharashtra and Karnataka



Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and the duo of St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka

In an ambitious move by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), two geological marvels in India are on their path to gaining international recognition as UNESCO Global Geoparks. The initiative targets Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and the duo of St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka, marking a significant step in showcasing India’s geological heritage on the global stage.

St. Mary’s Island: A Geological Marvel

• Geological Significance: St. Mary’s Island, known for its striking hexagonal basaltic rocks, is an 88-million-year-old formation. This geological feature dates back to the period when Greater India drifted away from Madagascar, offering a tangible window into the Earth’s evolutionary history.

• Heritage Recognition: Declared a national geo-heritage site in 1975, St. Mary’s Island stands as a testament to India’s ancient geological past, preserved remarkably through millions of years.

Lonar Lake: A Crater of Cosmic Origin

• Unique Formation: Lonar Lake, formed from a meteorite impact on basaltic rock around 50,000 years ago, boasts a near-perfect circular shape. It is recognized as the world’s only known meteorite crater in basaltic rock, making it a site of global geological interest.

• Heritage Designation: Since being designated as a geo-heritage site in 1979, Lonar Crater has attracted scientists and tourists alike, intrigued by its origins and geological uniqueness.

Path to Global Recognition

The journey towards being acknowledged as part of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network involves fulfilling a set of rigorous criteria, including the development of a dedicated website, a comprehensive management plan, protection strategies, and establishing financial and partnership frameworks. In August, GSI initiated the process, setting a 100-day timeline to advance its plan.

Significance of the Geopark Tag

Achieving UNESCO Global Geopark status would not only highlight these sites’ geological significance but also promote them as destinations of educational and eco-touristic interest. This designation parallels the prestige of a ‘World Heritage Site’ but for natural landmarks, positioning India’s geological wonders on an international platform.

This endeavor by the GSI underscores the importance of preserving and celebrating India’s geodiversity, aiming to bring these natural spectacles to the forefront of global recognition and conservation efforts. The successful recognition of Lonar Lake and St. Mary’s Island as UNESCO Global Geoparks would mark a milestone in India’s commitment to its geological heritage, enriching both scientific knowledge and public appreciation for these natural phenomena.


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