The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has laid out a plan to commemorate heritage locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka as Global Geoparks. It is a tag similar to that of  “World Heritage Site” wherein the geological features are highlighted on the global stage.

A geopark is basically a unified area that initiates the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way, promoting economic well-being of the people who live there, and also of course putting it on the global map thus initiating geo-tourism.

One of the sites is an ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra called the Lonar Lake or Lonar Crater. It became a geo-heritage site in 1979, and is relatively young geologically, at just 50,000 years old. A meteorite weighing two-million-tonnes slammed into the Earth, creating a 1.83-km diameter crater where the lake formed. Its most remarkable feature is a near-perfect, circular ejecta blanket around it, which is nothing but the earth thrown up during collision.

The other one is St. Mary’s Island off the coast of in they city of Udupi in Karnataka. It is a hexagonal mosaic of basaltic rocks that was formed by sub-aerial sub-volcanic activity, at a time when Madagascar was attached to India. The rifting of Madagascar took place around 88 million years ago.

St. Mary's Island, Karnataka

Image Courtesy: Getty

The road to recognition, however, is long and arduous. An aspiring Global Geopark must have a few pre-requisites for it to be accepted as a world heritage site. The most important things needed to be considered for the tag are: a dedicated website, corporate identity, a comprehensive management plan; and protection, finance and partnership plans.

These natural phenomenons are spectacular to look at even for the general public who may not understand that they are also geologically important. Lonar lake is probably the only known meteorite crater in basaltic rock in India and is world famous, while St. Mary’s Island is a unique phenomenon that has been preserved extremely well.