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Geoheritage Tour of Southern Arizona

Geotourism in the desert Southwest is powered by the intrinsic quality and accessibility of geoheritage sites or features. According to the Geological Society of America, “Geoheritage” applies to sites or areas of geologic features with ‘significant scientific, educational, cultural, and/or aesthetic value.’ This certainly includes a multitude of geologic features and landforms encountered in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico.

Identifying and preserving geoheritage sites serves the public good. Such sites are critical to furthering geoscience research and to informing the public regarding the inherent value of the landscapes and rockscapes that make the Southwestern U.S. a mecca for tourism.

Our new interactive Geoheritage Tour of Southern Arizona showcases a handful of the spectacular geologic feature within easy driving distance of downtown Tucson. Geologic features and related sites – museums and mining communities  - are organized under three tabs:
•    Within 15-mile radius of Tucson
•    From 15- to 75-mile radius
•    From 75- to 200-mile radius.

In each area, we spotlight and briefly describe 12 geologic features or sites, for a total of 36 geoheritage sites within a 200-mile radius of Tucson. Each geoheritage entry is accompanied by one or more online geologic resource(s), e.g., geologic map, report, or website.

The  Pinacate volcanic field, Arizona-Mexico example below exemplifies the project.

Let us know how we are doing. Please drop us a line on your thoughts to this approach of showcasing southern Arizona’s geoheritage sites for Arizonans and their visitors.

Pinacate volcanic field entry

Background. Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Madrean Sky Islands epitomize the evolving geoheritage concept; ‘geologic features with significant scientific, educational, cultural, and/or aesthetic value’ (from Geological Society of America position statement).

The Arizona Geological Survey identifies and characterizes Arizona’s geoheritage sites as part of our charge to ‘encourage the wise and prudent use of Arizona’s lands and mineral resources’. And there is no shortage of potential sites. A deeply abridged list of geoheritage sites includes: San Francisco, Uinkaret and San Bernardino volcanic fields, Grand Falls, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon National Monuments, the Chiricahua Mountains, Salt River Canyon, the Colorado, Gila, Verde, and San Pedro Rivers, monoclines of northern Arizona, the Virgin River Gorge, and the Kofa, Mohawk, and Gila Mountains of southwestern Arizona.