Montpellier-le-Vieux, where erosion has carved the Upper Bathonian dolomite (Mid. Jurassic) into ruiniform shapes. such as the Mycène rock arch shown here (Causse Noir, Aveyron, S France, 2006). © BRGM - François Michel

Exploiting the geological heritage of the Pyrénées-Orientales département

12.13.2019
A new book about the Pyrénées-Orientales département has been published in BRGM’s Curiosités géologiques collection

Organ-pipe rock formations at Ille-sur-Têt (Pyrénées-Orientales).  © BRGM - Elisabeth Le Goff

The need

Since the Act of 27 February 2002 on local democracy, geological heritage has been an integral component of the vast inventory of natural heritage compiled for the whole of France, encompassing land, rivers and sea (Article L. 411-5 of the Environment Code). The geological heritage of the Pyrénées-Orientales is one of the richest in France, due to its diversity and abundance. Carried out from 2008 to 2013, the inventory of the département’s geological heritage, the result of close collaboration between the members of the Regional Geological Heritage Commission, a network of regional geologists, BRGM and DREAL, identified 51 remarkable geological sites, representing 896 km² (or 22% of the département’s territory). This fully-documented investigation, which runs through 600 million years of the Earth's history, is a valuable asset for science, education, culture, the economy and tourism. The Pyrénées-Orientales Departmental Council, with the support of BRGM, wished to promote this work and these remarkable sites to the general public, by publishing a guidebook to the département’s geological curiosities.

The results

In its introduction, the guidebook explains the close links between the geological landscape and those who live in it, including megaliths, garnets used in traditional local jewellery, mines (gold, talc, iron, etc.), hot springs, earthquakes, coastal erosion, and more. The guidebook then focuses on 23 particularly representative and educational sites: Cap Béar, Caune de l'Arago, the Clue de la Fou, the Orgues d'Ille-sur-Têt, the caves of Les Canalettes, the hot springs of Conflent-Cerdagne, the granite “Chaos” of Targassonne, etc.

Using the results

This book is the result of collaboration between BRGM and the Pyrénées-Orientales Departmental Council, with contributions from DDTM66, the Museum of Natural History of Perpignan, the Museum of Tautavel and the National Nature Reserve of La Massane as well as all the members of the Regional Commission for the Geological Heritage of Languedoc-Roussillon. Widely distributed to various actors in the département (elected officials, engineering design firms, teachers, natural reserve managers, associations, etc.), this guide aims to promote geological resources and make them an attractive asset for the territory while raising awareness among visitors regarding protection and preservation.

Testimony

“We are proud to be the first department in the Region to publish this guidebook. It helps us understand the relationships between natural heritage, the enhancement and protection of the environment, water and finally tourism.”

Hermeline Malherbe, President of the Pyrénées-Orientales Departmental Council, 5 October 2018.

The partners

  • Pyrénées-Orientales Departmental Council
  • Tautavel Museum
  • DDTM66
  • DREAL Occitanie
  • Regional Geological Heritage Commission
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