November 2008    Print this article

Symposium on Geological Heritage

As part of the Québec 2008 Conference(1), a symposium on geological heritage was held in May at the Centre des Congrès de Québec.

Presented by MRNF, the symposium Our Geological Heritage brought together 18 speakers from most Canadian provinces and elsewhere. The symposium was a resounding success in many regards. First, it drew an average of 50 to 70 participants per session—excellent considering the highly specialized subjects under discussion. Furthermore, the department counted among its speakers a leading expert in the preservation and promotion of geological heritage in the United Kingdom, Professor Murray Gray of the University of London. His very well-received lecture dealt with the principles and values of geodiversity, a term modeled on biodiversity, and discussed the dangers that threaten it and the importance of conserving it.

The symposium was divided into three sessions with the following themes:

Presentations in the first session dealt with concepts in geological heritage as well as outstanding geological sites in Québec, the rest of Canada, and Egypt, including the Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site this summer at a ceremony in the Ville de Québec. A report on the state of outstanding Québec geological sites was also presented. Close to twenty geological sites of interest were put forward as candidates for protected status and will be evaluated and classified as outstanding geological sites in the upcoming months.

Rivière du Sault Plat in the Sept-Îles region, which flows across a series of gigantic glacial grooves Rocher Percé, which, in addition to being an important Gaspésie tourist attraction, is a limestone monolith containing fascinating fossil fauna
Two examples of outstanding geological sites. Left: Rivière du Sault Plat in the Sept-Îles region, which flows across a series of gigantic glacial grooves. Right: Rocher Percé, which, in addition to being an important Gaspésie tourist attraction, is a limestone monolith containing fascinating fossil fauna. (Photos: MRNF)

Speakers in the second session dealt with the role of museums in the conservation of geological heritage. Many museums possess mineral, rock, and fossil collections. In Québec, three museums recognized by the gouvernement du Québec are primarily devoted to geology ( McGill University 's Redpath Museum, Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines, and Malartic's Musée minéralogique).

The third session was devoted to the teaching of earth sciences at various levels, the resources available for promoting geological heritage in education, and the efforts carried out during the International Year of Planet Earth toward understanding our geological heritage. During this session, the organization presented an innovative video of a pre-recorded talk by colleagues from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. This lively and dynamic format highlighted the Royal Tyrrell Museum 's efforts to promote its collection and globally recognized dinosaur knowledge. Notably, this presentation was also broadcast via videoconferencing to elementary and secondary school students in far-flung regions of Alberta.

To sum up, this symposium enabled the Department to take a leading role on a national level in promoting geological heritage.

(1) A conference organized by the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the Society of Economic Geology, and the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Products (SGA).

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© Gouvernement du Québec, 2008