Geosites are formations that in one way or another are special or distinguishable from other similar formations, due to age, chemical composition etc. The word geosite does not imply anything about the importance of the site. Geosites that are rare or special should be protected from disruption by all means. The word geosite has a broad meaning and includes the factors that control the formation of land.
The general criteria taken into account when assessing the conservation value of geosites are numerous. Following are examples of the main criteria:
- Diversity and rarity, size, contiguity and relation to formation, visual value and beauty.
- International importance, e.g., information value, scientific and research value.
- A rare example of geological formation, event or period.
- Value due to changes in environment or climatic history.
- Value due to evolution of life.
- Cultural value, e.g., due to religion or history.
The main threats to geosites are construction work, but also erosion or changes on land often due to human impact. The main causes of damage to geosites are:
- Destruction – can be caused by exploitation of certain minerals.
- Reduction – caused by paths, roads, construction work etc.
- Cover – caused by reservoirs, inhabited areas, landfills, soil reclamation, afforestation etc.
Priority in conservation from a professional point of view could for instance be given to places where:
- Geosites are well preserved and have a scientific importance.
- History of geological periods or events is preserved.
- A lot of research has been carried out and a long history of research exists.
- Research can be repeated.
- A lot of geological knowledge has been supplied.
- A certain period has been researched and described (reference site).
- Geosites are unique on a global scale and/or are special for Iceland.
No minerals are protected especially in Iceland, although two sites are protected due to the diverse minerals found there. There is, however, cause for protection of several minerals and formations, e.g., stalagmites and stalactites in lava caves, various zeolites, old geyserites etc.
Protected mineral sites in Iceland:
Teigarhorn in Berufjörður fjord – mainly because of zeolites.
Helgustaðanáma in Reyðarfjörður fjord – mainly because of Iceland spar.