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Heritage Geology Sites in Pennsylvania

All of Pennsylvania’s heritage can be traced back to the rocks that underlie it -- every person, every plant and animal, and even the air that passes over are in some way connected to the underlying rocks.

Rocks form soil that affects what grows, provide support for anything on the surface, help to determine transportation paths and locations of towns, store water underground and direct water courses on the surface, change air flow, and contain the record of our landscape’s history.

Geoheritage sites are special places where we can learn about the geology and see the connections. The DCNR Pennsylvania Geological Survey strives to promote the awareness, appreciation, and conservation of the state’s heritage geologic features by documenting their presence.

The survey participates in the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP), which inventories plant and wildlife species, plant communities, and geologic features in Pennsylvania for which there is a conservation concern.

Visiting Heritage Geology Sites in Pennsylvania

The PNHP database contains more than 200 geologic features. A two-part report published by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey highlights many of those features:

These publications also show features that are being considered for the PNHP.

Some of the most interesting sites highlighted in the reports are on the DCNR Story Map 30 Outstanding Geologic Features in Pennsylvania.

Heritage Geology Sites Criteria

Heritage geology sites are based on assessment of the following criteria:

  • Scenic -- Degree of excellence and beauty of a scenic natural landscape that clearly displays the result of geologic processes over time
  • Educational, scientific -- Degree of excellence with which a feature displays aspects of the nature and development of geological, landform, or soil systems in its region; use as a teaching site to show geologic concept; frequency of citation in scientific papers; site of important measurement or discovery
  • Recreational -- Frequency of recreational usage
  • Social/historical -- Degree to which a feature has played a role in the life or development of past or present human communities
  • Sense of place -- Degree to which a human community regards a feature as integral to the identity of their place
  • Significance -- Degree to which a feature exemplifies an aspect of geodiversity that is rare, unique, an exceptional example, or otherwise of special importance
  • Conservation -- Condition of the natural values of a feature and the degree to which current land uses and land management practices are likely to protect those natural values given their inherent sensitivity


For more information regarding geoheritage sites or scenic geological features, contact the DCNR Bureau of Geological Survey at 717-702-2017.