Introduction to the Geology of Devon

Key Geological Features

What is Geodiversity?

The Importance of Geological Conservation

What are County Geological Sites?

County Geological Sites Across Devon

Identification & Monitoring of Sites

Educational Use & Visiting Sites

South-West Regional Geodiversity Partnership


Links & Resources

Contact Us


County Geological Sites are places in Devon that are considered to be especially important for the geology they exhibit. They are mostly old quarries, pits, roadside cuttings and other excavations which expose rocks normally covered by soil and vegetation. Some sites are natural exposures of interesting rocks in river banks and cliffs, and others are fine views which demonstrate how the underlying geology and forces of erosion have shaped the landscape.

On a national level, important geological sites are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), consisting of statutorily protected land. County Geological Sites are not a legal or statutory designation, but they are valuable enough to the region to deserve recognition. Geologists in the County have helped the Devon RIGS Group in identifying and describing these sites.

RIGS are an important educational, historical, and recreational resource. The following criteria are used for site selection, taken from the Nature Conservation Committee (NCC) strategy:

  • Education – for fieldwork in primary and secondary schools, at undergraduate level, and in adult education courses.

  • Scientific Study/Research – by professional/amateur Earth scientists. These sites demonstrate the geology/geomorphology of an area, either alone or as part of a network.

  • Historical – for their important advances in Earth science knowledge or economic important.

  • Aesthetic – qualities to the landscape, particularly for promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth Sciences.

All County Geological Sites can be divided in to the following two categories:

  1. Integrity sites – sites whose scientific/educational value lies in their finite and limited deposits or landforms that are irreplaceable if destroyed (i.e. the quality of the geology).

  2. Exposure sites – sites whose scientific/educational value lies in their extensive or plentiful exposures on the surface or underground (i.e. the amount of geology exposed).

It is hoped that by recognising localities as County Geological Sites, activities which might damage or destroy their geological value will be avoided. The group, working together with local authorities and other public bodies, try to safeguard sites from harm and inappropriate development through the planning system. In addition, by working with the owners/occupiers of sites, the group hopes to promote their positive management.