Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Geology (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

William I. Rose

Committee Member 1

John S. Gierke

Committee Member 2

Carol MacLennan

Committee Member 3

Benjamin van Wyk de Vries


The Keweenaw Peninsula is a compelling intersection of cultural, industrial, and mining heritage - all of which is rooted in its ancient geologic underpinnings. The incredible geodiversity of the Keweenaw expresses a billion year geologic history that has shaped the landscape and resulted in the discovery of one of the largest native copper deposits on Earth; in turn, originating one of the oldest metal workings in the Western Hemisphere, and the famed mining boom of the Keweenaw in the late 1800’s. This rich human story intertwined with globally significant geosites has endowed the Keweenaw with a strong geoheritage.

Geoheritage considers the protection, management, and conservation of landscapes and geologic features and the varied personal values assigned to them. This variation affords the opportunity to communicate the societal importance of Earth science in a way that resonates with people personally. A prolific outreach and education initiative has been developed in the Keweenaw embodying this philosophy; a breadth of activities and engagement strategies employed are described herein.

The innovative outreach efforts in the Keweenaw support the overall advancement of geoheritage at the national level as the US begins to engage an evolved and growing global community. The advancement of geoheritage in the US is concomitant with the emergence of the US Geoheritage and Geoparks Advisory Group. UNESCO Geoparks are community developed initiatives that encourage education, sustainable economic development, and the conservation of places with globally significant geology in tandem with an intriguing cultural story. The Keweenaw categorically meets all criteria for a geopark designation and as such could be the first in the United States.

The benefits of geoheritage in the Keweenaw Peninsula are vast and include: increased Earth science literacy; the development of sustainable economic opportunities; enhancement of a “sense of pride” in locals; and increased stewardship, conservation and appreciation of abiotic nature. Through a thriving community partnership, geoheritage is directly contributing to the overall well-being of this unique and captivating community.