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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Varkala, along the southwestern coast of Peninsular India, has a unique place in Indian geology and geomorphology due to the presence of coastal lateritic cliffs, which exposes the entire Mio-Pliocene sequence of Warkalli Formation, and is declared as the type area. Stratigraphically, this formation exposes carbonaceous clay with lenses of lignite and sticks of marcasite, followed by variegated clays and sandstone. The presence of variegated lithounits endows beauty to these cliffs. Varkala cliffs, edging the Arabian Sea, run for a length of 7.5 km. These cliffs, together with confined beaches, made Varkala a popular tourist destination. Several geodiversity spots within the Varkala Cliff geoheritage site make Varkala geologically unique, just like the vestiges of the last separation of Indian subcontinent from the Mascarene Plateau; showcasing lateritization and distribution of beach placers, and jarosite, formed as a diagenetic replacement mineral from marcasite and considered as a Martian analog, are distinctiveness of the cliff. Additionally, Varkala is an internationally acclaimed beach tourist destination. Furthermore, there are several geoheritage sites as well as socio-cultural-historical sites in the hinterland of Varkala Cliff geoheritage site, which are within the proposed Varkala Global Geopark jurisdiction. Thus, this area fulfills all the criteria to be a Global Geopark. The socio-economic-environmental analysis showcases the changes that have occurred in these 3-end members. When the economic sphere was unaffected, the social scenario was slightly affected (25%) whereas the environmental aspect then drastically deteriorated by 75%. But, the SWOT analysis still elects Varkala as a potential Global Geopark. The concept of geopark contributes to at least one of the 17 goals in Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN). Consequently, this work also aims at propagating, not only the need for converting the geologically prominent areas to a geopark, but also attaining SDG, whatever is possible through geoparks.

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2022 Beijing Normal University. Publishing services by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of KeAi Communications Co. Ltd. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

International Journal of Geoheritage and Parks


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