TERRA VITA GEOPARK (Germany)

© Terra Vita Geopark

Terra Vita Geopark is located in northwestern Germany in the transitional zone between the northern lowlands and the northwestern hill country, approximately 100 kilometers from the North Sea coast and some 35 kilometers east of the Dutch border. The park is one of the cross-border Parks of the Federal Republic of Germany and spans several districts. More than two-thirds of the park is forested while the remaining area is agricultural.

Conservation, Education & Tourism

Geologically, the Geopark is an eroded uplift area, composed of sediments that developed over the last 300 million years. Sandstone, limestone and claystone were lifted and folded in the Alps were uplifted and, later, tertiary flooding and the ice-age-glaciers left younger sediments between the older structures. This geological history is evident in two regions of the Geopark: the northern part, Aenkum-Bippener Berge or Aenkumer Hoehe, is part of a large, 40-kilometer-wide "end-moraine" that was formed during the last ice age and is higher than the surrounding lowlands; and the southern part of the park is mountainous with patches of ice age sediments. The "end-moraine" is a well developed feature that was created during the Saale ice age which lasted for nearly 100,000 years before terminating 11,500 years ago. During several ice extension, older subsoil material, mainly clay sediments of Tertiary age, was pushed together while sand and gravel also accumulated.

The mountains in the southern part are a wedge-shaped anticline that separates the Muensterland Basin in the south from the northwestern lowlands. Known as the North-Westfalian-Lippian Ridge, this feature was caused by tectonic folding and stands out in the surrounding flat, horizontally-bedded landscape. The southern area also has interesting Jurassic rocks and fossil dinosaur footprints like the Dinosaur Footprints of Barkhausen. Also in the southernmost part of the Geopark, outcrops of Middle and Lower Jurassic rocks can be found that consist mainly of soft shaly claystones, often interspersed with clay-iron concretions.

Today, many of the geological monuments are preserved and made accessible to the public; guided tours, educational trails, exhibitions and interpretive signs guide visitors through a fascinating record of earth history.


The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States

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