Aesthetics-based classification of geological structures in outcrops for geotourism purposes: a tentative proposal

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The current growth in geotourism requires an urgent development of classifications of geological features on the basis of criteria that are relevant to tourist perceptions. It appears that structure-related patterns are especially attractive for geotourists. Consideration of the main criteria by which tourists judge beauty and observations made in the geodiversity hotspot of the Western Caucasus allow us to propose a tentative aesthetics-based classification of geological structures in outcrops, with two classes and four subclasses. It is possible to distinguish between regular and quasi-regular patterns (i.e., striped and lined and contorted patterns) and irregular and complex patterns (paysage and sculptured patterns). Typical examples of each case are found both in the study area and on a global scale. The application of the proposed classification permits to emphasise features of interest to a broad range of tourists. Aesthetics-based (i.e., non-geological) classifications are necessary to take into account visions and attitudes of visitors.

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