The Faiyum Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt is famous for its palaeontological localities (Cenozoic whales, primates, etc.) of global importance, but its geological heritage has been not studied in the modern theoretical frame. The new investigation based on the field studies and the literature review permits comprehensive assessment of the geological heritage diversity in this oasis. For this purposes, unique geological features are inventoried with establishment of their geological essence, rank, relative abundance, and intrinsic diversity. As a result, the existence of ten geological heritage types in the Faiyum Oasis is found. These include palaeontological, palaeogeographical, geomorphological, stratigraphical, sedimentary (merged with mineralogical), hydrological coupled with geochemical, igneous, and economical types. From them, the palaeontological and palaeogeographical types are ranked globally, and the geomorphological and hydrological types are ranked nationally. The other types are either of regional (provincial) or local importance. Some hills and cliffs can serve as viewpoint sites for observation of the local geological landscape. The relative abundance and the intrinsic diversity of the unique geological features vary between low and high. Generally, the concentration of this geological heritage in the Faiyum Oasis permits recognition of the geodiversity hotspot that requires conservation and use for tourism purposes. The protected areas located in the oasis and the existing tourism programs do not offer geoconservation and geotourism activities for the entire hotspot. The possible solution of this problem would be creation of a large geopark similar in its design to the Jeju Island Geopark in South Korea. There are important premises for geotourism development in the Faiyum Oasis and its combination with the archaeological and industrial tourism. Nature conservation failures in this geopark should be avoided; some recommendations are given on the basis of the review of conservation failures in geoparks of the other countries.
Journal of African Earth Sciences – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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