Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU)
|Neptuni åkrar, a system of marine terraces named by the
world famous scientist Carl von Linné who passed here in 1741, are situated on the island of Öland.
Photo: Åsa Gierup/SGU
|The Sarektjåkkå Massif, the second highest mountain in Sweden, is situated in Sarek National Park
Photo: Robert Lagerbäck/SGU
|The beautiful red granite of Bohuslän on the Swedish west coast.
Photo: Thomas Eliasson/SGU
|The High Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage, is one of the best examples in the world of how glaciations and land rise has affected the Earth’s surface.
Photo: Henrik Mikko/SGU
Geotourism makes people and economies grow
Every day geologists are fascinated by the Earth – of the challenges to understand how our globe developed during 4.5 billion years and how mankind best can live, build and use what geology gives society in the form of natural resources such as metals, minerals, groundwater and experiences. We want to share this fascination.
When our planet formed 4.5 billion years ago there was no life. The planet’s surface was hot and most likely there were no oceans. The atmosphere lacked oxygen, there was a lot of volcanic activity and the Earth’s surface was bombarded with meteorites. During the vast amount of time that has passed since then the Earth has cooled, gigantic continents have formed and cracked down, mountain ranges have built up and eroded away, land ices kilometers thick have developed and retreated, and life has emerged contributing oxygen to the atmosphere. During millions of years, various forms of life have developed in the sea, on land, in the air and even deep into the ground. The geological environment gives the prerequisites for life on Earth, not least to mankind.
We need knowledge
In our modern society geology affects every day life – mostly without us noticing. For many Swedes the tap water for drinking is sourced from groundwater magazines in the ground. All modern technology contains metals; a Green Car ca 15 kgs of rare earth metals, a cell phone around 40 different metals. Without mines, no green technology. In order to build good roads, tunnels and houses we must understand ground stability and produce aggregates from rock materials of a proper quality. Geology is, simply said, the basis for a developing modern society.
When it comes to land usage, different needs are often competing, and we must choose. But if we lack knowledge on how geology affects our lives and our society, it is diffi cult to make wise decisions. Elementary school curricula in many countries, including Sweden, are absent of geology. This in turn affects the competitiveness of geology in higher education. The situation is slowly improving but it takes time.
In the meantime, geotourism is an internationally growing concept aiming at spreading the knowledge of geology to society, along with the development of sustainable local and regional tourism based on geology. Tourism is hard to beat when it comes to making people and economies grow and to the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) geotourism is a channel for increasing the interest for geology, as well as a future, potentially important, industry. Concurrently, the interest from players who want to use geology to attract visitors to new tourist destinations or increase the value of existing ones has grown in the country in recent years. As a consequence SGU is spreading information about the concepts of geotourism and geoparks to society and have started a national network for organizations interested in geotourism.
There are two international geoparks networks, the European Geoparks Network and the Unesco Global Geoparks Network, and although they have no Swedish members yet the country has many interesting localities to visit.
BetterGeo – realistic geology in Minecraft
In order to increase the knowledge and interest for geology, especially among children and young adults, SGU has developed BetterGeo, a more geology-focused mod (modification) of the popular computer game Minecraft. The original version of Minecraft has sold over 70 million licenses worldwide, and has a large community of mod-makers. Minecraft is a survival game where the player needs to gather resources such as wood and iron to build tools and shelter to protect themselves from the dangers of the world.
In the original Minecraft environment, much of the content is made up of gathering ores such as iron ore or diamond ore. The geology is however very simplified, almost only containing “stone”. BetterGeo introduces over 15 new rock and ore types with additional resources such as titanium, lithium and rare earth elements. Some of the features include quartz veins with gold, kimberlite pipes and grand canyon-like mountains of sedimentary rocks. The environments were developed by geologists from SGU to capture a realistic view of the geology.
BetterGeo also gives the player new applications for the minerals and metals such as the jet pack and the defibrillator. New ways to find ores are introduced, such as using the magnetic compass to find iron ores and prospecting for gold in streams of water with the prospector’s pan.