Most representative geosites of Estonia to be included in the unified list of geosites representing the geodiversity of northern Europe
Devonian outcrops of South Estonia


In recent years Estonian geologists have participated in the work of ProGEO (the European Association for the Conservation of Geological Heritage). The aim of ProGEO is to share the know-how on selecting, managing, protecting and sustainably using the Europe's geological heritage.

Estonian geologists participate in the activities of Working Group no. 3, currently involving also members from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Northwestern Russia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today one of the working group's main aims is to compile a unified list of geosites representing the geodiversity of northern Europe. Thus, proceeding from the ProGEO initiative, a list of most representative geosites of Estonia was compiled in 2000-2001. The geosites were selected considering also their role in the geological development of Northern Europe.

Besides Estonian geologists, amateur naturalists and wider public participated in compilation of the above list. Dr. Rein Raudsep, ProGEO founder member, put together the preliminary list comprising 27 geosites. All Estonian geologists were invited to supplement and discuss this list and people interested in nature were also encouraged to vote and discuss the geosites, as well as propose new ones via the Internet. As a result, altogether 53 geosites were suggested to include in the list of most prominent geosites of Estonia. From these the members of the Estonian Geological Society (EGEOS) were asked to select 30 geosites. The comparison of the Internet poll results with the suggestions of geologists showed that the first 10-15 geosites coincided in both lists. This proves that people value the nature and that geologists have successfully propagated the sites of geological interest.

A committee consisting of experienced Estonian geologists (Dimitri Kaljo, Tõnu Meidla, Avo Miidel, Guido Paalme, Enn Pirrus, Rein Raudsep and Krista Täht) compiled the final list. The committee proceeded from the ProGEO principle that these selected geosites must be representative and valued in Estonia, and also be significant from the standpoint of geological development and geological diversity of Northern Europe. Finally, 25 geosites were selected; among these the North-Estonian Klint and the Silurian Klint comprise several objects. Over 100 single objects have been distinguished on the North-Estonian Klint, from these the committee selected nine cliffs and eight waterfalls (among others Valaste waterfall dropping from Saka-Ontika-Toila Cliff, the highest in the Baltic States). From the objects distinguished on the Silurian Klint five magnificent cliffs on the northern coast of Saaremaa Island were selected, especially stressing the geological diversity. The cliffs are important objects in the folklore and culture of residents of coastal areas. The North-Estonian Klint has become a symbol of Northern Estonia and the Silurian Klint - of Saaremaa Island.

The list of selected geosites includes six landscapes, five of these characterise the Quaternary glacial processes (among others 318 m high Suur Munamägi, the highest hillock in the Baltic States). Rõuge valley has formed in an ancient depression cut deep in the Devonian sandstones. Hinni canyon in the above ancient valley is the only canyon in Estonia with two steep sides, serving also as a model of formation of a valley cut in the bedrock.

The two man-made landscapes are related to excavation of mineral resources - oil shale and sand for producing glass. Estonian oil shale (kukersite) is of high quality and Estonia is presently world's largest oil shale producer.

The three gigantic boulders included in the list refer to their importance in Estonian culture and folklore, and that they have supported elaboration of glaciation theories. From three karst fields two characterise common karst processes, while the karst processes on Vilsandi and Vaika islands are exceptional in Estonia. The Vaivara Blue Mountains prove that tectonic movements can occur even on relatively calm platforms. Only three outcrops of the Devonian sandstones were selected because in Latvia those are much more impressive. The only outcrop representing the extensive Silurian outcrop area on mainland Estonia is Salevere Salumägi. The latter is because there are very few picturesque Silurian outcrops, although the Quaternary cover is thin in their outcrop area.

Three impact craters are the most prominent geosites of Estonia. Kaali crater is among most recent impact craters on Eurasia's territory. Iron particles of impact origin have been found in Kaali crater and the main crater is a perfect trace of an extraterrestrial impact. Ilumetsa crater is somewhat smaller, but displays all the specific features of an impact crater. The Kärdla crater is buried under the Ordovician rocks but today its setting and development have been reconstructed in the result of many-sided geological investigations.



The North-Estonian Klint comprising the following cliffs and waterfalls:

  1) Osmussaare Cliff - [photo] Toomas Täht
2) Cliff Suur- and Väike-Pakri islands - [photo] Krista Täht
3) Cliff on Pakri Peninsula - [photo]
4) Türisalu Cliff - [photo]
5) Toompea Cliff - [photo]
6) Muuksi Cliff and stronghold - [photo]
7) Saka-Toila-Ontika Cliff - [photo, pilt2 ]
8) Päite Cliff - [photo]
9) Utria Cliff - [photo]

  10) Keila Waterfall - [photo]
11) Jägala Waterfall - [photo]
12) Turjekeldri Waterfall - [photo]
13) Kivisilla Waterfall
14) Karjaoru Waterfall - [photo]
15) Valaste Waterfall - [photo]
16) Ukuoru Waterfall
17) Narva Waterfall - [photo, photo2]

Harju County
2. Aegviidu glacier marginal formations - [photo, photo2] Hillar Uusi, Krista Täht
3. Kostivere Karst Field - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht, Krista Täht
4. Muuga Kabelikivi Boulder - [photo] Toomas Täht
5. Tuhala Karst Field - [photo]

Hiiu County
6. Helmersen's boulders - [photo] Krista Täht
7. Coastal formations on Kõpu Peninsula - [photo, photo2] Toomas Tuul, Krista Täht
8. Kärdla Meteorite Crater - [photo] Krista Täht

Ida-Viru County
9. Oil shale outcrop in Kohtla Mine - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht
10. Kurtna Kame Field
11. Vaivara Sinimäed (Blue Mountains) - [photo] Vaivara Sinimäed

12. Vooremaa Drumlin Field - [photo] Krista Täht

Lääne County
13. Salevere Salumägi Cliff - [photo, photo2] Tõnis Saadre, Tõnis Saadre

Lääne-Viru County
14. Letipea Ehakivi Boulder - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht, Toomas Täht

Põlva County
15. Meteorite craters in Ilumetsa - [photo, photo2] Herbert Viiding, Krista Täht
16. Man-made outcrop in Piusa quarry ja Piusa Caves - [photo, photo2] Gennadi Baranovi, Alenka Cerne
17. Outcrops in Suur and Väike Taevaskoda - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht

Saare County
18. Kaali meteorite craters - [photo, photo2] Tõnis Saadre, Tõnis Saadre
19. Corries on Vilsandi ja Vaika islands - [photo, photo2] Margus Muts, Fred Jüssi
20. Silurian Klint, comprising the following cliffs:

  1) Undva Cliff - [photo, photo2] Helle Perens, Tõnis Saadre
2) Panga Cliff - [photo] Tõnis Saadre
3) Pulli Cliff
4) Üügu Cliff - [photo, photo2] Tairi Täht, Tairi Täht
5) Kessu Cliff - [photo] Helle Perens

Tartu County
21. Kallaste Cliff - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht, Krista Täht

Valga County
22. Karula Upland - [photo, photo2] Tõnis Saadre, Tõnis Saadre

Võru County
23. Härma outcrops in the valley of Piusa River - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht, Krista Täht
24. Lakes in Rõuge Ancient Valley, springs in Tindiorg and Ööbikuorg valleys and Hinni Canyon - [photo] Krista Täht
25. Suur Munamägi and Vällamägi hills - [photo, photo2] Krista Täht, Krista Täht

Author: Krista Täht (