Expanding the Geoconservation Toolbox: Integrated Hazard Management at Dynamic Geoheritage Sites

Andrew Bratton*, Bernard Smith, Jennifer McKinley, Keith Lilley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the developing field to make use of visually impressive and artistic digital tools to document geoheritage sites. Whilst applauding the contribution these techniques make to records of heritage, such techniques should not replace physical access and conservation. To improve conservation of natural sites, technology must support rather than substitute geoconservation measures. As a tourism "honeypot", the Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's most significant heritage resource, representing a dynamic and contested space, around and within which managers and stakeholders capitalise on the world class values. This article reports on a "digital documentation" approach which aims to support day-to-day management decisions, by provision of online hazard management tools. Digital documentation involves collecting a range of heritage data within a single geographical information system. Slope failure and visitor data are collected using global positioning system technology, and the site is scanned using terrestrial light detection and ranging to produce a 3D model. This provides managers and stakeholders with integrated hazard assessment tools, necessary to make informed decisions. The approach represents a shift from re-active to pro-active management and promotes expansion of the geoconservation toolbox through appropriate application of digital technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2013


  • Digital technologies
  • Geoconservation
  • Geographical information system
  • Geoheritage sites
  • Terrestrial LiDAR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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