Heritage Geology Criteria

What makes a place a heritage geology site? The significance of a site is based on values and criteria that define a heritage geology site. As shown in the table below, the criteria used are based on an assessement of a site's value. For example, if a site has potential value because of the educational merits of the site, then the degree of excellence displayed by the site is used to evaluate its inclusion into the program. In addition, the conservation status and the type of significance is important to consider. 


Degree of excellence and beauty of a scenic natural landscape that clearly displays the result of geologic processes over time.

Educational; scientific

Degree of excellence with which a feature displays aspects of the nature and development of geological, landform, or soil systems in its region; use as a teaching site to show geologic concept; frequency of citation in scientific papers; site of important measurement or discovery.


Frequency of recreational usage.


Degree to which a feature has played a role in the life or development of past or present human communities.

“Sense of place”

Degree to which a human community regards a feature as integral to the identity of their place.


Outstanding significance is displayed by a feature that exemplifies an aspect of geodiversity that is rare, unique, or exceptionally represents an example of its type, or otherwise of special importance. A representative significance is displayed by a feature that may be considered rare or common, but is considered significant as a well-developed or well-exposed example of its type.


Hammonds Rocks

The condition of the natural values of a feature and the degree to which current land uses and land management practices are likely to protect those natural values given their inherent sensitivity.

Conservation Status Categories


Values not likely to be degraded under existing landuse conditions.

Potentially threatened

If landuse conditions change, or if vandalism occurs or continues, degradation of values is likely.


Values actively being subject to degradation.


Values have been subject to degradation.


Features whose values have been lost due to degradation.

For information regarding geologic features and PNHP, contact Jim Shaulis of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey at 717–702–2037.