A geotope is a geological rock outcrop, a significant boundary between rocks, or a geological structure (fault, spring) in which the geological development of a region can be observed and investigated. Geological outcrops can be very diverse:
Mountains, boulder fields, sinkholes, rock formations, rock faces, rivers and river cuttings (cut banks), mineral or fossil discovery sites, trenches, caves, lakes, basins, quarries, valleys, type localities, road cuttings, springs.
The status geotope constitutes a conservation status. This means that a geotope must be protected against negative impacts such as constructions or damage in order to ensure its preservation for research and the general public.
Outstanding geotopes are designated as "National Geoptope" by the Academy of Geosciences and Geotechnology. The following three of the 12 national geotopes in Thuringia are located within the National Geopark Thuringia Inselsberg – Drei Gleichen:
- Bromacker fossil site
- Badlands beneath Wachsenburg Castle and Castle Gleichen
- Fossil Zechstein reefs in Altenstein Park and in Altenstein Cave
Geotope Day is celebrated all over Germany every year on the third Sunday of September. On this day, museums, university institutes, the geological state offices, associations, visitor mines, tourist caves and tourist informations and many dedicated private persons offer guided tours, excursions and other events with a geological focus.
Geotope Day provides an opportunity for the general public to explore geotopes such as quarries, rock formations or minerals, historic mines and many other attractions with the experts. These offers are a chance to "DISCOVER AND EXPERIENCE" how our Earth and its raw materials were formed and how the landscape evolved. Every year, the Geopark Thuringia Inselsberg–Drei Gleichen observes Geopark Day with a wide range of geological guided tours along GeoRoutes and in tourist caves, visitor mines and active quarries.
Interesting and varied Geotope Day activities are not exclusively available for professionals but are especially suited for interested laypersons and active families: they range from cave tours to expert guided GeoTours, geological bicycle tours and kids parties where children can cast and paint fossils and explore the geological time line.