Ly Son Geopark - Overview and Attributes

Sunday - 05/08/2018 10:42
Ly Son Geopark, established under Decision 453/QD-UBND dated 31 December 2015 by the Quang Ngai Provincial People’s Committee, has an area of 100 km2 with the population of 70,000 persons, covering Ly Son island and coastal communes of Binh Chau and Binh Hai. Intial surveys by local and international experts advise that the territory has outstanding geological and morphological values, special cultural heritage and rich biodiversity.

In terms of geoheritage, extensive volcanic products are observed on Ly Son islands and coastal areas of Binh Chau, resulting from various eruptions in the Quarternary, or 11 million to 4,500 years ago. Evidence of this tectonic process is several volcanic craters on Ly Son island which forms amazing scenes such as Cau cliff, To Vo arch, Gieng Tien and Thoi Loi craters, meaningful both for scientific research and tourism sector. The tectonic process also produces a fertile basalt layer on the island surface for agriculture, and submerged reef providing habitats for marine creatures.

Regarding culture, Ly Son geopark territory is intensively intermingled with tangible and intangible heritages from different cultural flows, namely Old and New Stone Age, Sa Huynh Culture, Champa Culture, Great Viet Culture, from mountainous regions to low-lying, coastal and island regions. In the evolving history, the coexistence of Viet, Hre, Cor and Kadong has generated diversified cultural identities interweaving with each other. Aside from abudant temples and traditional festivals in the recent centuries, Ly Son is known for two archaeological artifacts of Xom Oc and Suoi Chinh which affirm the existence of Sa Huynh ancient people about 2,500 years ago. Under the Binh Chau and Ly Son sea is a shipwreck graveyard with porcelain items aged from 500 to 1,000 years. This apparently affirms a maritime route of china and ceramic, indicating the roaring trading activities with the region in the past.

In regards to biodiversity, apart from various flora and fauna species enlisted in Vietnam and IUCN Red List in the mainland, the surroundings of Ly Son island is home to diversified coral ecosystems, sea grass, seaweed ecosystems with more than 700 species, including 200 fish species, 137 seaweeds, 70 molluskes, 157 corals, 96 crustaceans and 7 sea grass species. 

In the development of the application dossier for the recognition by UNESCO, it is recommended by experts and scientists and then agreed by the provincial government to expanding the territory of Ly Son geopark to certain extent to include the diversified geological and cultural values, so it is adequate sufficient to support and improve living conditions of local communities. All of these also increase the possibility of UNESCO recognition to the aspiring geopark. The territory extension is to cover three tourism routes symbolizing three cultural – ecosystems of mountainous to Tra Bong district, of coastal to Sa Huynh and of island to Ly Son. The core principle is to combine the geoheritage of these routes as the ‘body’ of the geopark while Sa Huynh Culture serves as the ‘soul’ of the geopark; both are diversely unified in an entity of such a geopark.

Up to now, local and international scientists have visited and surveyed on 350 sites in the proposed territory, then came up with a tentative list of 78 meaningful sites along the three abovementioned routes[i].

The development of application dossier for UNESCO Global Geopark is unprecedented in Quang Ngai. It is thus no doubt a lot of challenges are facing, from the procedures, approaches, human and financial resources. At present, inventory, survey and analysis are being jointly conducted by the Ly Son Geopark Management Board and Vietnam Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources with the support from international experts. As planned, the dossier will be finalized and submitted to UNESCO by November 2019.
[i] Tentative list of 78 geological and cultural sites:
  1. Thoi Loi volcanic crater (actually double craters indicating two explosive eruptions)
  2. Gieng Tien volcanic crater
  3. Hon Soi volcanic crater
  4. Hon Tai volcanic crater
  5. Hon Vung volcanic crater
  6. Dong Truong volcanic crater
  7. Gu Bop crater and an adjacent conelet
  8. Cau Cave
  9. Cave temple
  10. Cliff on Cau cave and Cave Temple
  11. Rocks of explosive eruption on Thoi Loi crater
  12. Scenic views from Thoi Loi crater
  13. Stone arch western Ly Son island
  14. Gieng Tien waterfall
  15. Benches surrounding Ly Son island
  16. Clamps and shells ahered to tuff in Mu Cu area
  17. Fossil corals on Ly Son island
  18. Stone arch adjacent to Small island
  19. Beach on the north of Small island and interesting parhoehoe and tafoni structures
  20. Dun cliff on Small island
  21. Ngong cliff (as dragon head and tail) extended from Dong Truong crater on Small island
  22. Double lakes on Small island
  23. Beach-rock on Ly Son and Small island
  24. Coral reef on Ly Son and Small island
  25. Yellow sand on Small island
  26. Archaelogical relics of Sa Huynh Culture in Xom Oc and Suoi Chinh
  27. Temple for Dead Souls
  28. An Vinh Village Temple
  29. An Hai Village Temple
  30. Flotilla Museum 
  31. Xo La well
  32. Ong Ly well
  33. Ong temple
  34. Garlic fields on Ly Son and Small islands
  35. Le Thuy beach (Dung Quat)
  36. Binh Chau beach
  37. My Khe beach
  38. Gravel yard and basalt cliff in Ganh Yen
  39. Conelet in Ba Lang An
  40. Bench in Ba Lang An
  41. Laterited basalt cliff in Ba Lang An
  42. Volcanic cave eastern Ba Lang An
  43. Coral reef in Ba Lang An
  44. Tectonic destruction in Ba Lang An
  45. Bench in Sa Ky
  46. Stone arch in Thach Ky Dieu Tau
  47. Plate-shaped rock in Thach Ky Dieu Tau
  48. Co Luy Co Thon and Son My massacre site
  49. River mouth sediments on Tra Khuc estuary
  50. An Khe lagoon and Sa Huynh salt field   
  51. Pho Thanh depositted beach
  52. Pho Thanh bench
  53. Sa Huynh bench
  54. Metamorphic and granite under Hai Van complex, interacting with the sea to form bench, cliff and tafoni
  55. Tectonic and hydrothermal imprints deforming and metemorphosing granite of Hai Van complex (in Sa Huynh). 
  56. Foliated granite of Hai Van complex
  57. Underwater crater southern Ly Son island (identified on morphologic map)
  58. Coral reefs
  59. Shipwreck (Binh Chau offshore)
  60. Chau Sa citadel
  61. Thu Xa ancient port
  62. Sa Huynh archaelogical sites (museum and sites)
  63. Ancient road, wells, bridge and villages from Champa Cuture, especially the manuscript on rock
  64. Metamorphic rocks of Ngoc Linh complex in Tra Bong, Tay Tra and Son Ha, typically in Con Lan waterfall
  65. Gneissed granite of Chu Lai complex, typically in Thach Nham irrigation damp
  66. Granite of Tra Bong complex in Ca Du hydropower station  
  67. Granite of Dai Loc complex in Ba Ngong bridge
  68. Jura-aged red metamorphic in Binh Son area
  69. Techtonic fault on Tra Bong River with breaking, cracking and foliating
  70. Modern tectonic activities along Tra Bong River with hot spring in Thach Bich
  71. Flattened bench, lowest in Sa Ky, Ganh Yen, Ba Lang An and Binh Chau at the elevation of 15 – 20m
  72. River bench (4-6m, 10-15m, 30-40m, 60-120m)
  73. Morphologic scenic sites at Eo Chim Pass, Thien An mountain, Ca Dam mount
  74. Goddess Temple and its festival (Tra Bong)
  75. Heritage labeled bayan tree in Truong Ba temple
  76. Archaelogical artifacts of Sa Huynh in Nuoc Truong reservoir
  77. Indigenous cultural identities of Kadong, H’re and Kor groups

Author: Nguyen Minh Tri

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