What are RIGS?

According to the UKRIGS Handbook, “Regionally Important Geological (Geodiversity) Sites — RIGS — are currently considered the most important places for Earth science outside statutorily protected land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). RIGS are identified by locally developed criteria. They are important as an educational, historical and recreational resource. The designation of RIGS is one way of recognising and therefore protecting important Earth science and landscape features for the future.”

The South East Wales RIGS area

Area covered by the South East Wales RIGS group
South Wales RIGS project area showing geology and sites of potential interest highlighted by literature searches — Source: British Geological Survey (Geoconservation, geodiversity and geoheritage)

As described in the constitution, “South East Wales” means approximately the area bounded to the south by the Bristol Channel, to the east by the national boundary frm Chepstow to Hay-on-Wye, then the River Wye to Builth Wells, then the A483 road west and southwest to Llandeilo, then the A476 road to Cross Hands and the Gwendraeth Fawr river to Carmarthen Bay.  This area is essentially the same as the one covered by the 3-year South Wales RIGS audit.

The region is dominated by Palaeozoic rocks, predominantly Silurian rocks in the west and in the Usk inlier in Monmouthshire, Devonian Old Red Sandstone in the north and Carboniferous Coal Measures and limestones in the south. Jurassic and Triassic rocks are exposed in the Vale of Glamorgan and extensive Quaternary deposits cover much of the area. The area has been influenced by repeated phases of mountain building. A long history of industrial exploitation and human influences means that there may be numerous cultural and historical sites which could be included in the evaluation process.

The region fully encompasses the Fforest Fawr Geopark.

Fforest Fawr Geopark
Geology of the Fforest Fawr Geopark — Source: British Geological Survey (Geoconservation, geodiversity and geoheritage)

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South East Wales RIGS (Regionally Important Geodiversity Sites) works to enhance and protect a suite of geological sites across South East Wales.

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