UNESCO Global Geopark Vulkaneifel

Telling Earth’s story

Across the western Eifel, from the Mosel to the Belgian border, lies an unparalleled volcanic landscape: the Vulkaneifel. Volcanic activity has left clear traces in the region and made the landscape a documentation of earth history. But the region is not only a sought-after destination for volcanologists; the Vulkaneifel has a lot more to offer, especially for tourism. Volcanic cones, mineral water springs and a high concentration of special natural phenomena characterize the Vulkaneifel UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Vulkaneifel UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the northwestern part of the Rhein Uplands, in the Eifel region around the cities of Daun, Hillesheim and Gerolstein. The geopark is known principally for its maars. These are craters formed when rising magma comes into contact with water-bearing strata. This abruptly generates large quantities of water vapor. Surrounding rocks are shattered by shock waves and explosively ejected upwards. Rock slabs in turn fall into the cavity until a funnel-shaped pit crater is formed. The Vulkaneifel is considered a classic maar region of the Earth. The dialectal term "maar" from the Daun area has become the name for this geological phenomenon across languages globally.

In an area of around 30x55 kilometers there are about 350 large and small eruption centers. Most of them are so-called cinder cones and stratified volcanoes, which are formed by the ejection of lava, ash and cinders and sometimes also by the outflow of lava flows. 77 of these are Maar funnels, twelve of which, called the "Eyes of the Eifel", still contain a Maar lake today.

An initial volcanic phase created volcanoes 35-45 million years ago. A second phase of volcanic activity began 700,000 years ago. Most of the maars filled with water today were formed around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. Around 11,000 years ago, the Ulmener Maar, Germany's youngest volcano, erupted. The earth beneath the Vulkaneifel is still in motion and the Eifel rises by up to one millimeter every year. There are countless sources of carbon dioxide. Under the Vulkaneifel lies a hot zone that extends far into the Earth's mantle. These are indications that volcanism in the region has not yet come to a halt either–there is simply a lull. The next eruption cannot be foreseen. 

In addition, the Vulkaneifel offers word-class fossils, such as the Eckfeld primeval horse, the oldest known honey bee or the fossil reef worlds of the Gerolstein Dolomites. In 2005, the area was recognized as a National Geopark, having been incorporated into the Network of Global Geoparks one year prior. In 2015, the UNESCO recognition followed.

A contribution to sustainable development

The Vulkaneifel UNESCO Global Geopark preserves and develops the geological heritage and landscape while supporting the economic advancement of the residents. Against the backdrop of demographic changes, the Geopark invests in infrastructure that will also benefit future generations. In order to connect geology, economy, society, culture and environment under the banner of sustainable regional development, the Geopark had a master plan drawn up with local actors in 2012.

Today the Eifel has a thriving geotourism scene. Four geo-museums introduce visitors to the many scientific phenomena of the Vulkaneifel. Each museum has its own thematic focus and is dedicated to different facets of geoscientific, but also natural, historical, cultural and technical features of the Vulkaneifel, such as the fossils and volcanic phenomena. Other pertinent subjects are also addressed by numerous regional adventure trails, like the "Maars and Thermae" or "Volcanoes" trails. Educational packages geared to visitors and locals alike, as well as creative public outreach, are meant to further promote the identification of people with their region.

International partnerships

Regular exchanges take place with the Chinese UNESCO Global Geopark Leiquiong, which is also located in a volcanic area. The cooperation focuses on volcanoes as a unique selling point for geoparks.

Illustration Geoparks


  •     Year of Recognition: 2015
  •     Province: Rheinland-Palatinate
  •     Area: 1,250 km²
  •     Webseite: www.geopark-vulkaneifel.de


Model Region for Sustainable Development - Vulkaneifel UNESCO Global Geopark and the 2030 Agenda.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2021