Malta’s globigerina limestone (gebla tal-franka) has been designated as a Global Heritage Stone Resource (GHSR).
The recognition came about thanks to efforts by the Department of Conservation and Built Heritage within the Faculty for the Built Environment, as well as the Department of Geosciences at the University of Malta.
Six other stones from as many other countries were recognised as GHSRs – Lioz from Portugal; Lede Stone from Belgium; Jacobsville stone from the USA; Kolmården serpentine marble from Sweden; Welsh slate from Wales; and Piedra Mar del Plata from Argentina.
The total number of approved GHSR designations now stands at 15.
The other designated stones are Portland Stone (UK), Petit granite (Belgium), Larvikite (Norway), Podpêc limestone (Slovenia), Hallandia gneiss (Sweden), Carrara marble (Italy), Villamayor Stone (Spain) and Estremoz marble (Portugal).
The inclusion of Maltese limestone was approved by the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), through its sub-commission Heritage Stones (HSS) under the direction of Prof. Dolores Pereira of the University of Salamanca (Spain)
The main goal of the IUGS HSS is to recognise those stones that have been in historic use for a significant period of time and have common recognition as a cultural icon.
The process for designation is now well-established and painstaking, and the initial nomination by the interested party is followed by a long and detailed review procedure by selected experts in the field, as well as by the sub-commission itself.
The GHSR designation was recognised as a geological standard by the IUGS EC in 2017.