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Owing to the universal value of the message recorded in the rocks down to several kilometers below Rochechouart and probably several tens of kilometers around, owing to the continuous 2000 years old record of utilization of “asteroid bearing rocks” for building houses, cities and monuments (including world class Gallo-Roman baths and related artifacts, plus a variety of medieval castle, churches and a large number of hamlets and farms all made in impactites several centuries ago), the CIRIR aims at proposing the “Country of the Asteroid Impact” (centered near Rochechouart and covering Northern half of the “Nouvelle Aquitaine” region) for the World Heritage list.
CIRIR itself aims at being supported and endorsed by an international body such as UNESCO for pursuing and developing its already effective program toward the valorization of the site at the world level.
The Club CIRIR UNESCO will be organized for supporting these projects. The practical status is still to be determined. The Club will aim at gathering and coordinating all the volunteers, supporters, ambassadors and means that will be necessary to achieve such an ambitious goal.
Why UNESCO World Heritage
1-Because there is a double universal message to be transmitted to the humanity at Rochechouart. One is contained in the natural material constituting the heritage itself. It tackles the fundamental questions of the Humanity about “origins” including our origin. The other is contained in the humanity itself, in the “exemplary” way WE will take (while combining skills and means) for extracting then disseminating, sharing the richness contained in the material, and for making it profitable to the largest number. This is a message of wisdom, peace, fraternity, humility and a message of respect for Nature, and for us.
2- Because UNESCO has acknowledged the universal value of meteoritic impact as natural phenomenon by adding it on the list of type of natural sites eligible. It is the last of the 13 types of natural heritage of UNESCO.
3- Because the heritage value of the Rochechouart impact natural site is beyond doubt. The French State has acknowledge it in 2008, and 12 sites, sampling some of the most interesting lithologies exposed in the impact structure, are protected under the scheme of the National Natural Reserve referred as to “Réserve Naturelle Nationale de l’Astroblème de Rochechouart Chassenon”.
One very unique characteristic of this natural heritage is the content. It is not VISIBLE to the eye. There is no crater visible any longer (the same applies at Vredeford dome, the only terrestrial impact registered on the UNESCO world heritage list). Yet it is complete and the erosion gives a unique 3D access to the deposits within the crater and down to the crater floor below. This situation is exceptional within the small population (about 40) of large impact crater preserved on Earth (larger than 20 km in diameter). Such a position is precisely needed by the scientists for ground truth data mining impact mechanisms and the potential hydrothermal cell that can modify all our views on origin of Life.
In the other 40 large impacts on Earth the erosion has gone too far and the information is lost, or the sediments have covered the structure and the information is limited to costly drillings. At Rochechouart we walk on the resource, and the access in the rural country side of the center of France is extraordinary easy compared to most of the other sites which are remote and in hostile environments. All this justify the proposal materialized by the CIRIR, for making the site a Natural Laboratory open worldwide for research and training on impact processes and collateral effects (including habitability of planets and emergence of life).
In part because the main heritage value is not visible to the profane, surprisingly, its geographical “extend” is poorly constrained. Yet we know enough to be certain that what we know is very little compared to what we will learn. Thus, by far the value of the site is less in what we know than in what we will know. And to do so, we need the mobilization of the world community. This is already what is achieved with the CIRIR. This worldwide collective effort is certainly in the spirit of the UNESCO scheme even though it is not in the list of criteria for eligibility. By all means the CIRIR structure needs to be supported and perenised.
4-If Rochechouart the impact is not “sexy” as can be smaller impact craters on Earth such as Meteor-Crater in Arizona, or Talemzane in Algeria, the site bears extraordinary, impact related beauties, such as world class gallo-roman artifacts, medieval castles, churches and monuments, all made in impactites.
5-Other good reasons will be added
The negative points will have to be listed too… Does the territory want to be visible, then visited???
The whole exercise relies on a single instrinsic variable, the “value” of this natural site. All the rest can be adjusted. It depends on us, on our ability to invest ourselves, to combine forces, to take advantage of this resource and to share the benefits. The site is at the level or our hope, as already demonstrated by the size and quality of the CIRIR scientific team and program. Will we be? That is all the beauty of the exercise that we propose to tackle collectively and that we propose for support by the UNESCO.
Please interact with us by sending comments and expression of interest for supporting us and joining the project
CIRIR : Philippe Lambert, directeur du CIRIR : email@example.com / 06 16 17 83 44