Have you ever wondered about where the rocks that make up streets and monuments come from? You could be walking over fossils every day without realizing it.

Geologist Dave Wallis just made the city of London an even more interesting place. With his new interactive map project called London Pavement Geology, visitors can find out exactly which buildings are held up by pillars of Indian metamorphic rock or contain traces of oyster shells from the Jurassic period. A few other listings include the fossilized tree outside the British Museum and impressions of brachiopods and coral near Convent Garden.

Although cities like London have always been popular destinations for their human history, the natural history of urban centers tends to receive less attention. The descriptions on the London Pavement Geology website are short but detailed and include, among other attributes, which country the rock was quarried in, its geological age and even the nearest public transport station. Over 700 different geological sites are already listed on the map. It’s amazing to read not just about how ancient the rock features are, but also the great distances many of them have traveled. On the website Wallis states that he hopes to integrate Android and Apple apps with the project in the future.

Urban geology is defined by project contributor Ruth Siddall as “the geology of the built environment.” While undeveloped or rural landscapes are what most people may think of when they consider where geologists go to work, cityscapes also present an incredibly diverse array of rock types from across the world. Geology can play an enormous role in how and where cities develop. For instance, the bedrock in Manhattan once made it difficult to build skyscrapers in the center of the New York City and Los Angeles developed on top of tar pits that contain a high number of fossils from the Pleistocene era.

Activity: You don’t have to live in London to explore the geological features around you. Every city contains pieces of geological history in its buildings and streets. Go for a walk around your own neighborhood and make a map of the different types of rock you find.

Jobs: Geologist, paleontologist

Source: Popular Science

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons