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DOI 10.1007/s12371-015-0144-1


A Deductive Method for the Selection of Geomorphosites:

Application to Mont Ventoux (Provence, France)
Dominique Sellier

Received: 24 March 2014 / Accepted: 29 January 2015

# The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2015

Abstract The popularisation of geomorphology requires the Keywords Geomorphosite selection . Popularisation .
selection of sites of scientific and educational interest. Several Provence . Mont Ventoux
methods can be used for such geomorphosite selection. The
method set out here is based on two stages. The first is an
integrated analysis of landforms (from main geomorphologi- Introduction
cal properties to geomorphotypes). It includes three parts: (i)
characterisation of the general geomorphic properties of the The popularisation of geomorphology, which always involves
area concerned, (ii) identification of the major geomorpholog- a relief, a populariser, a public, a method and means, can have
ical components, equal in size but varying in nature and (iii) two main objectives. The first is to communicate scientific
definition of the basic geomorphological units, within major knowledge to a non-specialist public, i.e. to describe and ex-
geomorphological components, called here geomorphotypes plain reliefs as simply and accurately as possible. The second
and possibly divided into several minor components. The sec- is to provide this public with the major principles to observe
ond stage is a deductive selection of geomorphosites the reliefs by themselves, to interest them in relief develop-
consisting of two parts: (i) selection of geomorphosites con- ment and to help them make sense of the spatial and temporal
nected with each geomorphotype or each minor component of relationships between these reliefs (Ambert 2004; Portal
geomorphotypes (what to see) and (ii) choice of the observa- 2010; Sellier 2009, 2010a, b, 2011, 2013a, b; Sellier and
tion stations or viewpoints related to each geomorphosite Portal 2013).
(from where to see it). This method, previously tested in other These objectives first require the selection of sites of scien-
places is applied here to Mont Ventoux in Provence, which is tific and practical interest, subsequently identified as
one of the most visited places in south-eastern France but geomorphosites (Grandgirard 1997; Joly 2000; Martin 2012;
without means to popularise geomorphology at present. It Panizza 2001; Reynard 2005, 2009a, b, c; Pralong 2006;
leads to the selection of 11 geomorphosites of equal size and Regolini 2011). The interest of a geomorphosite may involve
significance, representative of each property of the relief at the exemplarity of the relief itself according to scientific
every scale level and on each side of Mont Ventoux. Then, knowledge, its educational value or its accessibility and ob-
visitors are given the opportunity to assess the links between servation conditions. However, it can also be derived directly
sites, to understand the reasons for their selection and, finally, from the curiosity of the public or from the popularisers in-
to try to observe the landscape by themselves. This method dividual initiative, because of his former research and personal
enables not only the choosing of sites to be visited but also interest in a relief (Sellier 2009; Regolini 2011).
their conservation, which are the two objectives of establish- Several methodsor wayscan be used for
ing geoheritage. geomorphosite selection. One of the most popular is a classi-
fication based on a site assessment according to various prop-
erties (Reynard 2005, 2009a; Serrano and Gonzalez Trueba
2005; Pereira 2006; Gonzalez Trueba 2007). This inevitably
D. Sellier (*)
requires a previous definition of the assessment criteria (basic
Institut de Gographie de lUniversit de Nantes, Laboratoire CNRS
UMR 6554 LETG-Golittomer, Nantes, France values, added values) as well as a preliminary inventory of
e-mail: potential sites within the given area. This method is frequently

used and provides a greater awareness of geoheritage. of the considered area into several main units, usually between
Alternatively, a systematic process can be based on the idea two and five, to make their perception by the public easier).
that any relief is worth describing in terms of morphology, The third part is the definition of distinct basic geomorpho-
morphogenesis and paleogeography features, including reliefs logical units, within each major geomorphological compo-
that seem rather ordinary at first sight, using a simple obser- nent. These basic units are called here geomorphotypes. As
vation method. far as possible, these geomorphotypes should be of similar
The method set out here is based, as for it, on a deductive size and complementary significance. They can be subdivided
selection of geomorphosites. It emphasises the relationships into several subordinate elements or minor components, no
between these sites at different scales. More precisely, it high- more than about ten to remain perceptible by the public. This
lights the interactions between components of a relief in space integrated analysis of landforms mostly requires the expertise
and in time according to different scale levels. Then, it pro- of scientists.
vides the public with the opportunity to consider the links The deductive selection of geomorphosites includes two
between sites and, consequently, to understand the reasons parts. The first concerns the selection of geomorphosites con-
for their selection. It can be applied to every relief regardless nected with each geomorphotype (what to see). It involves
of size. scientific criteria such as specific scientific value, educational
value, exemplarity or rarity. The second concerns the choice
of viewpoints related to each geomorphosite (from where to
A Method and an Example see it): natural viewpoints, artificial belvederes, simple stops
before a section or a slope, observation stations during a
A Deductive Method for the Selection of Geomorphosites planned trip. This involves practical and tourist criteria (acces-
sibility, observation conditions, aesthetic value and renown).
This method includes two stages: an integrated analysis of Geomorphosite and viewpoint selection can both use the usual
landforms of complementary scale levels and a deductive se- assessment method based on scientific values and additional
lection of geomorphosites, from representative relief types values (Reynard 2009b). These depend on each site, each
(Fig. 1). populariser and each public (Sellier 2010b, 2013a; Sellier
The integrated analysis of landforms consists of three parts. and Portal 2013). The deductive selection of geomorphosites
The first is the characterisation of the general geomorphic is within the scope of scientists too but can incorporate advice
properties of the area concerned (for example, a natural area from inhabitants or local experts.
such as a mountain, a valley or a coast or an institutional area A relief observation method is required before the practical
such as an administrative territory or a nature reserve). The way to show that geomorphosites is chosen. This method
second is the identification of major geomorphological depends once again on each populariser. It appears essential,
components, of equal size but of various properties (division however, to consider that a relief always includes several

Fig. 1 Integrated analysis of

landforms and deductive selection
Main geomorphological properties of related area
of geomorphosites

Integrated Major geomorphorphological Major geomorphorphological

component component*
analysis of

1 2...* 3 4...*

Geomorphotype Geomorphotype Geomorphotype Geomorphotype

Possible Possible Possible Possible

minor components minor components minor components minor components

Geomorphosites Geomorphosites...* Geomorphosites Geomorphosites...*
selection of
Observation stations Observation stations Observation stations Observation stations

elements easily identifiable in the landscape by any visitor: As it lies near the Rhne Valley, in front of the Alps, it is
basic landforms (such as thalwegs or divides, surfaces or particularly exposed to the Mistral. In this way, Mont
slopes), visible structural features (such as outcrops and obvi- Ventoux appears as a Mediterranean mountain, an Alpine
ous rock deformations), evidence of erosion processes (active mountain and a Rhodanian mountain.
or inherited), superficial formations and accumulation reliefs. Mont Ventoux is a ridge that can be seen from everywhere
This approach requires the recognition of the morphological in Provence and farther away (Fig. 3). It is a major landmark in
characteristics of a relief, its dynamic and its inherited charac- the landscape because of its elevation, site and shape, as well
teristics. It takes into account the interlocking of features (ma- as its white crestline, due to limestone blockfields. This
jor, medium and minor reliefs) and the sequences responsible uniqueness really explains its name, derived from Ventor,
for their genesis, i.e. the various spatial and temporal scales meaning high isolated mountain (Barruol et al. 2007; Peyre
involved. 2012). Moreover, the top of Ventoux affords one of the
broadest panoramas in France, to the south (limestone ridges
Application to Mont Ventoux (Provence) of Provence, such as Montagne de Lure, Monts de Vaucluse,
Lubron, Alpilles, Sainte-Victoire and then the Rhne Valley
Mont Ventoux (Vaucluse) is suitable for applying the method and Delta, the Camargue, the Mediterranean coast, Etang de
mentioned above because of the simplicity of its relief and Berre and Languedoc lagoons), to the north (the Prealps such
because of the connections between its components at each as Baronnies, Diois and Vercors and the Alps such as
scale level. Mont Ventoux is a famous mountain in France, Mercantour, Queyras and Pelvoux) and to the west (Mont
emblematic of the natural and cultural heritage of Provence Aigoual and Mont Lozre in the Cvennes, Mont Mzenc in
(Fig. 2). Its stature accounts for its nickname of the Giant of the Vivarais). All the south-eastern part of France can thus be
Provence while its location in northern Provence justifies it observed from Mont Ventoux; it represents one of the most
being the legendary source of the Mistral. Petrarch was the important geomorphosites in France at this scale level.
first to climb to its summit in 1336. The diversity of its envi- In addition, Mont Ventoux benefits from several labels
ronments makes it a study area favoured by naturalists such as intended to guarantee its conservation. It belongs to the
Jean-Henri Fabre. Its slopes and summit are locations for ma- Grands sites de France network and to the Rserves de la
jor sports meetings, one of the most famous being a stage of biosphere association. Two panoramic tables are set north
the Tour de France. Mont Ventoux is one of the most visited and south of its summit. Hikes are organised there. The land-
tourist places in France, in both summer and winter, and is scape, relief and geology of Mont Ventoux have been
clearly a very popular site. popularised in some books (Barruol et al. 2007), in booklets
The mountain rises to 1910 m and is located close to the distributed by the Office National des Forts (Kornig et al.
northern borders of Provence and Mediterranean regions from 2001) and in articles published in local journals (e.g. Carnets
which it derives its vegetation and summer temperatures. It is du Ventoux).
situated near the Baronnies mountains in the Prealps, with Conversely, a description and explanation of the specific
which it has altitudes and winter temperatures in common. geomorphological features of Mont Ventoux for the general

Fig. 2 Aerial view of Mont

Ventoux from the eastern side

Fig. 3 Location of Mont Ventoux


public and visitors have yet to be provided. Today, people look The foot of Mont Ventoux is situated at an altitude of 300 m
at Mont Ventoux in the background because of its great pres- to the south (Carpentras Basin) and to the north (Toulourenc
ence. They climb the mountain to look at the landscape be- Valley). Its slopes are 1600 m high, and the Mediterranean
cause of the exceptional viewpoint from the top. However, climate present in the surrounding plains obviously deterio-
very few really look at Mont Ventoux while climbing it, and rates with altitude. The result is an exemplary belt arrange-
no information exists in the field about its relief. Nevertheless, ment to the south (adret), characterised by a Mediterranean
Mont Ventoux is an example of a simple relief, useful for lower belt with Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) to 500 m, then
pointing out the geomorphology of a site and potentially for with evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) to 800 m, a supra-
an integrated analysis of landforms. Mediterranean belt with truffle oak (Quercus humilis) to
1000 m, a mountain belt with beech (Fagus sylvatica) to
1700 m, a subalpine belt with common pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Integrated Analysis of Landforms: from Main and wild mountain pine (Pinus uncinata). A final pseudo-
Geomorphological Properties to Geomorphotypes alpine belt is partly covered by scrub, blockfield and alpine
flora (including Papaver alpinum and Saxifraga
The Main Geomorphological Properties of Mont Ventoux oppositifolia). This arrangement was disrupted by deforesta-
tion in the nineteenth century, then later by afforestation,
All these properties concern what can be seen from the sur- which is only obvious to the south (adret). A wholly wooded
rounding plains and what is useful to know before climbing slope, steep and dark, extends to the north (ubac), covered by
Ventoux. Mont Ventoux is a ridge of 25 km, extending from beech close to the summit (Ozenda et al. 1970; Barbero et al.
the Montagne de Lure (1826 m). It follows an east-west di- 1978; Girerd 1978; Merle and Guende 1978). This strong
rection, like all Provenaux folds, due to its origins during bioclimatic adret-ubac contrast adds to the structural asymme-
the Alpine Orogeny (Lubron, Alpilles). Consequently, the try of Mont Ventoux. Thus, the summit crestline of Ventoux is
south slope is sunny and dry (adret) while the north slope is a major geographical contact in south-eastern France between
classically shaded, cold, wet and wooded (ubac). The the Mediterranean domain (south slope) and the alpine do-
Ventoux-Lure alignment is well defined by a long overriding main (north slope).
anticline, faulted and overturned to the north. It comprises Pleistocene periglacial remnants occupy a fundamental po-
pale, thick, Cretaceous limestones, mainly Urgonian facies sition in the present landscape of Mont Ventoux. These fea-
and similar to those making up the largest part of the prealpine tures are representative of limestone mountains of the
massifs from Bornes to Sainte-Baume. This overriding anti- Mediterranean domain. They probably originate from several
cline creates the monoclinal structure of Mont Ventoux and its successive cold periods but mostly from Weichsel glaciation,
asymmetrical transverse profile, characterised by a steep slope when alpine glaciers extended close to the Sisteron site in the
to the north and a monoclinal slope to the south. Durance Valley (Couterand 2011). Subsequently, the whole of

Provence was subjected to absolute periglacial conditions. Major Geomorphological Components of Mont Ventoux:
Pleistocene periglacial processes induced an intensive frost Escarpment (Northern Side) and Back Slope (Southern Side)
shattering of Cretaceous limestone, which generated a huge
fragmentation of the limestone outcrops and strata, to several Mont Ventoux, as it results from a huge overturned anticline to
metres in depth and at an altitude lower than 500 m on the the north, consists of two major geomorphological compo-
south slope. nents: a northern slope and a southern slope, both distin-
Current erosional effects are in accordance with the guished in terms of slope direction and dip direction, i.e. ac-
double influence of the Mediterranean climate and the cording to structural features.
mountain climate. The rainfall pattern shows a main max- The northern slope of Mont Ventoux faces the Baronnies
imum in autumn and a second in spring, which are related Massif and the Southern Alps. It is more than 1500 m high,
to the Mediterranean influence. The mean annual rainfall overlooking the Toulourenc Valley and the Montagne de
is about 17001800 mm at the top, which is related, how- Bluye. It is an escarpment because of the stratal dip into
ever, to the mountain influence. Rainfall makes small ter- the slope (in the opposite direction of the slope). It is steep
races on vegetation-covered areas, and small debris flows and prone to rock-fall and shows a straight profile but with a
on stony areas. Thunderstorms are recurrent at the top; topographic gradient of about 35, with small free faces
they make small craters and, at times, ephemeral rills, cutting across limestone layers and a rocky crest on the
several metres long and several decimetres deep. topthese features help characterise Ventoux when viewed
Nevertheless, torrential activity is the major erosion pro- from a distance from the north (the Ventoux balconies).
cess on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, but it depends on These features are now widely covered by scree, especially
rainfall and is, therefore, quite episodic. Moreover, there in the mountains highest part. Obsequent ravines furrow the
is no permanent stream on the southern slope (adret) and mountain, cutting it into wide triangular divides that end in
only a few on the northern slope (ubac), because of the large alluvial fans at their confluence with the Toulourenc
irregularity of rainfall and the permeability of limestone, Valley.
which is more favourable for karstic run-off. Snowfalls The southern slope of Mont Ventoux looks down towards
occur mostly from December to February but show sig- the Carpentras Basin. It is the back slope of the asymmetri-
nificant interannual variation. The mean duration of snow cal anticline because of stratal dip out of the slope (i.e. in a
cover is 140 days per year but is discontinuous in time. similar direction to the slope). It is a straight but gentle
The direct snow effects are avalanches on the ubac slope slope, 10 km long from top to bottom, with a regular topo-
and parallel rills produced by snowmelt in spring on the graphic gradient of about 8, lower than the structural dip,
adret slope. which is about 12. It can thus be regarded as an attenuated
The transition between the Mediterranean climate at the slope, cutting the Urgonian limestone strata, the outcrops of
bottom and the mountain climate at the top results in a which are increasingly older from the bottom to the summit.
drop in mean annual temperatures of about 10 C. This Such an attenuated slope constricts mass movements and
mean is 3.3 C at the top, where a weather station was in explains the stopping of huge blockfields in situ, identifying
operation from 1931 to 1967. Only 2 months show mean Mont Ventoux from the coast because of their white colour.
temperatures above 10 C, and 4 months show mean tem- This back slope is gullied by consequent drainage made of
peratures below 0 C. The mean number of frost days is channels and vales which become deeper at the bottom and
178 per year, and the mean number of freeze and thaw are locally called combes.
cycles is 86 per year. There is an active periglacial belt
from 1780 m to the top based on cryoturbation and Geomorphotypes and Minor Components
congelifluction evidence (Sellier 2015). It sits above wild
mountain pines and common juniper cushions and ex- Each of the two major geomorphological components of
tends over 130 m in height. Mont Ventoux, escarpment (northern side) and back slope
Strong winds are frequent at the summit: the Mistral, (southern side), includes two sets of geomorphotypes ac-
cold and dry, blowing from the north, and the Marin, cording to erosion features: more exactly, ablation slopes
bringing rain from the south. Winds stronger than and reliefs. The whole range thus determines four
60 km/h blow for 242 days a year, coming from the geomorphotypes: Richter slopes and obsequent ravines to
north-north-west (Mistral) on 151 of them. Eolian effects the north, attenuated dip slopes and consequent drainage
are warping the wild mountain pines near the summit of relief to the south. Such balanced features are easily under-
the ubac slope and causing deflation of vegetation and standable by the public. To complement these, each of these
soils and wind terraces. Deflation also strips the snow four geomorphotypes includes two or three minor compo-
cover, increasing the duration of bare soil and frost and nents of the same size or, in any case, at the same scale
thus frost and thaw cycles. level.

Fig. 4 Geomorphotype 1:
Richter slopes on the northern

On the Northern Escarpment ravines. They are discontinuous lengthwise too because
of a local series of rocky residual free faces.
Richter Slopes Are the First Set of Geomorphotypes (Fig. 4) The free faces are still upright but transversely irregular.
The northern slope seems to be abrupt when observed from They are very small everywhere: several metres to several
the north, especially from the floor of the Toulourenc Valley or decametres high. They have not yet been completely
when revealed from the summit crest when coming from the destroyed by a still active frost shattering.
south. In fact, it is mainly a great Richter slope, including three Screeslopes lie below the free faces or Richter slope sec-
minor components: rocky Richter slope sections, residual free tions and are associated with them. They are still partly
faces and scree. All are classic landforms, which can be point- active, particularly near the summit and just beneath the
ed out to visitors. highest free faces. They are openwork everywhere and
normally grain-sorted towards the top. Consolidation of
Rocky Richter slope sections are, of course, the largest a part of them explains the local presence of breccia.
component. They are perfectly rectilinear and several
hundred metres high. They cut limestone strata and are
well preserved overall because they are in the opposite Obsequent Ravines Are the Second Set of Geomorphotypes
direction of the dip. Nevertheless, they are transversely (Fig. 5) These gully the Richter slopes in wide divides.
discontinuous because of catchment basins of obsequent They run out in the opposite direction to the dip, making up

Fig. 5 Geomorphotype 2:
Obsequent ravines on the
northern escarpment

Fig. 6 Geomorphotype 3:
Attenuated dip slopes on the
southern back slope

another trilogy: catchment basins at the top, outflow channels On the Southern Back Slope
in the middle and wide alluvial cones reshaping scree at the
bottom. Attenuated Dip Slopes Are the Third Set of Geomorphotypes
(Fig. 6) These are straight but their gradient slowly decreases
Torrential catchment basins are branched and deeply from the summit to their contact with the Carpentras Basin.
embanked in free faces and Richter slope sections. They consist of two minor components: limestone outcrops
They are filled in places by scree and avalanche and blockfields.
Outflow channels are straight because of the topographic Outcrops are derived from limestone strata cut by erosion
gradient of the northern slope of Ventoux. They are and look like minor monoclinal reliefs, comprising slabs
embanked by some decametres separating long, narrow several metres long tilted to the south and an edge several
and wooded divides, locally called serres. decimetres high, facing north. These outcrops demon-
Alluvial cones are made of reshaped scree deposits strate the effects of two conflicting erosion processes:
coming from the upper slope. They are found at the karst features and frost shattering features.
confluence of obsequent ravines and the Toulourenc Blockfields are overlying outcrops on the main part of the
Valley. back slope. They are made of frost-shattered blocks of

Fig. 7 Geomorphotype 4:
Consequent drainage reliefs on
the southern back slope

various sizes (from 10 cm to more than 1 m), mostly

resulting from Pleistocene cold periods. However,
periglacial processes are still active inside these
blockfields, in particular above 1800 m. Urgonian lime-
stone is very frost susceptible and prone to frost
shattering. In addition, limestone dissolution produces
clay, which plunges into regoliths. There is thus a strong
contrast in frost susceptibility between the superficial part
and the deep part of regoliths (some decimetres to 1 m).
This contrast is favourable for sustainable basic
periglacial features during current climatic conditions.
Congeliturbation features consist of earth patches, like
mudboils, small stone circles and frost-heaved blocks.
Gelifluction features include small terraces, gelifluction
lobes and sorted stone stripes.
Fig. 9 Location of Mont Ventoux geomorphosites

Consequent Drainage Reliefs Are the Last Set of

Geomorphotypes (Fig. 7) These deeply furrow the back slope Deductive Selection of Geomorphosites:
all along its profile, in the direction of the dip (consequent from Geomorphotypes to Geomorphosites (Fig. 8)
drainage). They unite vales, combes and glacis, all highly
visible in the landscape. Geomorphosite Selection Criteria

Vales are situated in the upper part of the slope and start An integrated analysis of landforms, which means relief anal-
near the summit as wide catchment basins surrounded by ysis at complementary scale levels, leads to the identification
back slope blockfield cover. They become closer and of four geomorphotypes on Mont Ventoux in terms of slope
deeper afterwards, showing straight outlines and some- types and drainage features.
times asymmetrical profiles, which are distinctive of Subsequently, two or three minor components can be dis-
periglacial origin. In fact, these vales are the result of tinguished within each geomorphotype. It is important that the
several alternating frost and gullying sequences during public is aware that this distinction is related to erosion pro-
Quaternary times. cesses (mainly periglacial processes for geomorphotypes 1
Combes succeed these vales downstream. They form nar- and 3 and concentrated drainage processes for
row meandering and ramified gorges, between slopes and geomorphotypes 2 and 4). Similarly, the public needs to know
free faces more than 100 m high in places, within the that each of these minor components refers to one of the ero-
limestone back slope. sion stages: denudation, transport or deposition, except in the
Glacis, derived from huge alluvial fans, are the result of case of attenuated slopes, associated with the back slope,
successive correlative deposits of gullying actions during where blockfields, made in situ and without substantial move-
the Quaternary. They spread to the borders of the ment, do not enable transport and deposition features. This
Carpentras Basin. systematic approach can show the public the shifting

Fig. 8 Deductive selection of

geomorphosites of Mont Ventoux

sites, to their adaptability with regard to different publics and

to their valorisation conditions. The third criteria are practical
ones. They refer to observation conditions related to sites and
their surroundings, access and parking facilities, especially if
observation stations are to be included in a tour. Mont
Ventoux, for instance, presents exceptional conditions, con-
tributing to its tourism success. Three roads reach the summit
from the south, north and east. Two public hiking paths are
marked out all along its slopes (GR4 and GR9). Footpaths
cross the scree, blockfields and combes.

Choice and Location of Geomorphosites and Observation

Stations (Fig. 9)
Fig. 10 Geomorphotype 1.1: Richter slope sections on the Col des
Temptes On the Northern Slope (Escarpment)

properties of reliefs, beyond their morphological properties. It Richter Slopes Geomorphosite 1.1. Richter slope sections sit-
also enables them to distinguish past and present reliefs, to uated just below the summit crest, near the Col des Temptes,
understand the succession of various climatic sequences, and at about 1840 m, are distinctive because of their straight out-
thus relationships between reliefs and time. The public can line and lateral continuation (44 10 24.6 N5 17 11 E).
finally appreciate process shifts from which every They cut limestone layers making minor free faces some
geomorphotype results, for example, Richter slopes coming decimetres high. They become overlain in places by thin and
from cold Quaternary periods, gullied by postglacial channels, discontinuous scree (Fig. 10).
or associated scree, reshaped by torrential deposits. Geomorphosite 1.2. Residual free faces are usually
The geomorphosite selection then proceeds from the previ- scattered but become more numerous, more unbroken and a
ous geomorphotype selection. Nevertheless, several little higher (5 to 15 m) just below the summit between Coste
geomorphosites generally have to be chosen with regard to Vieille and Les Serres Gros, on both sides of the GR9 path, at
each geomorphotype. Such a choice requires the definition the place rightly named the Ventoux balconies (44 10 28.5
and use of criteria by popularisers. Three categories of main N5 17 13.2 E). Their conservation is proof of limestone
criteria can be proposed relating to Mont Ventoux, as for other toughness and perhaps of less frost susceptibility locally.
cases. Scientific criteria are the first. They refer to the standard Nevertheless, cracks obviously opened by frost shattering on
value of natural features of the sites concerned, as revealed by outcrops and recent frost-shattered blocks at the foot of these
the integrated analysis of landforms. Educational criteria are free faces are evidence of current frost shattering activity
the second. They refer to the demonstration value of selected (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11 Geomorphotype 1.2:

Residual free faces, Coste Vieille

Fig. 12 Geomorphotype 1.3:

Scree slopes near the Combe de

Geomorphosite 1.3. Scree slopes, well specified, can be seen Vieille, between the GR4 and GR9 footpaths (44 10 36.2
below the main limestone free faces (Fig. 12). These are talus N5 17 7.2 E).
slopes (below rectilinear free faces) or scree cones (below in- Geomorphosite 2.2. Outflow channels form deep, narrow
dented free faces and corridors). The site called the Grave and sinuous vales furrowing the whole northern slope through
Faouletire, below the summit of Ventoux near the Combe de the beech forest (Fig. 14). These channels result from sporadic
Fonfiole and the GR9 path, is one of the best examples of active but strong torrential erosion. Their thalwegs and sides are often
scree slopes because of its openwork texture and its grain destroyed and filled with avalanche sediments, like those visible
sorting towards the top (44 10 44.4 N5 17 15 E). from the Tte de la Grave sited at 1645 m on the GR4 footpath,
north of Chalet Reynard (44 10 41.5 N5 18 18 E).
Obsequent Ravines Geomorphosite 2.1. Torrential catchment Geomorphosite 2.3. Alluvial cones have been built between
basins show the origin of ravines gullying the northern slope obsequent ravines and the Toulourenc Valley (Fig. 15). They
of Ventoux. They scoop out its summit crest, making small are all of small size and partly covered with vegetation. This
amphitheatres bordered with free faces or Richter slope sec- suggests the wide catchment basins situated upstream result
tions (Fig. 13). The most outstanding ones are situated, once from Quaternary periods during which torrential processes
again, near the top, between the Col des Temptes and Coste were especially powerful. The Mourets cone positioned

Fig. 13 Geomorphotype 2.1:

Torrential catchment basins
between the Col des Temptes
and Coste Vieille

Fig. 14 Geomorphotype 2.2:

Outflow channels, the Tte de la

downstream of the Combe de la Muretorrent, visible from Geomorphosite 3.2. Slope blockfields are among the most
Coste Vieille, is the best example of this alluvial feature (44 typical features of limestone mountain landscapes in
11 17.6 N5 19 21.9 E). Mediterranean countries. They are particularly widespread on
the back slope of Mont Ventoux. They constitute a sort of stone
On the Southern Slope (Back Slope) desert above 1700 m but are still widely preserved towards the
bottom, in the beech forest and then the truffle oak forest
Attenuated Dip Slopes Geomorphosite 3.1. Outcrops associ- (Fig. 17). They are made of white, angular stones, almost ev-
ated with rocky slabs are common beside the summit crest erywhere openwork. Some authors have mentioned active
down to 17001800 m, especially near a radar station built periglacial features (Dewolf and Joly 1978; Clauzon 1991).
west of the summit (44 10 27.3 N5 16 1.3 E). Minor Their survey recently revealed an active periglacial belt on the
karst features include diverse solution furrows and runnels top of Mont Ventoux (Sellier 2015). The range of periglacial
such as rinnenkarren and rillenkarren, deschenkarren and so- features within this belt was plotted along a transect south of the
lution basins obviously still active, in part. In situ frost Col des Temptes, between the tablet erected in memory of
shattering features comprise in situ split slabs, fissured edges Tom Simpson (1780 m) and the platform at 1820 m near this
and frost-shattered blocks wedged between the latter (Fig. 16). col (44 10 16.3 N5 17 9.4 E). This range is unvarying:

Fig. 15 Geomorphotype 2.3:

Alluvial cone of Mourets
downstream of the Combe de

Fig. 16 Geomorphotype 3.1:

Outcrops associated with the
rocky slabs and karst features,
west of Ventoux summit

rough earth patches and small flowing blocks at the bottom, Weichsel stage or before, (ii) partial warping of the vale beds
earth patches like mudboils, flowing blocks and congelifluction by congelifluction and run-off along adjacent slopes during
terraces in the middle and interdependent earth patches, sorted the Holocene and (iii) recent and current gullying of these
stripes and congelifluction at the top. warping deposits along the thalwegs (Fig. 18).
Geomorphosite 4.2. Combes that furrow the back slope
Consequent Drainage Reliefs Geomorphosite 4.1. Vales situ- downstream are among the main footpaths to reach the sum-
ated upstream are easily seen beside the D974 road that goes mit. Because of their embankment and narrowness and be-
to the summit of Ventoux, along the southern slope, particu- cause of the lack of run-off except during heavy rain, the
larly around Les Herboux (44 9 25 N5 18 23.2 E). They combes enable walkers to go along the torrent beds and ob-
link the results of periglacial processes related to the serve every typical gullying feature in detail, such as rocky
blockfields and those of concentrated drainage processes beds, basins, grooves or notches. The Combe de Curnier is
working within the combes. Many of them give evidence of one of the best examples for this purpose (Fig. 19, 44 8 22
at least three sequences between 1700 and 1500 m: (i) vale N5 13 10.7 E).
cutting in the back slope by concentrated drainage and en- Geomorphosite 4.3. Glacis are long and gentle slopes,
largement of their slopes by periglacial processes during the resulting from interdependent large alluvial fans, which

Fig. 17 Geomorphotype 3.2:

Slope backfield, east of Ventoux

Fig. 18 Geomorphotype 4.1:

Vale of Les Herboux, southern

themselves come from the combes. They are extensively cov- condition of the site, which is often called its integrity.
ered by vineyards (Fig. 20). Near Sainte-Colombe, longitudi- Secondly, it concerns the measures adopted or to be adopted
nal sections beside the road to Mont Ventoux show that these in the future, to preserve its properties. At present, Mont
glacis are made of coarse and bulky deposits, lying in disarray Ventoux is equipped with main roads, antennas, a civil radar
on Cretaceous marl (44 7 12.7 N5 13 36.7 E). station and disused military areas, which have affected its
landscape for a long term. Several hundreds, or even thou-
Valorisation of Geomorphosites sands, of tourists visit its summit every day in the summer
season. Extensive grazing of sheep still occurs above the for-
Establishing a geoheritage requires its acquisition, conservation est limit, where alpine flora and active periglacial features are
and transmission (Sellier 2009, 2013a; Sellier and Portal 2013). found. Current measures are clearly insufficient to prevent an
In the case of a geomorphosite, this, firstly, leads on from its excessive number of visitors and to protect the site.
selection and its location, as applied above to Mont Ventoux The valorisation of Mont Ventoux needs first to emphasise
where 11 sites have been chosen. Their preservation and its outstanding general characteristics, before commenting on
valorisation for the public, which is a type of transmission, are any one site or panorama. Above all, Mont Ventoux is an
not within the scope of this paper but lead to some final remarks. example of a Provenal fold because of its asymmetrical
The preservation of geomorphosites is among their assess- profile and its thrust fault to the north. It is noteworthy for
ment criteria for two reasons: Firstly, it concerns the present its adret-ubac contrast, the transformation of its climate

Fig. 19 Geomorphotype 4.2 The

Combe de Curnier

Fig. 20 Geomorphotype 4.3

Glacis near Sainte Colombe,
between Mont Ventoux on the left
and the Carpentras Basin on the

according to altitude and its vegetation belts. It is related to applied in other regions (Sellier 2010a, b, 2012, 2013a, b;
one ofthe Mediterranean mountain types because of its general Sellier and Portal 2013).
shape, limestone composition, karst features and both run-off It is basically a geomorphological method setting out land-
action on slopes and frost action uphill. It marks the limits of form analysis, taking into account scale levels and relation-
the periglacial domain in the Alps and Mont Ventoux, partly ships between reliefs. It is a systematic method, starting from
for this reason, is in direct contact with the Alps (ubac slope) scientific knowledge and leading to geomorphosite and view-
as well with Provence (adret slope). The panorama from its point selection, with the objective of popularisation. It is in
summit alone makes it worth visiting, and although there are accordance with the geomorphodiversity concept because of
other similarly outstanding panoramas in France, few are so the complementarity of selected geomorphosites within the
sunny, so clear and so easy to reach. initial area concerned. It is a method for establishing
Subsequently, the choice of ways to transmit geomorpholog- geoheritage as it enables the selection of sites not only to be
ical knowledge depends on the possibilities available to the visited but also to be preserved. In practice, it can contribute to
organisers of such materials and of the authors of the preparing a way of presenting geomorphosites to the public.
popularisation. Clearly, the distribution of leaflets or guide- This method must remain pragmatic. It enables the number
books would be better than fixed panels, in order to prevent of taxonomic groups to be varied, in accordance with the
more construction in the landscape. Because of the many and region concerned (large areas, geomorphotypes,
varied hiking facilities on and around Ventoux, a better option geomorphosites and components of geomorphosites). The
could be to plan circuits, using footpaths, with numbered ob- number of sites within each taxonomic group can also be
servation stations and reference booklets. A first circuit could varied. Overall, it depends on the objectives and experience
follow the crestline, along the GR4 and GR9 footpaths, to dis- of the populariser, on the visitors, on institutional authorities in
cover geomorphosites 1.1 to 2.3, related to the summit and the charge of the project and on the educational means available.
ubac slope. A second circuit could link geomorphosites 3.1 to
4.3, related to the adret slope. After that, educational material Acknowledgments Dr Riwan Kerguillec at the University of Nantes
has to be adapted to the reliefs, their distance, their origin, their prepared the Figs. 3 and 9 for publication. Comments by the two referees
and the editor-in-chief of the journal helped to improve the original
relationships in time and space and, of course, to the public. manuscript.

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