UNESCO The Outstanding Universal Value

The Outstanding Universal Value

The notion of outstanding universal value (OUV) is at the heart of World Heritage inscriptions. UNESCO has ten criteria to evaluate a site’s OUV, six of which are cultural and four natural.

In order to appear on the World Heritage List, sites must meet at least one of the ten selection criteria defined by UNESCO.

The calibre of the tectono-volcanic Chaîne des Puys-Limagne fault assemblage corresponds to criterion (vii) due to its scenic qualities, as well as criterion (viii) due to its geological uniqueness and scientific importance.

Criterion vii : “ to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance ”

As a site whose scenic qualities, and purity and grace of outline have been recognised from ancient times, the Chaîne des Puys is thrown into natural relief by the Limagne fault, which creates a geological pedestal. The unusual concentration of variously-shaped volcanic edifices, both densely-packed and aligned, has come to represent the visual perception of a monogenetic volcanic chain.

Alignment of Chaîne des Puys summits(J.Damase)

The Limagne fault raises up the Chaîne des Puys (P.Soissons)


Criterion viii : “ to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features ”

The Chaîne des Puys-Limagne fault tectono-volcanic ensemble allows us to view and gain an understanding of 350 million years of geological history. The scientific value of the site was first recognised in the 18th century, and quickly gained the interest of the international community, making it a founding site for the emerging discipline of modern volcanology and the history of science.

Main geological features which make up the Chaîne des Puys-Limagne fault tectono-volcanic ensemble (E.Langlois)

A site of ongoing scientific research (D.Pourcher)