Merangin Geopark, Jambi's gem

Merangin Geopark, Jambi's gem

Geo Fun Rafting participants explore the Jambi Merangin Geopark Area located along the Batang Merangin River, Air Batu village, Merangin district, Jambi province. (ANTARA/Muhammad Hanapi/ra)

Indonesia is dubbed as a “Heaven on Earth” for the rich natural beauty that has made it one of the destinations for international travelers.

Some of Indonesia's sites have been registered as a global heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for example, geoparks.

A geopark is an area with prominent geological elements in which the local community also plays a role in protecting the natural heritage.

Several geoparks in Indonesia have been designated as UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) world heritage sites, such as the Batur Geopark, the Gunung Sewu Geopark, the Ciletuh Geopark, the Mount Rinjani Geopark, and the Lake Toba Geopark.

There are a number of geoparks in the country that are still in the process of applying to become UNESCO Global Geoparks; one of them is the Merangin Geopark in Jambi.

The Merangin Geopark is located in Air Batu Village, Merangin District, Jambi Province. Visitors can travel by air and land to get to Air Batu village.

Located along the Batang Merangin River, the Merangin Geopark has ancient fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years, according to the geopark's director, Agus Zainudin.

The fossils found in the geopark belong to flora and fauna and are estimated to have been formed 300 million years ago, he said. There are also natural rocks that lie on the riverside of the Batang Merangin River that are hundreds of millions of years old, including granite, sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks, he said.

Fossil traces of shellfish in the Merangin Geopark area are also evidence that part of the geopark was once a marine coastal area, he added.

Zainudin said that the age of the fossils has made the geopark the center of the oldest fossil rocks in Asia.

Hundreds of millions of years

One of the fossils in Merangin Geopark is the Araucarixylon wood fossil, which is 350 million years old.

The fossil is a broken tree that has turned into stone, Zainudin said adding, it is located on the right side of the Batang Merangin River at a slope of about 130 degrees.

The geopark also has Stereochia Semireticalatus fossils, namely, trace fossils of shellfish (Brachiopods) on the rocks lying by the riverside, such as fossils of ancient pearl shells (Nautiloida) and fossils of snails of the genus Gastropods (Bellerophon), he informed.

Furthermore, there are also fern leaf fossils, namely Cardaites SP fossils and Calamites SP fossils scattered in several places along the Batang Merangin River, he said. The fossil is a kind of ancient pandan leaf that grew in the period 290–299 million years ago, he added.

In addition to the fossils of wood, shells, and leaves, there are still many other ancient fossils spread along the Batang Merangin River and those that are still buried, he informed.

Zainudin said that according to one researcher working in the Merangin Geopark area, the fossils were formed due to volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Volcanic ash and lava eruptions produced by volcanic eruptions formed the freezing process in ancient plants and shells, he added.

Rafting

To directly see and touch the fossils at Merangin Jambi Geopark, visitors can raft along the Batang Merangin river or walk across the riverside.

The Batang Merangin River, which is fairly swift and is flanked by rocks, provides its own challenges to rafters, and could be a great option for adventure tourism.

By paying Rp600 thousand, visitors can go on a rafting trip of 13 kilometers, which takes about two hours. One rubber boat can accommodate three tourists and three guides, a tour guide informed.

Rofit, another tour guide, said that the guides who accompany tourists while rafting are skilled and qualified. They all hold certificates, he added.

In addition, to ensure safety while rafting, tourists are also provided life vests and helmets, he said.

The Merangin Geopark rafting route is categorized as type R-4, he informed. There are about 21 rapids on the route and six extreme rapids that are pretty challenging to pass, he said.

It takes about 30 minutes to get to the location of the first fossil, namely the Araucarixylon wood fossil, he informed. Tourists are given about 15 minutes to see, observe, and take pictures at each fossil location, he said.

The trace fossils of shellfish (Brachiopods) are about one kilometer from the site of the first fossil and located on the left side of the river, he added.

Then, the fern leaf fossil is located on Karing River, a small river that empties directly into Batang Merangin River. The fern leaf fossils are imprinted on rocks on the bank of the Batang Merangin River.

World heritage

The provincial government of Jambi has proposed the Merangin Jambi Geopark as a world heritage for the UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) list.

Head of the Culture and Tourism Office of Jambi province, Arif Budiman, said that UNESCO has received the complete documentation for the Merangin Geopark area, and the Merangin Geopark has been included in UNESCO's record of sites that are proposed to be registered and accredited as world heritage sites.

One of the strategies to support the proposal was holding the 2021 Geo Fun Rafting, which was held on December 1–4, 2021, he added.

It was hoped that the event would boost the Merangin Jambi Geopark's bid to become a UGG. In addition, the event aimed to introduce Jambi tourism to the international level and revive the economy of the surrounding community in the tourism sector, Budiman said.

Director of regional events organizing at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf), Joko Suharbowo, affirmed that the ministry would support the development of human resources (HR) for catering to Geopark Merangin tourism. The increase in human resource capacity is expected to expedite the development of the Merangin Geopark, he said.

The ministry is also encouraging national-scale events to be held in the Merangin Geopark area to attract visitors, for example, by hosting a national rafting championship, traditional festival, and exhibition of local culture and local wisdom of the local community, he added.

Related news: Jambi prepares study to get Merangin global geopark status
Related news: Ministry supports Merangin Geopark's human resource development


 

 

 

Comments