Emerging Tools for the Interpretation of Glacial and Periglacial Landscapes with Geomorphological Interest—A Case Study Using Augmented Reality in the Mountain Pass of San Isidro (Cantabrian Range, Northwestern Spain)

The application of Augmented Reality (AR), a technology that complements and enriches the live view of a place with virtual elements, is a relatively new approach that has been demonstrated to be useful as an educational tool for the interpretation of geological and geographic features. In addition, it is a technology consistent with challenges related to enhancing the geotourism experience in geologically diverse terrains, and consistent with the sustainable use of resources in rural and natural areas. The focus of AR in this contribution is primarily for academic use. Here, we developed a pioneering AR project, at the San Isidro Pass, located in the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula, more specifically, in the central-eastern sector of the Cantabrian Mountain range (the Asturian Massif) and the northern slope of the Sierra de Sentiles. This is a high mountain area where the low incidence of Pliocene and Quaternary fluvial erosion has favored the preservation of a great geodiversity. In this case study, the approaches of geology and physical geography as subjects in official university studies have been used as a reference framework. Fieldwork was carried out to design an itinerary, or geotrail, of Points of Interest (POIs), that highlight the geological values of this montane region by visualising and interpreting nine glacial and periglacial landscapes using dynamic graphic resources (animated videos, panoramic and spherical tours and rotating and expandable 3D models combining conventional terrestrial photography and 360° photography, aerial photography, thematic cartography, etc.) composed by graphic processing software. The result is the design of AR tools which could be used by public and private entities as a product suitable for university teaching but also a work that could guide other geoeducational actions or institutional action for official heritage recognition. In isolation, these POIs function as ‘geosites’; when combined in sequence (POI 1 to POI 9), these POIs function as a ‘geotrail’ to highlight the diversity of glacial and periglacial landscapes and their sedimentary deposits; when viewed as an ensemble, POIs combine to be similar to a ‘geopark’ that emphasises glacial and periglacial landscapes and sedimentary deposits. Ver