In the early summer 2015 we're receiving the visit of a group of pre-university students from a remote region of Scotland. Since almost one year ago we, at geoGata, in collaboration with our loyal partners in Almería, are designing the contents and experiences that will build up the first international volunteering field camp in nature conservation organised by us. We hold the role of coordination while our friends from the SERBAL Society for the Study and Recovery of the Almería Biodiversity and the Andalusian Centre dealing with Global Change (CAESCG) have helped us so much in giving birth the project. Also, from the Research Group in Water Resources and Environmental Geology of the University of Almería, Prof. J. María Calaforra will show us the particularities and hazards that affect the Sorbas Gypsum Karst in central Almería, as well as it's associated ecosystems.
Little or nothing is known by the profane public about the hydrothermalism. When I ask geoGata's clients in our geology tours about this term, that refers to a phenomenon whose effects are present throughout the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata, spas becomes quickly the theme of the chat. Whithout any doubt, natural spas are related to hydrothermal processes, but not much more is usually known. Health or recreational use are based on certain chemical and physical propertiesthat make those waters make attractive in one way or another for humans, as well as the "health of mind" that accompanies water treatments. Another phenomenon related to hydrothermal circulation are the well known and evocative geysers and fumaroles, which are associated with hydrothermal processes of volcanic origin.
In my long experience as a geologist guiding family and friends, and in that I accumulated since geoGata exists as a company, one question is the most asked by all people: Where are the volcanoes? Is that mountain volcano? And rather than vanal, it is, if the answer is focused properly, the starting point of a wonderful adventure of observation of nature, a trip in time to a submerged landscape, full of smoking chimneys, coral reefs in a tropical sea, volcanic eruptions and explosions, and creatures sometimes known and sometimes surprising.
These last days, in the month of February 2013, the approach to the Earth of the asteroid 2012da14, of significant size, has caused admiration and interest in the scientific community and some concern in a society, incidentally, quite secular in science. In contrast we must recognize that the Spanish amateur astronomers community is among the most productive in the world, and the result of this is that mentioned celestial body was discovered in an observatory located in Spain, specifically north of the province Granada (La Puebla de Don Fadrique). Apocalyptic fever began unexpectedly a few hours earlier, with the fall of a meteorite in Russia, which caused extensive damage to a large geographical area of the Urals, and what is worse, hundreds injured due to the blast and breakage of crystals.
A lot was said about the volcanic eruption in El Hierro in late 2011. Alerts, evacuations, headlines in all media, criticism of the authorities, and so on. The eruption ended already entered 2012 and, except for the inhabitants of the island, affected businesses and the scientific community, there ended all. However, occasionally, some people coming to my geoGata geology tours in Cabo de Gata, speaking of that event during our talks on the volcanoes of Cabo de Gata, ask me about those floating rocks that were collected during the first days of the main eruption in El Hierro. Those bicolor smoky fragments, with its whitish interior and dark crust, which were baptized as restingolites (in reference to the town of La Restinga, the nearest to the undersea volcano), had hidden a surprise that, at least from a scientific and informative point of view, certainly exceed the interest of an eruption that, beyond the media attention, was not even the strongest, nor the most damaging, or longer than that 2011.
As you may know, the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata - Nijar is a protected area in the province of Almeria. Not forgetting the natural wealth and heritage, which deserves that and further distinctions, today we will review the mining history of the province that both from its importance and its antiquity, probably have little parallel in the Iberian Peninsula. The dawn of the mining industry in Almería are lost in the mists of time. So much so, that many legends tell of hidden treasures, such as the Cueva de la Sabina, in Dalías, Sierra de Gador, in the mine "of the Phoenicians", and some placed on this earth the King Solomon and relate an incredible discovery made by himself, a vast and mysterious treasure hidden in the depths of this mountains.
The world of volcanoes is definitely exciting. But did you know that the place with the most active volcanism is in another world? The third largest satellite of Jupiter, Io, slightly larger than the Moon, has about 400 active volcanoes. Most surprising is that the origin of this volcanism is anything but conventional. Io orbits Jupiter closer than the other three large moons, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto - the three being called Galilean in honor of its discoverer. The intense volcanic activity is due to the enormous gravitational pull of Jupiter, and also to the interaction with Europa and Ganymede. This is, in effect, "tidal forces" instead of causing low tides and high tides, resulting in tremendous friction in the inner layers of the satellite, which is heated causing volcanic eruptions.
One of the most interesting geographical features in the eastern Almería is the Níjar serrata. It is a low relief dividing the "Campo de Níjar" two. The first thing that is striking to observe is that its course is almost straight. Observed with some detail, we shall see that it presents sharp lithological changes, ie, the type of rock found can change in just a few steps from volcanic to sedimentary. Another feature that can be found, if we pay attention, is that the small and ephemeral streams that start from the Serrata and make their way to the plain are displaced laterally, longitudinally to the axis of the sierra, as if a ditch would have been built at the foot of it to carry water and sediments tens of meters ahead or behind. Finally, if we eventually move into one of those courses and touch the rocks, sooner or later we will find a very striking, laminated rock, that appear to have been polished to reflect light like a mirror.
In previous issues we have stated that in the world (and in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park) there are several types of volcanism and volcanic edifices. Moreover, being rigorous it could be said that each volcano represents a different volcanic type. We can group them according to their morphological similarities, to the predominant mechanisms of eruption, or depending on the lithology of the rocks to which they give rise. One of the most characteristic type is formed by volcanic calderas. The formation of a caldera is the result of the most energetic and explosive volcanic process. Strictly, they aren’t generated by an eruption itself, but as a result of the gravitational collapse of a pre-existing volcanic edifice, due to the partial or full emptying of the underlying magma chamber.
Education & leisure meet on a stunning WE-Nature tour in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in South East Spain
Today we've had the opportunity to enjoy a day trip with six lovely clients, Mathew, Sam, Ben, Jonathan and their parents Philip and Jo. It's been an amazing day, starting on the salt pans where we saw Flamingoes, Grey Herons, Cattle Egrets, Shell-ducks, Avocets and Northern Shovelers, in the company of a persistent but soft rain that our guests have stoically endured. After that we've gone to the smaller Rambla de Morales lagoon westwards, where we have enjoyed with the presence of some couples of White-headed Ducks, a lot of Coots, some Common Moorhens, more Flamingoes, Gulls and some Eurasian Curlews. In the beach near the lagoon we've performed a short game trying to identify pebbles from different origins, metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary ones, and we've understood some of the signs of the presence of the Carboneras Fault, one of the most important faults in the Wild East.
Those of you familiarized with science teaching or interpretation have probably heard about geological time, space-time relations governed by Einstein and Hubble’s principles about the evolution of the Universe, and other exciting (but sometimes disquieting under human life perspective) topics. Also the relative importance of the human race in that scenery is since old times under discussion. The changes in the epistemology from old Greek civilization to our days reveal that, in some way, nature rules are relegated to a secondary role. This is frequently revealed by subtle symptoms in our thinking, our behaviour and our speech. The epistemology that dominates our day by day, our rules, and our thinking, (in a reasonable and moderate interpretation) is the Anthropocentrism, which dates back to the Renaissance and Classical Civilizations. It doesn't mean that everything has to be measured and related to the human race, but its central role is anyway undeniable. It is that way also in some fields that should be clearly controlled by Science and Nature's rules.
Almost 6 years ago I had the idea of using the geology as an attraction for visitors to come to Cabo de Gata Natural Park in East Andalucía, SE Spain. Now, after having performed dozens of geological tours, promotion activities, workshops, and after having created an opinion trend in the field of the Geological Heritage, I can conclude that the Geotourism doesn't exist. Of course it doesn't mean that Geological Heritage cannot be used as a powerful resource for developing rural social communities or protecting itself and the Natural Heritage and related humanscape. It means that there is no reason to define a new kind of touristic or educational product called Geotourism. I'll try to explain myself.
That Cabo de Gata is a predominantly volcanic landscape is something that I give for granted. This does not mean that all the rocks we find in the Natural Park are, but certainly its most prominent geological feature is the volcanic origin, and volcanoes and volcanic eruptions will focus this week's article . But, what is a volcano?
The broad and comprehensive definition that comes to mind is that a volcano is a more or less extensive point on the surface of a planet which crops out lava, gases and / or hot or incandescent rock fragments, in a more or less continuous way. No matter if there is a mountain or not, or the shape of the terrain, if at a certain point there is expulsion of lava and / or projection of incandescent rock fragments (pyroclasts), this is a volcano.
In November 1963 a remarkable event set the scientific community a buzz: a new island rising out of the Atlantic a few miles south of Iceland. At that time, geologists John Tuzo Wilson and William Jason Morgan were working on intraplate volcanism, namely hot spots. Plate tectonics was just a fascinating novelty in the panorama of earth Sciences. Wilson is credited with explaining the processes which create oceans, the formation of ridges and subduction zones (Wilson Cycle). Years after the birth of Surtsey, Morgan developed his theories on banding and magnetic reversals of the oceanic lithosphere.
Apasionado de la ciencia, la fotografía y los viajes. Geólogo de formación y guía de naturaleza por vocación.