Category Archives: Cabo de Gata

Geo landscapes

Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark - Volcanic domes.
Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – Volcanic domes.

Geo landscapes in Gata cape

Geology in Gata Cape (Cabo de Gata) as a different way to understand landscape

Cabo de Gata mountains are built-up with very peculiar materials; mainly there can be found magmatic rocks coming from very ancient volcanic activity. It is something very different to that happened in the mountains bordering this are, that are named Baetic Ranges (sierras Béticas) and are mainly metamorphic; also these magmatic materials are very different to those others in the nearby coastal depressions, that are mainly compounds of seaside shores and shallow-water sedimentary rocks, where can be found fossil shells of Strombus bubonius… a big sea-snail that lived here 200.000 years ago (actually can be found in tropical areas as Senegal coast).

The volcanic condition of Gata Geopark rocks is due to its intense and active geological past, starting aproximately 15 millions of years ago, just when the magamatic flows started to arise up to the surface of the sea in the not faraway area of Alboran Sea (Alboran island is actually part of Almeria province, offshore). Indeed these Gata rocks are part of this huge magmatic area, just emerged from the sea at this point and in the named Alboran island. The last Gata Geopark active volcanoes were extinguished around 7,5 million years ago.

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Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – emerged volcanic domes.

Just at Gata Cape there can be recognized unique massive emergent volcanic rocks, that have been identified by geologists as volcanic domes.  A volcanic dome is an elevation in the land (can be up to 500 metres altitude) shaped as a coliflower or dome, that is the solidification result of very dense lava; this density avoid that lava mass move away by gravity as a fluid, and become solid very nearby to the place where it came up to the surface. Sometimes pressure generate lava explosions, generating a new class of rocks called Piroclastics or Ignimbrites (literally fire-rocks).

Between two different geological moments, lava density can be changed and become less dense… and flow then as a lava river. These three different density moments can be perfectly spotted in some areas at Gata GeoPark.

The hexagonal structures that can be seen in some of the places are generated by lava retraction after have being cooled, generating one of the most amazing Geo landscapes in the world.

Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark -  and uses of the land.
Geo landscapes in Gata Geopark – and uses of the land.

  BOOK YOUR gata geopark trip NOW 

Our Gata Geopark partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Agave bloom

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Agave bloom landscape linked to movie sets and literature locations: Cortijo del Fraile in Cabo de Gata; the inspiration of Federico Garcia Lorca Blood Weddings.

Agave bloom

Almeria landscape generally, and mainly Cabo de Gata National Park… are highly linked to botany; dwarf fan palm tree, fig tree, pome granate, almonds and olive trees, sparto grass, prickly pear or agave plant are common shrubs and trees found everywhere in this nice south-iberian region.

The agave plant, also known as Century plant in North America or pita and pitaco in Spain, is really not originary from Europe, although it is so present in our arid landscape that it would be very different without them. Century plant´s name is given to the Blue agave (Agave americana) because it spends a lot of time before finally blossoming (after blooming, the plant dies). It is just the time that the plant needs to store all the required energy nutrients for when favorable weather allows it to develop the long sticks that will bring up with blooming.

For this Agave plant a dry and hot hot hot summer as this one we are suffering in 2015 is the greatest moment for blooming. It is just time for doing that: agave blossom time.

Agave bloom landscape: a unique experience only happening in Almeria mediterranean unusual deserts.
Agave bloom landscape: a unique experience only happening in Almeria mediterranean unusual deserts.

In Almeria lands there can be mainly found three species of Agave plants: Agave furcroydes and agave sisalana, planted in past times for taking the so-called sisal fiber, and Agave americana that is a bigger shrub than others and has been used for different purposes, as building corrals or ladders with its sticks, fences with the plants by themselves or agave sirope with blossoms´ honey.

The problem with sisal was that at the same time that first entrepeneurs begun to manage big plantations for obteining the fiber, just then plastic fiber was discovered and comercialized under a cheaper price; so the pita growths (pitares) were abandoned just at the beggining, before they could show if were profitable or not.

From these abandoned plantations come the actual agave landscape that can be found in the area of Nijar and Cabo de Gata National Park. It is something that must be mentioned that this plant, after blooming, develop small plants on the top of the sticks, that afterwards are blown by the wind, generating new plants. So Almeria province is actually a wild agave forest, deared by many people and not so much by others, that see in the agave-plant an invasive species in competition with local vegetation.

Agave bloom in Almeria cultural and human landscape.
Agave bloom in Almeria cultural and human landscape.

In any case the agave plant or century plant is highly linked to Almeria´s landscape; so much that we can say that agave bloom is a part of Almeria´s cultural and human landscape so as part of its natural history, although it is happening in the area only since few centuries ago.

When it is hot hot hot in Almeria it is time to look for the agave bloom; ideal moments for photographers so as naturalists and for every person in love with natural mediterranean landscape.  Almeria, come and see.

Do you want to visit the agave bloom??…

  BOOK YOUR AGAVE BLOOM TRIP NOW 

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

Cabo de Gata coastline

Cabo de Gata coastline: littoral steppes estuaries.
Cabo de Gata coastline: littoral steppes estuaries.

Cabo de Gata coastline

Cabo de Gata coastline in Almeria´s eastern bay, is basically formed by a beach line; to understand this long shore we can say that in some places what we see is really the active sand generated by erosion and movement of particles broken by the sea water, under an intense and continuous activity; in other places we will find fossil beaches and in only a couple of places there happen some marshes with permanent water, called estuaries (ramblas).

The littoral steppe of Almeria bay (Cabo de Gata = Gata cape) has been invaded by the sea along the last 5 millions of years. The continuous raising up of Alhamilla mountains (at the north) has generated from these geological times its ongoing retreat till 900.000 years ago aproximately… that placed the coast line in a similar position than actually.

Along all this time lots of sediments of the newly emerged mountains were collected here at the seabed; these sediments were afterwards exposed after the retreat of the water; so the fossil coastline of old ages has been perfectly preserved and can be seen with lots (also perfectly preserved) of creatures living here in this past coastline. Some of these fossil records have been dated in between 250.000-95.000 years ago. Among these records there it is a creature whose latin name is Strombus bubonius, that actually live in tropical coasts at the african Atlantic coast, reporting us valuable information about what was the weather in Almeria coast 200.000 years ago.

Cabo de Gata coastline fossil beach, partially emerged.
Cabo de Gata coastline fossil beach, partially emerged.

The estuaries of some ramblas (ouads = temporary seasonal riverbeds) are also conditioned by geological processes as erosion-sedimentation or the presence of faults. These places store natural water with different compositions, but mainly it is highly brackish, and they are very important places for sedentary and migratory birdlife (resting and feeding areas); the dynamic acivity of these estuaries change along seasons, attending to dryness or flashfloods activity.

Around the estuaries there can be found natural habitats formed by sand dunes and specific vegetation capable to fix this sand to the ground (by the roots) and avoiding so that it is transported by the wind, generating loss of soil and problems in neighbour usable lands; in past decades this sand was taken away for building greenhouses in the new and prosperous business of intensive agriculture; actually all the ecosystem is protected.

Cabo de Gata coastline: saltmarashes and saltpans.
Cabo de Gata coastline: saltmarashes and saltpans.

The saltmarshes of Cabo de Gata in Almeria are by themselves one of the environmental most valued ecosystems in Andalucia (southernmost Spain´s region with 8 provinces, including Almeria), and also one of the most important in the Mediterranean coast. One of the few places in the iberian coast where it can be found a healthy population of greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), using the territory along all the seasons, also in summer… although they don´t breed here.

3.000 years ago the littoral coastline was nearly in the same position than actually. Sediments transported to the bay and coming from the nearby Andarax river (delta is in Almeria town) and the dominant wind of West… generated the formation of a permanent sandbar, that was slowly growing till it enclosed totally a small portion of the ancient bay, building so a small enclosed sea or gulf: the actual marshes and pans.

Once the gulf was totally enclosed, people of cultures living here from very old times ago (romans/phoenicians/amazighs), learnt to use the deposits of salt for their own interest; these deposits were generated naturally after the sea storms, and so on it has been done till actually, when salt is still worked/mined here, but in a different way, adapted to profitability in modern times… transporting directly the water from the sea at the actual Cabo de Gata coastline and taking technical control of all the process and timing used in it.

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

almerianature@mailbox.org

Almeria landscape volcanism

Almeria landscape volcanism: basalt columns at the seaside.
Almeria landscape volcanism: basalt columns at the seaside.

Almeria landscape volcanism

A unique place in Almeria landscape and totally different of others is the Cabo de Gata Sierra (Range of mountains of Gata Cape). Its geological origin is mainly volvanic, and much more younger than other territories in the actual almerian geography. Its age has been estimated by scientists in approximately 14 to 7 millions of years ago.

Indeed the area of Gata Cape (Cabo de Gata) is only a small emerged portion of a wide submerged (under the sea) area underneath the so-named Mar de Alboran (Alboran Sea), between Africa and Europe continents.

Did you know that the tiny Alboran Island is a part of Almeria province?. Actually it is used only for science research and as a spanish advanced military position overseas.

This volcanic activity happened, at least partially, below the Sea level. It has been supposed that what happened was that the volcanoes finally emerged as islands, creating an authentic volcanic archipelago. Around these small volcanic islands, in the middle of warm subtropical sea waters, grew abundantly the corals (Anthozoa – Cnidaria), building coastal atolls and reefs, that still can be seen very clearly in some locations at the National/Natural Park.

Almeria landscape volcanism: massif of volcanic fluids.
Almeria landscape volcanism: massif of volcanic fluids.

Hydrothermal fluids would change later the volcanic rocks composition, so as sometimes happened in the nearby Baetic Mountains, mineralizing them and generating so unique and abundant metallic deposits.

To understand the actual Cabo de Gata landscape we need to understand two different concepts: one is the Plates Tectonic movement, that is responsible of the slow raising of the rocks, so that submerged lands are now totally offshore; the second concept is the dryness of the area in whichit rains very scarcely… but when it does happen, usually water come down from the sky generously in only a moment (some minutes or hours), generating the so usual flash-floods that are the responsible of a high level of erosion, also so important to read and understand the actual configuration of Cabo de Gata volcanic landscape.

Almeria landscape volcanism: basaltic columns at the seaside.
Almeria landscape volcanism: basaltic columns at the seaside.

The main rocks that can be found in the area are basalts/andesites , ignimbrites/bentonites and lots of conglomerates everywhere. Some metamorphic rocks (micaschist/quartz) also can be found in the ramblas (temporary bed of seasonal rivers) but these materials really have been not generated in this area… but moved along time from the faraway Filabres and Alhamilla mountains, dragged with the water of the mentioned flash-floods.

Gold, silver and lead among other minerals, have been mined in the area along times since the ancient Roman Empire era, so as basalt cobbles were quarried for being used in the past 20th Century for paving roads in Almeria town and other main villages nearby or faraway.

Do you want to discover this amazing place and understand its geological landscape?. Join us in an unforgettable trip to the southernmost place of Europe.

Did you know that in Cabo de Gata National Park there is a place baptized (by me) as The Dwarf Causeway?? Can you imagin the reason for that???

Come and see our Almeria landscape volcanism in Cabo de Gata National Park.

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

almerianature@mailbox.org

Cabo de Gata summertime

Cabo de Gata summertime: Jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca  sailing free.
Cabo de Gata summertime: Jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca sailing free.

Cabo de Gata summertime

Cabo de Gata summertime, an amazing season to discover the most amazing and undiscovered world submerged under Mediterranean waters; it is just really time to go down and look for it; swimming with jellyfishes (Mauve stinger as an example) will make us feel as if we were in the middle of the open ocean, with an important difference: we are on-shore. Do not forget your wet-suit for in case of …  Anyway the best option is being guided by a local expert that knows any criature here down and up the sea. Do you dare to join Jesus a snorkeling trip in Cabo de Gata National Park?. Only in summer time.

Enjoying wildlife under the sea is not only to live the experience of seeing and touching; knowledge is important, so that we can understand that not all creatures are natural in some of the places, but have been introduced by human activity, as for example this nice crab Sally Lightfoot, whose latin name is Percnon gibbesi; anyway it is also another jewel in our seas, although not very deared by conservationists.

Cabo de Gata summertime: Percnon gibessi is an invasive species.
Cabo de Gata summertime: Percnon gibessi is an invasive species.

Indeed, if you want to come for discovering the deep ocean in shallow waters, to feel adrenaline flowing from your brain… but with totally safety, feeling and touching with your feet the sea bottom at any moment, be very sure that this snorkeling trip is your challenge in Almeria for this summer.

Welcome to the protected Gata Cape and its Neptune Grass prairies (Posidonia oceanica). Environmental permits are required for running this educational activity. Last photo: White sea bream (Diplodus sargo).

Cabo de Gata summertime: white sea bream in rocky seabed.
Cabo de Gata summertime: white sea bream in rocky seabed.

Our partners:

Picachico | Casas Rurales en Almeria

Hostal Rural Restaurante Alba

Hotel MC San Jose. Parque Natural Cabo de Gata Nijar (Almeria)

Spanish Nature

Spanish Highs Mountain Guides, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Kisacar Rent A Car

Jesus Contreras

almerianature@mailbox.org