The Westernmost Tethys Blog Geology mapping, basin analysis and 3D modeling


Santiago Moliner Aznar Ph D. Thesis

Filed under: Geological Heritage — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 10:09 AM

Santiago Moliner Aznar defended the Ph. D. Thesis “Caracterización y valorización del patrimonio geológico del área de Sierra Espuña (Cordillera Bética: SE, España” on April 27th 2022.


The Sierra Espuña area (Murcia: SE Spain) is characterized by their great biodiversity integrated in the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean. Although authorities are very interested in valorization and protection of biodiversity (flora and fauna), the interest in geological heritage is still much lower. So, this PH Thesis tries to show and give value to the very best sites of geologic interest recognizable in the area (Sierra Espuña and the Mula-Pliego-Gebas Depression). So, 55 sites have been proposed as suitable to be considered as geological heritage. The characterization of these sites is done through an approach of combination of recent methods practiced and published. The methodology allows the identification of general data, physical description, evaluation of scientific value (SV), the Potential Educational Use (PEU), Potential Tourism Use (PTU) and the Degradation Risk (DR). The use of the quantification methodology (Brilha, 2016) confirmed that the sites of the Regional Park of Sierra Espuña are of international relevance with a solid and objective inventory. Similarly, the results of the valorization indicate that 51 sites have high or very high scientific value, while all the sites reach high or very high didactic and touristic values. Contrarily, the degradational risk is mostly low or moderate. Only 19 sites show high or very high values. The inventoried sites are distributed over Sierra Espuña Regional Park and neighboring areas (Mula-Pliego-Gebas Depression), being located along pedestrian paths, trails, tracks and motorways. These sites present a wide variety of geological typologies such as structural geology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, paleontology, geomaterials, petrology, geomorphology, hydraulic and hydrogeology. The valuation of the selected geosites led us to their distribution and integration in 8georoutes (El Berro, with 8 sites; Las Alquerías, with 7 sites; Cumbres Espuña, with 7 sites; Valle de Malvariche, with 9 sites; Aledo-La Santa, with 5 sites; Pliego Depression, with 6 sites; Paraje de Gebas, with 7 sites; Mula, with 6 sites). Finally, some actions following the criteria of the Global Geoparks Network by UNESCO have been proposed for the better conservation of the geosites but also to contribute to education and to promote tourism. These actions would also stimulate economic activity and sustainable development in the area by attracting increasing numbers of visitors interested in the geological heritage.


Sierra Espuña Malaguide an example of geological heritage

Filed under: Cenozoic,Geological Heritage,Tectonosedimentary model — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 3:28 PM

The Cenozoic Malaguide Basin from Sierra Espuña (Internal Betic Zone, S Spain) due to the quality of outcropping, areal representation, and continuity in the sedimentation can be considered a key-basin. In the last 30 years, a large number of studies with very different methodological approaches have been done in the area. Models indicate an evolution from passive margin to wedgetop basin from Late Cretaceous to Early Miocene. Sedimentation changes from limestone platforms with scarce terrigenous inputs, during the Paleocene to Early Oligocene, to the deep basin with huge supplies of turbidite sandstones and conglomerates during the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene. The area now appears structured as an antiformal stack with evidence of synsedimentary tectonics. The Cenozoic tectono-sedimentary basin evolution is related to three phases: (1) flexural tectonics during most of the Paleogene times to create the basin; (2) fault and fold compartmentation of the basin with the creation of structural highs and subsiding areas related to blind-fault-propagation folds, deforming the basin from south to north during Late Oligocene to Early Aquitanian times; (3) thin-skin thrusting tectonics when the basin began to be eroded during the Late Aquitanian-Burdigalian. In recent times some works on the geological heritage of the area have been performed trying to diffuse different geological aspects of the sector to the general public. A review of the studies performed and the revisiting of the area allow proposing different key-outcrops to follow the tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Cenozoic basin from this area. Eight sites of geological interest have been selected (Cretaceous-Cenozoic boundary, Paleocene Mula Fm, Lower Eocene Espuña- Valdelaparra Fms, Middle Eocene Malvariche-Cánovas Fms, Lowermost Oligocene As Fm, Upper Oligocene-Lower Aquitanian Bosque Fm, Upper Oligocene-Aquitanian Río Pliego Fm, Burdigalian El Niño Fm) and an evaluation has been performed to obtain four parameters: the scientific value, the educational and touristic potential, and the degradation risk. The firsts three parameters obtained values above 50 being considered of “high” or “very high” interest (“very high” in most of the cases). The last parameter shows always values below 50 indicating a “moderate” or “low” risk of degradation. The obtained values allow us considering the tectono-sedimentary evolution of this basin worthy of being proposed as a geological heritage.

(C) Detail of the fossils from the Malvariche Fm. (D) Field outcrop of the Cánovas Fm with flat larger foraminifera. (E) Solitary corals collected in the Cánovas Fm. (F) Thin section of the Cánovas Fm: flat larger foraminifera.


Cite as: Moliner-Aznar, S.; Martín-Martín, M.; Rodríguez-Estrella, T.; Romero-Sánchez, G. The Cenozoic Malaguide Basin from Sierra Espuña (Murcia, S Spain): An Example of Geological Heritage. Geosciences 2021, 11, 34. geosciences11010034

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