Aliaga is a small settlement in Teruel province, Spain. The village provided the opportunity to experience life in a real Spanish village far away from the usual tourist trails and hotspots which many people associate with a trip to Spain.The village had all the basic amenities needed, there were several bars which served a brilliant beer just what was needed after a hard day’s work in the field. The only restaurant in the village served a good range of food and had some very interesting outcrops just meters away from the building. During my 2 week trip the village held one of its yearly fiestas, during this time the village’s population doubles if not triples with people coming from all over Spain, I met some students that had come from Barcelona for the few days that the fiesta was on. The people were very friendly and welcoming, especially the younger citizens who were keen to try the English they had learnt out on us.
The geology of the Aliaga area is outstanding, for this reason it is protected by geopark status and hammering is not allowed. All the rocks are sedimentary and are packed full of fossils such as ostracods, and in some areas dinosaur footprints can be observed. These dinosaur footprints are thought to belong to a Theropod. The geology becomes complicated in places where there is folding which is the result of plate tectonics, and faults which displace the rock units by up to a few metres. These features are key to exploring and understanding the Mesozoic and Tertiary evolution of the Iberian Plate. In the town of Aliaga there is a small museum which is geology based and is worth a visit. It shows finds from around the area, such as fossils and explains the evolution of the area through time. A simple web search can provide extended information on the geology of the region.
To begin with we walked a road section with the lectures. This section cut through all the units that we would be mapping in the area, so it was important to split the section up into mappable units. The units were defined by the sudden changes, for example a sudden lithological change from sand to mud. Two days were spent walking the section getting detailed descriptions of each unit, these descriptions would be useful to refer back to when writing up a report and to help identify the units while out mapping.
The first day of mapping was slow and not much ground was covered but as the week progressed more ground was covered because my field techniques such as taking measurements and triangulating my position on the map were getting quicker. The type of mapping that I used was boundary mapping this was easy to do because the exposure was good in the area. Because the exposure was so good, Google map images of the area could be used to help identify large scale features such as faults in the field.
The final product
The final product was a geological map covering approximately 2km². I was really pleased, as this trip had been the first time I had done geological mapping and doing it independently added to the satisfaction. However I knew that this was just the beginning, because when I got back to the UK I would have to analyse and write up a report using the data collected in my field notebook and from the map.