Formation of the landscape
The Natural Park of El Torcal is characterized by the impressive karstic landscape made of limestone.
Its formation is due to a process that has lasted several hundred million years. For this we must go back about 200 million years, when much of Europe and the Middle East were submerged under the sea of Tethys, begins a process of carbonated sedimentation, caused by the accumulation and deposit of skeletons and shells of marine animals at the bottom of the sea that will last about 175 million years. These sediments have been accumulating and compacting at different levels, forming the horizontal strata of thicknesses of thousands of meters.
Towards the middle Miocene, as a consequence of the thrust between the Iberian plates to the north of the Tethys Sea and the African to the south, the accumulated sediments are compressed, deformed and fractured until emerging in a slow and continuous process that still remains. Once the relief emerged, the prolonged action of meteorological agents such as water, ice and wind on the limestone, modeled the spectacular karst landscape of El Torcal de Antequera.
The geological structure of El Torcal Natural Park is another aspect that has favored the process of dissolving the limestones. A large mushroom-shaped fold, with a very wide top and horizontal layers, and short, steep flanks, limited by significant fractures, favors the accumulation of water on the surface and its infiltration. The karst behaves like a large sponge, stores the rainwater and transmits it to the interior, thus favoring the underground dissolution, to finally evacuate it back to the outside at its lowest part, along the entire perimeter of El Torcal, being the most important water spring the “Nacimiento de La Villa”, located on the north side.
Apart from the karstic landscape that we can all appreciate with a simple look, we have to take into account the characteristic underground karst system in this type of land and that in El Torcal is translated with more than a hundred of caves and shales formed by the dissolution of the limestones.