Molina-Alto Tajo Geopark

Websitehttp://www.geoparquemolina.es

Molina de Aragón-Alto Tajo Geopark is in the Castellana area of the Iberian mountain  range, between the watersheds of the rivers Ebro, to the north, and Tajo river, to the south, exerting decisive influence in shaping the landscape, wildlife flora and human settlements of the region. It is mainly shaped by the Mesozoic rocks , but there are extensive outcrops of Paleozoic and Tertiary.

This Geopark is characterized mainly by its great geodiversity , which determined a significant biodiversity. It also features continuous sedimentary sequences telling the story of the main events on Earth in the past 400 million years , such as the stratigraphic series of the Upper Ordovician , Silurian , Permo – Triassic and  Lower Jurassic.

The stratotype section at Fuentelsaz is an example of this exceptional sedimentary record. This enclave is considered the best place worldwide to study the Toarcian-Aalenian boundary by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which also defines the boundary between the Lower and Middle Jurassic series, about 175 million years ago. It was the first of four GSSP (Global Boundary stratotype Section and Point) existing in Spain and so it was declared in 2000 by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).

The Global Geosites project (2000-2007), developed by more than 70 experts from different geological disciplines, identified 20 geological contexts of international importance in Spain, two of them represented in the Molina -Alto Tajo Geopark : sedimentary and metamorphic series of the Lower Paleozoic and Mesozoic Stratoypes of the Iberian and Baetic mountains. Later, they identified 144 Spanish Geosites, which represent the Spanish contribution to global geological heritage, five of them located within Geopark territory: The stratotype section at Fuentelsaz ; The stratotype at Barranco de la Hoz; outcrop of graptolites in Checa;  Permian fossil trees in the Sierra de Aragoncillo mountains and  Dropstone and Lower Silurian section in Checa.

The Tajo river canyon, which crosses the Geopark from east to west, is its geographical axis, forming the most dense network of river canyons of the Iberian Peninsula, among them, we can distinguish the canyons of Gallo, Seca, Mesa and Piedra rivers. But this territory is also noted for its geomorphological diversity, which results in a large variety of landscapes: There are examples of karst formations, such as the impressive tufa buildings in San Pedro Bridge and “El Campillo”, the Hoya del Espino limestone pavement or the Tornero cave (with nearly 9 kilometers of underground tour) and periglacial formations, with magnificent examples of blocks rivers in the Orea mountains. The spectacular reliefs on conglomerates and sandstones of the Sierra de Caldereros, Chequilla environment or the Hoz Canyon are also notable for its beauty.

Molina de Aragón is also the type locality of “aragonite” mineral, emblem of the Spanish Society of Mineralogy, which was first described in 1788 by the german researcher, Abraham Gottlob Werner.

About half of the territory of the Geopark is protected under the figure of Alto Tajo Natural Park, declared in 2000 by the Castilla la Mancha government. In December 2005, a total of 2,368 hectares of the Sierra de Caldereros were recognized as Natural Monument.

There are also several Sites of Community Interest (SCI) included in the Natura 2000 network, as the Maranchón moorlands, Mesa ravine and Aragoncillo; Picaza mountains and juniper forest in Alustante-Tordesilos. However, some major attractions are outside this protection framework, as the fossil forest of the Sierra de Aragoncillo, a unique area because of its age (about 290 million years), its condition and due to its fossil trees preserved in an unusal life position. In this sense, the Geopark intends to provide a platform to promote the implementation of protection figures, as a previous step to its exploitation, with the aim of promoting the conservation of these Sites.

Finally, from an  archaeological point of view, the Molina -Alto Tajo Geopark has significant traces of rock art that provides evidence of the age of its human settlements, such as paintings and engravings from Upper Paleolithic located in “Los Casares” Cave. This cave is listed as a Historic-Artistic Monument since 1935 and a guided tour is available for groups. There are also numerous Celtiberian hillforts and necropolis, three of them declared of Cultural Interest ( BIC ) : ” The Ceremeño ” in Herrería ; ” The Rodiles ” in Cubillejo de la Sierra and ” Peña Moñuz ” in Olmeda de Cobeta.

Contact

Museo Comarcal de Molina de Aragón
Plaza de San Francisco S/N
Tlf: 949 83 11 02

web: www.geoparquemolina.com