For anyone with an interest in Geology, Aledo is a fascinating area, rich in fossils and rock formations demonstrating the various stages which lead to the creation of the Region of Murcia. The text is quite difficult to read, but if you have an interest in this type of thing you may find it interesting, Click Geology of Aledo.
This has resulted in the area being listed as being of LIG, a location of Geological interest.
For those with a more general interest, a walk has been created which takes walkers down and back 20 million years, the walk through time.
The first port of call is the rocky outcrop on which the castle itself stands. Especially on the south face of the outcrop, at the base of the tower, it is possible to see colonies of coral (Tarbellastraea sp.) interspersed with exceptionally well preserved lithophages (bi-valvular marine beings which live in the rocks, like sea dates) and fragments of oysters.
From the castle, the Torre del Homenaje head down towards a bronze sculpture of a door, which shows the cultural events and fiestas taking place in Aledo each year, and you´ll see the Picota. This cylindrical brick structure is a pillory, a place of execution and is the only one remaining in the region of Murcia. Click Picota.
Here again the rocks which surround the pillory are full of fossils.
Follow the road down, the Calle de los Romanos, where there is a splendid view of the land to the west of Aledo, and in the rock out of which the street has been hewn it is possible to observe the debris which was transported by the Nonihay delta to the tropical beaches in the area which is now Aledo. Among the plentiful fossils which are well preserved in the rock are examples of bivalvia (Ostrea sp., Pecten sp., Clhamys sp., Spondylus, Cardium sp. etc.), large echinoderms (Clypeaster sp.) and vast accumulations of nummulites (Heterostegina sp.).
These organisms were for the most part transported here, crushed and piled up by the avalanches of sediment from the torrents gushing down from Sierra Espuña. This can be seen by the fact that, on close examination of the seven-million-year-old rock, it is possible to make out pieces of dolostone and red conglomerate which are far older than most of the rock, dating back 200 million years. Some of these fragments are quite large, and they are typical of the Baetic system which can be seen, for example, in the area of the Santuario de Santa Eulalia, further down the valley towards Totana.
Continuing down the street we can see a darker layer of rock where manganese oxides have accumulated, and a whitish wall of rock. This is a joint through which water filtered, laden with calcium bicarbonate, and the dripping of the water has left a layer of calcite which has the appearance of false agate. This is a perfect example of how mineral deposits can be formed, and helps us to see the process almost at first hand.
Leaving the road and descending by a stony path which has been built recently, we find a track which runs all the way round the hill of Aledo. Unfortunately, the track is not in prime condition, and on the eastern side of the hill there is such an accumulation of rubble that it is practically impassable. Even so, it’s worth following the path, as it gives an interesting alternative view of the hill and the base of the castle walls. Here the yellowish sandstone of the Aledo formation can be seen, which arose from beaches which were the home of early living organisms in prehistoric times. It is still possible to see the evidence of these early animals, both in the fossilized shells which they left on the sea bed and, more especially, if we dig down into the small pits a couple of feet deep which were formed on the floor of the ocean. To touch the sand here is quite an experience: in many places it is still loose, and it’s almost possible to imagine the sea bed and the tropical beaches as they would have been millions of years ago. By happy chance the action of Man in making this path has enriched the geological heritage of the area, since the rocks which have been used to strengthen the path contain striking examples of pyrolusite crystallization.
Further along the path we can enjoy the sight of other geological processes which are still ongoing today, such as weathering. These processes are shaping the walls here, leaving blocks of fallen rock, small foothills and fantastic examples of tangled hollows which are known as “tafonis”. There are also good examples of the faults which ran through the sandstone cliffs of the Aledo formation.
One very interesting feature of this landscape are the features created by water action.
Under the permeable sandstone, which allows water to pass through the cracks in it, are the marine marls of the Carivete formation.
These are impermeable, and where the two layers meet there are small springs: the hill on which Aledo stands is a clear example of an aquifer which has become detached from the rest of the sub-structure and has remained in isolation.
One of the best examples of this is at the start of the route, where there is a gallery: if we climb up the hill a little we come across another gallery, which the locals refer to as “El Pozo de los Moros”. This was a system for collecting water from underground reserves, which made it possible for the castle of Aledo to withstand long sieges, and there are still remains of “La Torreta”, the tower which was used to defend this precious natural resource. Click for more info "El Pozo de los Moros" which translates as "The Moor's Well".
Moving along the path there is the chance to take photos of the base of the walls and the Torre del Homenaje which looks out over the limestone escarpment. Those who wish for more geological features can go further down the hill to see the oldest rocks in the area, the marine sandstone of the Manilla formation and the red conglomerates of Carraclaca: with this our tour is complete, and we have seen a cross-section of all the rock types in this large sedimentary basin.
Those with vehicles may enjoy heading off down through the farmed areas of Aledo, which were terraced by the Moors and then into the Rambla itself. Leaving Aledo and heading towards the Sierra Espuña, there is a left hand turning. Shortly afterwards another left hand turning indicates a senderismo walking route: follow this down into the Arab terraces and the road leads out into the rough mountainside and the Rambla.
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