“What is your favourite place to do field work?” is the question Dave Schumaker at Geology News is asking as
last this month’s Accretionary Wedge.
I am extremely lucky having a job that allows me out into the field occasionally, even if at the minute it is just down the road. In my top five I would have to include the Atacama Desert of Chile, Iceland, Colorado and the Alps but at number one has to be the Spanish Pyrenees.
I’ve been many times, as a postgraduate demonstrator and lecturer on undergraduate field courses and twice as a field assistant to a Ph.D. student. However, I’ve not been back in a long time, so apologies in advance for the scans of twenty year old slides.
The Spanish Pyrenees is a classic place to teach geology. The Spanish side (unlike the French side) is arid so there is excellent exposure, and, unlike the Alps, they are not too high and much of the geology is accessible from the roadside (with a suitable loose definition of road).
The geology shows a superb interrelationship of sedimentation and tectonics with the sediments eroded from the high Pyrenees being progressively deformed as the mountain front advances.
The variety of geology is also stunning from vertical bedding to trace fossils.
The local cuisine is excellent with chorizo, pyrenean mountain cheese and local wild boar washed down vino tinto. The only exception to this is breakfast (sweet cake is not my favourite at the best of times) but we did manage to train a cafe owner in Jaca in the art of bacon and egg butty making.
Of all the places in the Spanish Pyrenees I think my favourite has to be the Ordesa National Park. From the olistostromes at Torla to the climb up to Monte Perdido is the most spectacular walk I have ever done. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking.
One day I shall return.