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El Torcal, Antequera

The artistic ability of Mother Nature

The water was murky in the ancient El Torcal. Murky but ever so calm. The only sound, the silent swish of giants lazily patrolling, whose enormous bodies momentarily obscure the sun far above.

El Torcal in the province of Málaga, is a remnant of the ancient past, a record of our planet written in stone and open to anyone who can read the signs. 200 million years ago, this whole area was below the sea, a great stretch of water, known to humans as the Tethys Ocean, that lay between Gondwanaland to the south and Laurasia to the north. Time had no meaning then and, when Tethys existed, not even the Atlantic Ocean had begun to yawn.

In the lands surrounding this calm sea, dinosaurs and great magnificent reptiles roamed endless plains and in the deep waters, huge beasts patrolled the deeps seeking sustenance necessary to feed such gigantic bodies. It was a time of blind need when nature ruled supreme and there was no requirement for diplomacy.

In the relatively quiet ocean of Tethys, and over millions of years, an endless rain of shells and skeletons of marine animals fell from the waters above and, as the currents were low, these accumulated and were compacted and heated and, ever so slowly, were baked hard converted to the uniform grey limestone which, as this whole region as well as the mountains along the coast, formed part of the extensive Tethys, is common the area.

Of course, all things end and, some 20 million years ago, mighty forces that accompany tectonic activity, slowly compressed the rocks and forced them, over time, into high mountains thus exposing the rocks to the forces of erosion. The release of pressure on the rocks, caused them to crack and let in water that has formed the familiar karst terrane that we see today.

The collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates that caused the formation of these once impressive mountains, is still ongoing but the cycle continues and the mountains are slowly returning to the sea.

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