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Maestrazgo Cultural Park

 

Introduction:

The Maestrazgo Cultural Park is a nice natural area, as well as an exceptional laboratory for exploring the Mesozoic and Tertiary evolution of the Iberian Plate. Some of its splendid geological formations and structures, modelled into impressive landforms, are highly valued for scientific and educational activities. These mainly focus the attention on the Aliaga Geopark, located in the western Maestrazgo. Field-work stages by students from the universities of Utrecht, Plymouth and Cardiff, Practical Course on Geology of the Summer University of Teruel, and field-trips developed within the framework of different scientific congresses and symposia are usual each year in this area. But it also has a high interest for tourist people, whose knowledge about nature and geology benefits from the results of intense scientific research carried out in the last tens of years.

The Aliaga Geopark includes eleven points of special interest showing explanatory diagrams and panels, all them located at distances up to 7 km from Aliaga. Some of them offer panoramic views of the geological formations, tectonic structures and landforms. Other outcrops show details of continental and marine sediments, minerals and fossils, as well as spectacular folds and tectonic faults. The ensemble of points constitutes an itinerary representative of the regional geology, suitable to be visited in one or two days. The Geopark was promoted by the municipality of Aliaga (Teruel province) and the Department of Geology of the Zaragoza University, and it has got financial support by the regional government of Aragon, Leader program of the European Union, Plan Miner of the Spanish Government, and local council of Comarca Cuencas Mineras. On the other hand, this project makes a part of the Maestrazgo Cultural Park, which provides legal support and protection for the natural and historical heritage of the region. The Mestrazgo Cultural Park is one of the founding members of the European Geoparks Network.

 

 

 

A high variety of scientific questions are currently researched at the Aliaga Geopark: the geometry and evolution of Mesozoic sedimentary basins; the 'snake-like', vertical-axis folds which affect Cretaceous limestones; the kinematics of folding recorded in Tertiary continental deposits, or the multiple directions of tectonic stress. A continuous flow exists from the results of such investigations to the pedagogic or tourist products, since many geologists working in the area both make basic research and popularize their results through educational programs or newspaper articles.

A number of books and leaflets show the results of such an information"flow". These have been published in the last ten years for every type of users: a complete scientific guidebook for university people, a short guidebook for tourist people, pedagogic tools for primary and secondary schools (including field notebooks and an interactive CD published in 2004 and widely diffused among teachers), and a comic for children.

Recently, an ancient industrial building has been restored for being used as a visitors centre of the Aliaga Geopark. It includes a room that can be used both as a laboratory for students and as a lecture room for small meetings, conferences or workshops. A second room will soon become a small Geology museum which will make easier the interpretation of the geological processes to the visitors. At present, the design of this museum is ready and we hope it will be finished next year.

 

 

 

 

The Maestrazgo Cultural Park also has an important paleontological heritage, that is studied and excavated by the Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel. A big museum in Teruel city and a network of small exhibition centres all around the Teruel province made up the Dinopolis project, linked to the F.C.P.T. and promoted by the regional government of Aragón. Two of these centres are located within Maestrazgo. The first one is at Galve, a small village with an important ensemble of dinosaur fossils: a nice exposition, a number of footprint sites, and real-scale reconstructions of the most representative specimens. The second one, still in project, will be built near Castellote, where an interesting site of Cretaceous petrified trunks was found some years ago.

Scientific research, educational activities, popularizing of knowledge on the earth processes, and geotourism products should not be dissociate to each other within the overall management plans of geoparks. It is important that researchers consider the cultural and social results as an important target of their studies. It is also necessary that the contents of geotourism products are closely linked to the current interpretations made by researchers.

Contact:

Parque Cultural del Maestrazgo

C/ Mayor, 3

E-44556 Molinos (Teruel), Spain

e-mail:parquecultural@maestrazgo.org

Luis Alcala

Dinopolis Foundation

44002 Teruel, Spain

e-mail: alcala@fundaciondinopolis.org

websites:

http://www.maestrazgo.org

http://www.geoparquemaestrazgo.com

 

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