GEOToursim: The Ruta Geologica Transpirenaica
Article by Stephen Pickering
I imagine most of us have already planned a vacation this year, but for those still pondering where to go the Trans-Pyrenean Geological Trail is a great reason to Remain in Europe for your holiday.
The Pyrenees orogenic mountain chain dividing France and Spain, were formed by the collision of the micro-continent Iberia and the southwestern promontory of the European continental plate. The two continents were approaching each other since the onset of the Upper Cretaceous about 100 million years ago and were consequently colliding during the Paleogene 55 to 25 million years ago. After its uplift, the chain experienced intense erosion and isostatic readjustments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_the_Pyrenees
The Ruta Geologica Transpirenaica tranverses a 200 km cross-section through the chain which has an asymmetric flower-like structure with steeper dips on the French side. Starting from Pau in southern France you travel across the Pyrenees to the small village of Murillo de Gállego, in the Aragon region of Northern Spain. There is no need for extensive walking as at each locality there are explanatory descriptions of the geology on view, the whole trail can be covered by car in a day. Unfortunately, the information boards are not in English so some preparation is required for those like myself lacking in linguistic skills. I recommend downloading the field guide from the website http://www.routetranspyreneenne.com/ and selective translation with Google Translate. Close to the border lies the Parc National des Pyrénées, fantastic scenery and a good place for lunch.
If you feel daunted by the distances and have a need to develop your geological skills then you might consider the NExT course Introduction to Geology. The course in Pau includes a daytrip along the Ruta Geologica Transpirenaica. http://www.nexttraining.net/Sessions/Details/30896/Introduction-to-Geology-Including-Pyrenees-Field-Trip.aspx
Once you have completed Ruta Geologica Transpirenaica you may wish to Leave Europe via Bilbao or Santander.