Spain Relief

Spain Relief


Towards the north, the Aragonese syncline and the last digits of the Iberian mountains lead to another area of ​​confused reliefs – the so-called low massif – separating the Pyrenean mountain range from the Cantabrian ridge: here too old erosion surfaces alternate with pythons isolated from deep throats, attesting to a lively rejuvenation of erosive cycles. Simpler, but only in appearance, the detected margin that closes the meseta from N.: the long flight of mountains that blocks this access to the Atlantic reveals great diversity of structure and shapes as one proceeds from the Basque depression towards the galaic massif. In essence, however, the current survey shows evident the effects of the overlapping of the Alpine orogeny on a region in which the long wear and tear of subaerial denudation, despite having reached a stage of late maturity on the whole, had not yet succeeded in obliterating the reasons fundamentals of its tectonics. Furthermore, a whole series of postpliocene movements brought the old peneplanate surfaces back to different levels: what is clearly visible above all on the coast (Rasa, Ribamontana la mar), where the coastal platform, raised, was again engraved and finely sculpted by erosion. Remarkable is the relative constancy of this mountainous barrier, which, although slightly exceeding 2000 m. (2642 m. In the Peñas de Europa), can only be affected by a few steps, and all of them quite high (1800-1300 m.). The Cantabrians are also typically asymmetrical, presenting the steeper side to the coast: hence the extent of the denudation on this side, and the narrowness of the coastal selvedge, widening as one proceeds towards the West, where the axis of the system tends to move away from the shore.

The relief in the NW corner takes on a completely different character. of the peninsula, where the powerful schistose-crystalline series, injected with granite and other ancient eruptive rocks, appears as a large penepiano engraved by large valley showers. The core of the region seems to be the Cabeza de Manzaneda (1778 m.), From which radiate chains with bare and rounded tops (from 1000 to 900 m. In central Galicia, sloping down to less than 900 towards NW); along the Atlantic the flat ends of the river furrows, invaded by the recent level fluctuations, by the sea waters, have given rise to the typical rías, which continue up to the Portuguese border.

Besides the Ebro pit, the isthmus which identifies the peninsula by the European landmass, is occupied entirely by the Pyrenean system (v. Pyrenees), of which the southern side, which belongs to Spain, occupies approximately two thirds of the area. In this, the central Crystalline nucleus, on which the maximum peaks rise (some higher than 3000 m.) And runs, in general, the political border with France, is flanked by several bundles of parallel reliefs that from the Basque depression they continue, through Aragon and Catalonia, up to Ampurdano. Characteristic of the Spanish side is the development of the longitudinal valleys (Aragón, Nogueras, Segre), which carve, going down to the Ebro, these pre-Pyrenean alignments, distinguished in several series of steps by parallel faults. Communications through the compact wall are not easy: the passes open relatively sparse and high (Roncesvalles 1057 m., Somport 1640, Portalet 1758, Puymorens 1931, La Perche 1565; recent is the opening of the Port de La Bonaigue, 2072 m. on the road from Toulouse to Lérida), except at the two ends of the chain, where it gets depressed. The subdivision into small basins, more separate than united by the gorges with which the watercourses reach them, is aggravated by the intense denudation, the robberies of which accumulate downstream, in the arid alluvial expanses that fringe the Ebro shower (Bárdenas, Monegros).

According to CANCERMATTERS.NET, the latter must, before flowing into the Mediterranean, open its way into a double mountainous obstacle, which it crosses with an epigenetic gorge: the so-called Catalan chain, which finds in the Maestrazgo the suture area with the eastern edge of the plateau. It is a series of reliefs that rise on average just over 500-600 m. and they are distributed in two alignments almost parallel to the coast and separated by a median depression: a fragment, as seems probable, of a more extensive continental mass, sunk and partially re-emerged in recent times. Its crystalline-paleozoic core is covered here and there with Mesozoic and Eocene depositions, which erosion has however largely removed. Of the two alignments, the higher is the interior (1747 m in the Montseny block).

Just as the Iberian system faces, beyond the Aragonese syncline, the Pyrenean mountain range, so the northern edge of the Andalusian trench is marked by the reliefs included under the name of Sierra Morena, that is, as already mentioned, by the edge of the plateau itself, undulating and fragmented for effect of the paleogenic thrusts from Spain made for its eastern end, which welds it to the prebetic ridges in the harsh znna NW. of the province of Jaén.

Even more important for its geographical consequences is the central cordillera, which from the Sierra de Guadarrama to those of Gredos and de Gata continues (approximately 800 km) in Portuguese territory: on the common crystalline base of the plateau the masses of ancient rocks (granite and gneiss above all, covered on both sides by Cenozoic and recent depositions), which the Alpine orogeny ended up arching, are now isolated in separate groups and usually arranged as wings. The forms typical of the high mountains are rare: recent erosion has canceled those that the Quaternary glaciers had carved there. The steps are relatively easy, and yet the dividing function between the two compartments of the meseta is clear, has exercised this long barrier, which on the other hand extends in several places over 2000 m. (2592 in the Plaza de Almanzór), and is therefore clearly uneven on those.

In summary, the highest heights of Spain are aligned on its margins, but the plateau, which is itself high on an average of 750-800 m. to N. and 600-650 to Spain of the median cordillera, it is constituted on a large surface by erosion platforms oscillating between 800 and 1200 m. On the other hand, areas below 500 m. they are reduced to just over a third of the total area (about 40% in the peninsula) and are also concentrated above all in the marginal regions: the Ebro trench and the lower Guadalquivir basin.

Spain Relief