Peñon de Ilfach: Did it jump or was it pushed?

Mark Wilkinson (UK) The Spanish coastal town of Calpe is dominated by the towering massif of the Peñon de Ilfach (Fig. 1). The 332m, steep-sided summit is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on three sides and connected to the land by a relatively narrow neck, rather like a gigantic sea stack. Unless you are prepared to do some serious rock climbing, the summit is accessible only through a tunnel bored for the purpose, complete with rope hand-rails. The half-hour walk to the summit, through a small nature reserve and visitors centre, gives fantastic views of the surrounding coast and mountains. Fig. 1. The Peñon de Ilfach with Calpe in the foreground. Tower blocks for scale. To the geologically minded, the Peñon offers another aspect. It gleams white in the Mediterranean sunshine, so it’s not too difficult to guess that it is made of limestone. But bedding is quite tricky to spot, especially from a distance. I’ve often wondered as to how such an isolated feature came to be there – and why is the bedding so hard to see? It was almost a relief to purchase the Geologists Association guide to the area and discover that “even experienced geologists may find the bedding hard to locate”. Phew, it’s not just me then! And how did the Peñon come to be so isolated from the other limestone hills in the area, the nearest of which is several kilometres away? Was there a massive sheet of limestone, which has simply been eroded … Read More

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