Piedras Verdes de Andalucia

June 4, 2013

We sat in the Doblo in front of an endless pile of green gravel, deciding on our next move. A sign in front of the quarry had a variety of warnings, precautions, rules and regulations, symbols, etc. We sat looking at our Spanish dictionaries to double-check if any of these words meant we couldn’t go into the quarry, when a white pickup truck pulled up in front of us. The door opened, and out came a man in a blue jumpsuit with green reflective tape to mark his appendages.

We had a quick conversation with him, struggling to understand the Spanish through his thick Andalucian accent. But, as soon as we told him that we were geologos, his face lit up, “ahhh las piedras!”. He instructed us to follow him into the quarry, so we did.

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Another day at the office: the view from the quarry.

He took us on a road that weaved through mostly abandoned heavy machinery to a large pile of rocks. To him, was just a piece of his workplace, but to us, was an opportunity to continue the search for the metamorphosed pillow lavas that we had been searching for over the past few hours. After a few minutes of poking around, the man told us we were free to roam around the quarry as we pleased, “sin problema”!

We drove around the large scar on the hillside, inspecting each outcrop with no success. We were high on a terrace overlooking the quarry when we saw a blue SUV with lights on top and a “policia” emblem on its side cruising on the dirt track towards us. We decided we should scramble back down the hill to the Doblo, where he was inevitably going to arrive.

When another man in a blue jumpsuit got out, we relaxed. “Hola,” he called out as he approached us with a smile. He introduced himself as Juan Pedro in a thick Andalucian accent. Such an accent tends to lack the use of consonants and is difficult to understand for this reason.

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A sign directing us to the town of Guadix. The missing letters tell of the Andalucian accent — Juan Pedro pronounced Guadix as “wah-dee”.

We had a strained conversation in Spanish, but eventually I told him we were looking for the green rocks – las piedras verdes. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves following Juan Pedro’s dilapidated patrol car down the dirt track to another outcrop, this one a bit higher up in the quarry.

He left us soon after we began looking at the rocks, but not before securing the web address for the UT geology department from us. I forgot to give him the blog address though!

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We scoured this extensive boulder garden looking for signs of metamorphosed pillow lavas. We did not find any!

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But we found a fracture filled with amphibole and epidote crystals!

After all the searching, the mystery of the eclogite pillow lavas remains unsolved. We returned to Guadix for the night and prepared to hike up into the Sierra Nevada to find eclogites for my field work the next morning.

June 5, 2013

Fortunately, we found many piedras verdes in the Sierra Nevada the next day, in my field area:

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This one gets to come back to the US!

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We hiked up into the Sierra Nevada from the north side of the range, closest to the town of Lugros, pronounced ‘oo-gro” in the gruff Andalucian accent of the old man who gave us directions there. It’s the type of town that is populated by a small handful of senior citizens – old men in golf caps who stare you down when you drive through the town square as they lean on wooden canes. I’m hoping to capture this phenomenon on camera eventually, but so far I have gotten the feeling that it would be impolite to take a photo of them.

We had a later start up into the mountains than anticipated due to an excursion (meant to be a shortcut) into the Barrio de las Cuevas, a neighborhood whose homes are built into the sides of the cliffs formed by Guadix basin sedimentary rocks.

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Flowers on the way up.

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Cortijo del Camarate.

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Abandoned cortijo.

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Cattle country…

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We followed a trail along an aqueduct that delivers water to the many pastures below.

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Iron staining makes cool swirling patterns on a crenulated surface.

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Science is happening!

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Around 5pm, we got rained on. Pico de Veleta plus rain. Maybe it will melt some snow off the rocks.

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This was formerly a double rainbow, but I was too slow to catch it in the act.

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Post-rain sun and flowers.

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Heading home for the day.

Hasta luego, or as the Andalucians say, ‘uego!

[Posting from Capileira, Andalucia]

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3 responses to “Piedras Verdes de Andalucia

  1. Que un aventura fabuloso! Las flores anarillas son hermosas. Que te vaya bien!
    Cindy la botanista

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