The Geology of Barcelona: An urban excursion guide


Geologists’ Association Guide No 70

By Wes Gibbons and Teresa Moreno

The Geologists’ Association is making something of a name for itself when it comes to pushing the envelope in geological publishing in the UK. It has already produced a number of guides to the geology of non-UK locations and I have reviewed a new guide to the roadside geology of Wales (Guide No 69). In itself, that was quite a departure, but so is the book under review – a guide to the ‘urban geology’ of Barcelona.

Admittedly, the GA has already published a guide to the geology of London (Guide No 68), but that was not really an ‘urban’ guide like the present one. Indeed, that guide made good of use the city’s many open spaces and the River Thames for its locations, whereas this guide (The Geology of Barcelona) definitely covers the streets. In addition, the Spanish city probably has more interesting geology than most cities.

The authors are both professional geologists, and Teresa was born and educated in Spain (although, she did her PhD at Cardiff). The geology they describe has Barcelona sitting on the flanks of the Catalan Coastal Ranges. This is an Iberian, intraplate mountain belt, separating the Valencia Trough from the Ebros foreland basin, which itself borders on the Pyrenees to the north.

Therefore, the pre-Variscan basement is well exposed, but most of the geology and geomorphology date from the Palaeogene and Neogene (and is, therefore, ‘Alpine’). As for the rocks, these are mostly granodiorites, metasediments and more recent sedimentary rocks.

For these reasons, it is not surprising that the city is so geologically interesting – and it is surely no surprise that geology plays a part in making any great city ‘great’. The book describes three separate geology trips in this beautiful city, which can all be done on Spanish public transport.

Like all recent GA guides, it is well written and magnificently illustrated in full colour throughout. As always, my only criticism is the ring-binding used. However, notwithstanding this, if I am ever in Barcelona, I may well have a copy of this little book under my arm.

The Geology of Barcelona: An urban excursion guide, Guide No. 70, by Wes Gibbons and Teresa Moreno, The Geologists’ Association, London (2012), 72 page (paperback), ISBN: 978-09-00717-56-7

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