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           Over 650 species of plants,

           including 30 varieties of orchid,

           have been recorded on Torcal.


        For 65 million years, the African   rocks and clays have been eroded
        tectonic plate has been creeping in   leaving limestone protrusions rising
        an easterly direction at the rate of   from the surrounding land. These are
        between 27 and 30 millimetres per   pronounced in the area of
        year. The northern edge of the plate   Antequera, itself at over 500 metres
        scrapes against the European plate,   altitude, and one protrusion, El
        and the much smaller Alboran plate   Torcal, is now a nature reserve.
        wedged between them. Periodically   Wind and rain acting on the
        the earth moves for all the        limestone massif of El Torcal de
        inhabitants of south-west Spain as   Antequera have eroded the rock.
        the tension caused by this scraping   The erosion started with rainwater
        is released. On the 16th April 2018,   trickling down cracks in the rock,
        there were an incredible fourteen   dissolving the limestone and
        recorded earthquakes in Granada    eventually producing a limestone
        province in just three hours. Most   pavement and then limestone
        tremors are unfelt and go unnoticed,   buttresses. Meanwhile, softer
        the last to cause any structural   limestone and clays were washed
        damage was in 2011 in Murcia.      out from between the buttresses.
        During the last 18 million years, the   Once exposed to the wind, the
        compression of the landscape       buttresses started to erode from
        caused by the tectonic plate       their vertical sides inwards. Some of
        movements has resulted in a more   the strata laid down over those
        visible monument, the Baetic       millions of years are softer than
        Cordillera, a mountain range that   others, and because the layers are
        stretches from Cádiz to Valencia.   still horizontal, the rock has eroded
        Part of the Baetic was formerly on   in bands producing the weird and
        the seabed, thousands of metres of   wonderful shapes we see today.
        limestone laid down over millions of   Much of the landscape is
        years. This limestone was raised   inaccessible on foot unless you
        bodily and horizontally with the rest   happen to be a mountain goat. El
        of the area. Over the millennia since   Torcal is one of the few places left on
        it emerged the surrounding softer   the Iberian Peninsula where you will
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