Fossilised remains of sea creatures are commonly found in rocks in the mountains of the Basque Country. So, at some time in the past, Euskal Herria was under the sea. For example, during the Palaeocene period, some 65-55 million years ago. The region was then subtropical, and similar in appearance to the Australian Coral Reef.
Along the Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa coast, around Eibar, in Irati and in Urbasa, for example, we can see Palaeocene outcrops at the surface. During that period there were collisions between the European and Iberian tectonic plates which pushed up earth mass that lay under the sea. These very collisions gave rise to the Pyrenees.
These Palaeocene rock outcrops are not at all common on the rest of the planet and, thus, in order to ascertain what happened during that period, researchers have an invaluable source of information in the Basque Country. Moreover, the area has another advantage: remains occur both of the sea crust and of the continental platform and its edge, given that the town of Zumaia at that time was submerged 1,000 metres below the sea while the Rioja Alavesa was above surface.
Garazi Andonegi | Basque research
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