Geopark Coast of Death

For someone outside of Galicia, the name "Costa da Morte", has something sinister that is even more surprising when it is known that the Costa da Morte corresponds to the liveliest and youngest part of the Galician coast. Speaking of young or old in Geology always brings surprises because the rocks of the Costa da Morte, mainly granite, have an antiquity of about 305 million years. But the novelty is not only in the age but also in that the rocks of the Coast of Death were the first that were formed in the physical space of what today is called Galicia. The Geology of Galicia according to the simple, and at the same time superb, synthesis of Isidro Parga Pondal is summarized in two types of rock: granite and slate. The two types of rock are now together but formed in a different place and on a different date. The slate was formed from marine sediments accumulated in the bottom of distant seas and then the plate tectonics was brushed, as a cabinetmaker prepares a piece of wood, advancing at a speed of 20 millimeters a year; And the sediment shavings were trapped between two large continental masses: Gondwana and Laurrusia, which at the time gave rise to Pangea, the largest continent that has ever existed on Earth to this day. It was in that huge collision nothing violent, very dilated in time, it took more than 150 million years to occur, when the granite formed. Gondwana subducted, submerged, below Laurrusia and the enormous temperatures and pressures generated produced the fusion of part of the plate that generated magmas that in the surface of the Earth gave rise to island arches (like the archipelago of Japan) each one with its corresponding row of volcanoes. Then it was 100 million years of erosion that destroyed the volcanoes, sweeping them to their roots and exposing the surface: it is what we see today as the granites of Costa da Morte. 200 million years ago the megacontinent Pangea began to break, and its fragments to be separated, and the consequence was the definition of the present coastline of Galicia. It was then when the Costa da Morte was defined. A fierce front of rocky fortresses from Monte Louro, O Pindo, Fisterra, Cabo da Buítra, Cabo Vilán, Traba, Punta Roncudo, Illas Sisargas, Cabo Prior and Prioriño. All of them form the last view that we have from the sea when you leave Galicia and are also the first sight we have when comeback home.

And even if that's just why it should be called the Costa da Vida because geographically it is the front that carries Galicia to the tremendous storms that for thousands of years and especially during the winter, supports Galicia. And it is true that these events have been resolved with a long story of tragedies with the sacrifice of human lives, huge economic losses and ecological disasters. But these attacks provoked by the sea have been erroneously explained, as if Galicia, the fortress besieged by the enemy army, the waves of the sea, understood as defeats instead of triumphs. The Costa da Morte is the first line that Galicia opposes to the attacks of the sea and everything that it pushes towards the continent. These are the Serpent, the toxic fumes of the Cason, the Prestige oil, and ultimately the Ukrainian barge Prima. And after all these attacks made by the waves and the winds against Galicia their enemies have been defeated and they ended up buried in the sandy bottoms constituting the archaeological heritage submarine that marks the triumphs of Galicia that has always been triumphant of the onslaughts of the waves and of everything that came with them. But my vision as a geologist of the Costa da Morte is a little different when, looking out to sea from the rocky lighthouses of the Costa da Morte, I have the fortune to be able to revive in my imagination the moment when the lands of Canada and North America, now far, on the other side of the ocean, fled on that long journey of thousands of miles that began 200 million years ago. The great Galician rías located to the north and south of the Costa da Morte were formed when Pangea, the great supercontinent that reunited all the earths of the World, is broken. It was then that the Costa da Morte went from being a land without nuances located in the interior of the great supercontinent to become the beautiful country today, at the edge of the sea and that is preserved intact as it has not been affected by the erosion of the Galician rivers nor by the merciless attack of the sea. The Costa da Morte with its strong stone soul (the granite) is the most intact representation of the first face of Galicia after the breakage of Pangea 200 million years ago.

Juan Ramón Vidal Romani
Vice-president Geopark Coast of Death

Translation in: Galego - Español