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Introduction

The "Atles geològic de Catalunya" brings together knowledge about the geological constitution of the territory to society

The inorganic world, the geosphere, is the physical support of the world of life on Earth, the biosphere. The geosphere provides the substrate and the necessary resources (water, rocks and minerals) for the development of life on our planet. Man as a rational being has the ability to know his position in nature, the Earth also gives him immediate pleasure in the perception of his features and the possibility of learning about the planet's past and the origins of life.


The Geological Atlas of Catalonia is a project carried out by the Institut Geològic de Catalunya (IGC) and the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya (ICC) with the aim of bringing knowledge of the geological constitution of the territory to the society. The objective is to improve the citizens’ perception of Catalan geology, to place within their reach a new tool which will facilitate the comprehension of the geological features and the succession of processes which have lead to the present configuration of the Catalan territory. the cartography of the Geological Talas of Catalonia has been elaborated with the collaboration of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning and Sustainability of the Catalonia government and the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España.

The extraordinary orographic diversity of Catalonia, visible over the terrain in the form of contrasted reliefs and diverse landscapes, also has its equivalent from the geological point of view. Indeed, Catalonia is a privileged country from this point of view, given the representative outcrops of rocks or those resulting from the geological processes over the last 550 million years. This geo-diversity allows us to travel through the geological times in a relatively reduced territorial space.


This work has the objective of presenting the Geological Map of Catalonia on a scale of 1:50 000 with the format and content structure similar to those of a conventional atlas; as in these the map is accompanied by a series of pages with additional information that facilitates the consultation and the understanding of the collection. The idea is that it becomes not only an office consultation work, but also an agreeable book for glancing through with, simple explanations in spite of the diversity and the difficulty of some of the subjects it deals with.


In any topographic map or conventional geographic atlas, most of the elements represented are easy for the user to identify. This is not so with geological maps, where objects (rocks, structures, non-consolidated deposits, etc.) which are difficult, for the non-specialized reader, to recognise on the spot. To this complexity we must add the geological time factor. For this reason, the Geological Atlas of Catalonia incorporates a relatively extensive introduction of the geological content, the aim of which is to facilitate the understanding of the collection, without pretending, whatsoever, to be a geology handbook. Its approach proposes innovative ingredients in the way of presenting and transmitting the geological knowledge of the territory, it gives an understandable summary of the geology of Catalonia, in which the history of its formation and its evolution are explained, with emphasis on its special geological features.

  • The Geological Atlas of Catalonia at a scale of 1:50 000 has been structured in two clearly defined parts: the first part, introductory and of a strictly geological nature, and the second, with the geological map 1:50 000, its key and the methodology in the formation of the collection of the Geological Database of Catalonia, from which derives the Geological Map, and which constitutes the nucleus of the work.
  • To facilitate the reading of the cartographic units description, all the geological terms (or those with a concrete meaning in geology) which appear in the keys have been compiled, and a vocabulary has been expressly built up for this work; it consists of almost 600 words and expressions. It has been included as an appendix to the keys in order to facilitate the consultation of the non-specialized user. Some common guidelines have been established for the wording of the definitions of each thematic group of words, in such a way that all the rocks, minerals, components of the sediments, fossil remains, etc. are described following the same structure and the same criteria. The terminology employed in these definitions is attainable for any interested reader.
  • A brief etymology of all the words that identify the geochronological units which appear in the Geological Time Table is also included. In the case of the names of geological times, it is given the word from which it is derived and the language to which it belongs. When the word is of Greek-Latin origin, its way of formation and the words from which it is derived and their meanings are identified. If the word is derived from a toponym, normally that of the place where the period was first studied and defined, the place name in question is briefly identified and located. There are in total more than 150 terms. This work was carried out in order to translate into Catalan the Geological Time Table in force and it is one of the curiosities that the readers will surely appreciate.
  • The atlas closes with a complete toponym index which allows a search for the main place names in Catalonia and also from neighbouring regions. This index counts on close to 12 000 entries and contemplates municipalities, population nuclei, summits, mountain ranges and massifs and other orographic elements. Also included are the names of installations of an anthropic nature which facilitate the orientation and the positioning over the land (airports, ski runs...). The place names of the index can be found in the maps that make up the main part of the work, where they are shade-marked with the objective of facilitating the geological reading.