File image. Ñito Salas
Pioneering study determines the risk of landslides at Malaga's famous Caminito del Rey gorge walk
Health and safety

Pioneering study determines the risk of landslides at Malaga's famous Caminito del Rey gorge walk

The province's main tourist hot spot receives more than 370,000 visitors from all over the world every year

Alba Tenza


Wednesday, 10 July 2024, 20:52

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A few months ago, it was declared the first hiking trail in Spain to be accredited as a cardio-safe area by the Andalusian health service when it was announced that it would be equipped with defibrillators along its route and, this Tuesday, it has taken a further step forward in its safety. It has done so with the presentation of a pioneering study that will determine the risk of landslides at one of Malaga province's top tourist attractions: the Caminito del Rey gorge walk.

The Universities of Granada and Jaén and the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain-CSIC presented their findings on Tuesday 9 July at the provincial authority of Malaga, the organisation that leads the project along with the Caminito del Rey Joint Venture - to increase safety.

There have previously been landslides, such as the one that happened in 2022 in the northern part of the area due to heavy rains - this led to the temporary closure of the area until it was repaired.

"A three-dimensional map has been made in which the whole geological physiognomy of El Caminito del Rey has been collected, and a diagnosis of the possible risks of landslides has been identified in order to be able to act on those points with specific measures to minimise the risk," said provincial council president Francisco Salado. The new digital model members of the project have created in less than a year will show what possible landslides could look like, what the different stones could be, as well as how the fall could occur and when rocks can come loose.

"This study puts us on par with a select group of internationally renowned studies, such as those carried out in Yosemite National Park in the United States," Salado said.

Francisco Salado, Roberto Sarro, José Luis Pérez, Jorge Pedro Galve, Francisco Vázquez and other members of the project during their presentation. Alba Tenza

Jorge Pedro Galve, from the University of Granada, pointed out that once the conclusions have been drawn, the next step is to meet with those responsible for the path to see what requirements are needed for the installation of protections and other safety measures. "This is the first step in risk management - knowing that there have been landslides, we can now identify them and know where they are most likely to occur," he added.

Technological innovation

The results of the study are based on the creation of a high-resolution three-dimensional model - an unprecedented challenge to date due to the wide extension of the area investigated -, the collection, processing and elaboration of high-quality geological information, driven by outstanding levels of technological innovation, which has allowed a deep knowledge of the environment to be achieved; and the implementation of specific adaptations of the most advanced technology in landslide simulation in the world.

The 3D model has not only facilitated the research, but also led to the identification of an accurate georeferencing of all the points of the Caminito del Rey, improving the geological mapping and ground covers of the area. This has resulted in a Landslide Susceptibility Model being developed which provides so-called landslide susceptibility maps, pointing out landslide source areas and potentially unstable areas.

Salado said this is an "extremely valuable" tool as it lays the foundations to further increase the safety of the area, which receives more than 370,000 visitors from all over the world every year.

The project has involved the participation of seven different national and international entities, twelve specialists, a total of 1,600 hours of office work and an analysis of an area of two square kilometres and 3,200 metres of route.

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