Fuente del Gorgotón

Ojo de Satán - Fuente Negra

Useful Information

Location: Almadenes.
From Cieza RM-532 towards Mula/Caravaca, after 3.2 km turn right signposted "Embalse del Quipar" or Central Eléctrica de Almadenes. After 6.8 km turn right to Almadenes, 3 km. Parking 100 m after the Visitor Center, 280 m walk, 21 m descent, 10 minutes.
(38.238886, -1.556799)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring KarstEstavelle
Light: n/a
Dimension: A=198 m asl, Y=750 l/s (66,000 m³/day).
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: ():
Identificación y caracterización de la interrelación que se presenta entre aguas subterráneas, cursos fluviales, descargas por manantiales, zonas húmedas y otros ecosistemas naturales de especial interés hídrico,
Encomienda De Gestión Para La Realización De Trabajos Científico-técnicos De Apoyo A La Sostenibilidad Y Protección De Las Aguas Subterráneas. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME). pdf
Address: Fuente del Gorgotón
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Fuente del Gorgotón (Gorgon Fountain) is located only 100 m upstream from the Centro de Interpretación de Almadenes visitor center. There is a small parking lot at the road and a trail down to the river, across a footbridge and along the Rio Segura to a spring which is actually located next to the Segura riverbed. The spring is a karst spring, the water is from the Calasparra syncline aquifer. The Calasparra syncline aquifer has a size of 320 km² andt extends between the municipalities of Cieza, Calasparra and Jumilla. The water deep below in the lowest parts of the syncline is heated by the volcanic heat from below. The water is dissolving limestone forming caves from below, so-called hypogene caves. The spring is such a water-filled cave which was opened to the surface by the erosion of the river. As a result the groundwater flows out from the aquifer into the river. The spring is the drainage of the aquifer, it is actually the only known upwelling of the aquifer.

The exceptional feature of this spring is the temperature of the mineral rich water. The transparent and warm water forms a small pool of crystalline water, the Fuente del Borbotón (gush fountain) or Fuente del Gorgotón (gurgle fountain). Connected to the river, it is possible to swim from the river into the spring and back. The local youths say that bathing at night in this natural bath has become a sort of modern rite of passage or initiation rite. The Arabs called the spring Ojo de Satán (Eye of Satan). The spring with its clear blueish water really resembles a huge eye with fleshy eylids. It was also known as Fuente Negra (Black Fountain) despite its clear waters Fish are hiding in the cracks between the rocks.

The wood that flows down this river to the city of Murcia and below passes through this gorge. At the end of the gorge is the Fuente Negra. It is a fountain that springs in the middle of the river, sending its water through the air at a height of approximately one fathom. The water of this fountain springs from the riverbed itself, and is a black, sulphurous water, bitter to the palate. It is said that this water comes from the spring that was blocked by the Christians at Madinat Iyya (Minateda). This city was one of those in which Teodomiro, king of the Christians, made a pact with Musà ben Nusayr when the latter conquered al-Andalus. The aforementioned fountain was located in that city and irrigated the entire plain. It was blocked by the Christians and sprang up here. Between the two places, there are about 12 parasangas.
Ibn Abd Allah Muhammad d. Bark al-Zuhrî (1154): Kitab Al-Dja rafia

The spring emerges from a deep cave system, but the cave is not accessible because the entrance is too narrow and filled with blocks. What makes the spring quite exceptional from the hydrological view ist the equilibrium between discharge and recharge. The rio Segura flows for 12 km across the aquifer, and the water of the river constantly seeps through permeable rocks into the aquifer. But here, after the gorge, the river is at a lower level than the aquifer, and now the aquifer discharges into the river. The amount of water which filters from the river into the aquifer is compensated by the same amount which flows out of the aquifer through the Gorgoton. This makes the spring a unique geotope.

Since the mid 20th century the spring is heavily influenced by the massive human use of water for irrigation. The region is famous for its vegetable farming, producing vegetables for a huge part of Europe, but this works only with artificial watering due to the semi arid climate. In the 1960s the Trasvase Tajo-Segura (Tajo-Segura channel) was built, the biggest irrigation project in Spain. The discharges from the channel and the Cenajo River caused a rise of the Segura river and so the spring was submerged for a good part of the year. In the 1990s a large number of drought wells was installed in the Calasparra Syncline, pumping the irrigation water from the aquifer. Unfortunately this was based on wrong numbers, the aquifer was estimated to contain 3,000 hm³ to 5,000 hm³, but actually the reservoir capacity is 1,141 hm³ according to the newest researches. The result is obvious, the pumping massively lowered the water table in the aquifer, the Gorgotón became dry.

And that's not the end, the well has become a sink and the water of the Segura river flows into the well. Such objects, which are springs part of the year and sinks at other times, are called estavelles. The water of the river is full of sediments, in layman's terms muddy. The problem is now that the silt, clay and sand could block the well by filling the cracks in the gravel bed. Quite ironic is the fact that the loss of river water in the Segura river is a problem for the irrigation. It is compensated by increased pumping from the aquifer with the consequence of extra energy expenditure. So actually, they pump the water they lost because they pumped water. It seems they do not understand this quite simple mechanism, and have the Chuzpe to ask for financial help due to the increased cost.