Island Musings

Earth Tones

October 10 2011

Barbados – A different Island



The tiny island of Barbados rose gradually and grudgingly from the ocean over a period of about one million years. Its formation, at the junction of overlap of the Caribbean and Atlantic tectonic plates, started hundreds of kilometers below the ocean surface.

According to professor of geology Hans G Machel, in his publication, ‘Geology of Barbados -1999’, the pressure crea
ted by the two plates moving toward each other, caused the ocean floor to buckle upward.
This upward push cotinued slowly until, in one quite sudden earthquake, the area that is now called the Scotland District, emerged from the ocean.
Visual evidence of the buckling of sediment layers can be seen in a drive along the island’s east coast road, between Barclays Park and Belleplaine.
The upward movement of the rest of the island followed during the next 500,000 years, forming two major limestone terraces in the process.
During this period of uplift, seismic activity along the edge of the Atlantic plate west of Barbados, allowed magma to escape to the surface in a volcanic eruption, forming the island of St Vincent. The other islands in the Windward chain were formed in the same way, leaving Barbados as a unique and different landform, and the only ‘Caribbean island’ in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Scotland District occupies 1/7th of Barbados total land area and its rugged beauty is unique among the islands of the Caribbean. Much of the exposed rock formation in this area is a combination of shale, clay and sandstone and offers visually striking photographic imagery, presented here as ‘Earth Tones’.
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