Geology of the Caribbean Islands

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Professor Radcliffe
Geology 1 Lab Report
December 10, 2012
Geology of the Caribbean Islands

Have you ever wondered how the famous tropical land masses located in Central America, known as the Caribbean Islands, came to existence? Well geologists have dated some of the rocks in the islands such as, Cuba and Trinidad, as far back as the Jurassic time period. This means the rocks formed about 145-200 million years ago, therefore the eldest islands from the Caribbean date way back to the time of dinosaurs. European countries such as Spain, France and England founded the islands approximately 500 years ago, and basically stole the lands from the original inhabitants. The islands were exploited for valuable resources such as lumber, precious minerals, and commodities like crude oil and copper. By definition geology is the study of the earth’s physical structure, substance, and it history, but we will be focusing on the geological features of solely the Caribbean. There exist about 100 permanently inhabited islands in the Caribbean with the most famous and main ones being St. Martin, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Barbados, and the Bahamas. The population of these islands is estimated to be around 45 million people. There are also 50 or so islets, which are purely composed of rock and cooled down volcanic eruption fragments. These islands however are not inhabited due to poor soil quality and most of them being too small to capacitate houses and buildings. According to Javier Viruete, “island arcs develop because of subduction of oceanic lithosphere beneath another oceanic plate…aqueous fluids and/or hydrous melts released from the subducting slab and their reaction with the overlying mantel wedge provide the prime control on arc magma genesis.” Basically this explains the formation of the islands as being caused by tectonic plates colliding against each other and releasing molten rock masses from the...
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