The island of Guadaloupe contains some of the most amazing stones in the Caribbean.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Guadaloupe.
Types of Rocks Found on Guadaloupe: A Guide to the 6 Most Common You’ll Spot
The more than 12 islands that make up Guadaloupe are studied heavily by geologists from around the world. These islands were formed by the pushing up of the Caribbean plate by the Atlantic plate.
The geological action that formed these islands is unique in the Lesser Antilles. The rocks found on Guadaloupe are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary rocks from deep in the Earth.
Guadaloupe does contain an active volcano, La Grande Soufriere. It is the highest peak in the Lesser Antilles. This is the only remaining active volcano on Guadeloupe and the most recent eruption was in 1976.
La Desireade is a large National Geological reserve that is located in the island group that makes up Guadaloupe. La Desireade contains stones that are often turned into jewelry and souvenirs.
Limestone is a light colored fine grained relatively soft stone that is plentiful on Guadaloupe. The limestone is formed from the remains of sea creatures that live around the island in the warm water.
Limestone that is on and around Guadeloupe is reef limestone that formed from the remains of coral.
Coral reefs are very important on the island and the reefs around Pigeon Island are currently being studied by the French Government and there is a pilot program to grow artificial reef as part of the conservation efforts.
The limestone on Guadeloupe is interspersed with some of the oldest rock that is exposed on Earth, the limestone is squeezed between some of the rocks.
Most islands in the Lesser Antilles are formed when limestone is pushed up by volcanic rock from the ocean floor.
Guadeloupe is different because it is formed by the movement of two plates. The Atlantic plate is pushing up the Caribbean plate.
This makes the layering of limestone and volcanic rock very different on Guadeloupe.
One rock that is very interesting to scientists on Guadeloupe is Red Chert. The red chert dates to the Jurrasic era and there are very few samples that old that have been found on Earth.
The red color of the chert found on Guadeloupe is a result of iron in the stone.
Chert is a fine grained sedimentary rock. It is observed in the very large massifs on Basse-Terre. Massifs found here are large sections of the Earth’s crust that have been pushed up, but remain structurally intact.
It is hard to explain the importance of the red chert on Guadeloupe. You can find an interesting formation of red chert surrounded by pillow lava in the linked image.
These formations give a lot of insight into the formation of Guadeloupe. The red chert is very very old and the pillow lava formed around it as it was pushed up from the ocean floor.
Pillow lavas are formations of lava that have a pillow shape from being extruded underwater and the trapped gasses lifting the lava to the surface. This action gives the pillow lava it’s round shape.
Pillow lavas look like cobbled rocks joined together. As more and more pillow lavas form then join together and form a large formation of pillow lavas.
Pillow lavas are formed by various types of lava containing a variety of minerals. They may be made of basalt, andesite or even rhyolite. The defining characteristic is the pillow shape.
Pillow lava can be seen on the La Desirade in the geological reserve mixed with a red chert in a very cool formation.
Quartz crystals form hexagonal crystals.
Quartz can come in any color from clear transparent to black, while the most sought after on Guadeloupe are the blue to green colors.
You may find quartz in transparent or opaque varieties with a waxy luster. Quartz samples should be cleaned carefully from dirt and polished to create a more glasslike shine.
You may find quartz in the mountainous regions or in the souvenir shops as it is a popular stone for use in jewelry and souvenirs.
Local rocks are used in many products that are marketed to tourists, so ask around to find a reputable seller of local stones.
There is a lapidary on Le Desirade where local rocks are polished, cut and fitted into jewelry.
Amethyst is a purple variation of quartz and it is often found on the island. This is a very well known stone and has a hardness of 7 in pure varieties and varies in its purple hue.
Amethyst has been found in burial sites on the island as it was carved into beautiful beads by the earliest inhabitants of Guadeloupe.
While some rock hunters have luck finding amethyst in the wild, your best bet is to purchase jewelry or local stones in the geological area of Guadeloupe.
Some believe that amethyst protects the wearer from drunkenness, so it could be a great piece of vacation jewelry.
This white to light green stone is fairly rare, but can be found on Guadeloupe. Sudoite has a pearly luster and a hardness of 2-2.5. It is very soft and can easily be scratched with a knife.
Sudoite breaks smoothly into sheets like micah and has a similar appearance except it is very light in color.
This stone is associated with sandstone and can be found close to coastlines on Guadeloupe.
Rocks on Guadaloupe
Guadelupe is a very heavily studied area for geologists. The island of La Desireade contains a large geological reserve where geologists are studying the exposed layers of the Caribbean plate.
77% of the islands of Guadeloupe are covered in natural reserves making it a great destination for ecotourism.
There are regular conservation days where the inhabitants of the island spend time cleaning the sea beds and learn more about the conservation efforts of the island.
Collecting rocks in this geological reserve is not allowed, but tourist shops have rocks and stones available for purchase.
Be sure to obey any posted signs and local laws regarding exploring and collecting rocks on Guadeloupe, and declare anything you collect to customs.
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