Cuba contains some of the most amazing stones in Central America and Caribbean travel hot spots.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Cuba.
Types of Rocks Found in Cuba: A Guide
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Cuba is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles, but the geology of the island is very different from other islands in the area.
Cuba contains rocks from a different time period, the Jurassic era, than the surrounding area due to the tectonic activity in the area. In Cuba you can find rocks from the entire rock cycle relatively close together. Basalt, limestone, schist and gemstones are all present in Cuba.
The current understanding of the geology of Cuba indicates that Cuba collided with the Florida-Bahama platform creating faults and folds in the rocks.
The political situation in Cuba has made geological research difficult for international scientists, but more recently there have been more opportunities for international scientists to work in Cuba.
As the name suggests, Cubanite was first identified in Cuba in the 1840s. It contains iron and copper and has a gray brown appearance.
Cubanite is relatively soft with a hardness score between 3 and 4 and often occurs in areas of thermal activity like fermeroles.
It was first found in the Holguin Province in Cuba along the Mayari-Baracoa Belt in eastern Cuba.
It has an orthorhombic crystal structure and forms only in temperatures under 200 degrees.
Orientitie was first recorded in Cuba in the Oriente Province (now Santiago de Cuba) in Cuba.
These beautiful reddish to chocolate brown crystals are transparent to translucent.
These crystals are formed in volcanic rocks like andesite tuff and basalt.
This mineral has also been found around Manganese Lake in Michigan.
Basalt is formed when lava cools when extruded.
Basalt is gray to black and very fine grained and hard. The stones may be layered with Jurassic-Cretaceous sandstone, limestone or other oceanic sedimentary rocks.
The interesting thing about the geology of Cuba is that those layers have been subject to some major fault events so those layers are folded and shifted in ways that expose rocks that are not often seen in this area of the world.
The basalt deposits in western Cuba show these interesting compositions.
Andesite is also formed by the cooling of lava from volcanic or tectonic action.
The lighter gray fine grained stone can be found all over the island, but can be difficult to distinguish from basalt. Generally andesite is lighter in color than basalt.
The largest deposit of andesite is found in the Mabujina Meta-Arc Complex where the stone has not been subjected to heat or pressure that would change the andesite.
Limestone is a relatively sock and usually light colored stone that forms when ocean sediments cement together.
These limestone formations are very rich in calcium and bubble under an acid test.
Limestone in Cuba is from the Jurrassic era and you can find them in Cayo Coco and Los Remedios in western Cuba.
The Vinales National Park has very stunning examples of limestone mountains.
Limestone is interesting to geologists as it often contains fossilized remains of ocean life that can give insight into the time when the limestone was formed.
When looking at limestone samples pay careful attention to any holes or areas of discoloration as this may indicate that the limestone contains a fossil.
You may also find embedded olivene in volcanic rocks like basalt and andesite.
Olivene is a bright green to yellow gem that often forms in volcanic rock at the time of extrusion.
Olivene can be found in large and small crystals in basalt or andesite. The large crystals can be seen with the naked eye, but microscopic examination often reveals many smaller deposits in volcanic rocks.
The deep red crystals of garnet are a great find when rock collecting.
Garnet is a semi-precious stone that can be found in water basins or river beds and sometimes with rock breaking.
You can spot the stone as it is very dark in its raw form.
The volcanic rocks in central Cuba have metamorphosed into greenschist.
Greenschist is a green tinted fine grained rock that is formed under relatively low pressure. Like other schist type rocks it has a tendency to break into layers.
The green color of this schist rock comes from the presence of chlorite, epidote or actinolite in the rock. All greenschist will contain some of these minerals.
In Cuba greenschist can be found in Mabujina Meta-Arc Complex which is located in central Cuba.
Diving in Cuba
The island nation of Cuba is a great place to dive and snorkel.
Cuba is home to the second largest coral reef formation and is a very protected area only allowing 300 dives a year. This allows very close encounters with the wildlife and very exclusive views of the geology of the ocean around Cuba.
The large drop offs or Grand Canyon make for stunning views of the powerful movement that has formed the island.
Rock Collecting in Cuba
Cuba was closed to tourists and scientists for many years and the economy and tourism industry there is very different from other islands in the Lesser Antilles.
There are several National Parks in Cuba where you can see the unspoiled beauty of the island. The origins of the island make it a very interesting place to see unique rock formations.
Some of the most visited Cuban National Parks include:
Zapada National Park
Vinales National Park
Guanahacabibes National Park
Topas de Collantes National Park
Jardines de Reina National Park
Be sure to obey any posted rules and local laws about collecting and removing sand shells or stones from a National Park.
If you are interested in the geological formations and fault areas in Cuba you should visit the large geological features.
There are two important geological structures in Cuba that have distinct features and minerals that can be found there:
Esperanzine Zone: In the western part of the country this area contains the Jurassic limestone that has been subject to three major faulting events. These events can be found in Cayo Coco and Los Remedios.
Sierra Del Rosario Zone: This area contains more of the rocks of volcanic origin that have been subject to faulting events or collisions that have changed the shape of these formations.
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