The island of Curacao contains some of the most amazing stones in the Caribbean.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the geology of Curacao.
Types of Rocks on Curacao
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.
The most exciting find for most rock collectors on Curacao will be a calcite crystal.
These formations can be large and impressive.
Pillow lava, limestone and whitlockite are also present in Curacao.
There are several important geological formations on Curacao that support rare plants and form rare minerals.
Curacao is part of the Lesser Antilles Island Arc and it was slowly pushed to the surface while marine life and coral grew on top of the growing volcanic mass.
The slow growth allowed layers of volcanic and marine rocks to grow together to form the island.
Calcite is a component in limestone, which is plentiful on the island of Curacao.
Calcite is clear and forms mostly in caves and areas where fresh water seeps slowly through limestone.
The crystals form a sunburst shape that resembles a blooming flower.
Limestone is formed by the process of lification where calcium is mixed with fresh rain water and filters into the coral.
This process allows the calcium to reform into crystals called calcite.
Calcite can be found on Curacao’s Table Mountain.
You may also see calcite formations on the caves on Curacao.
The most popular cave to visit on the island is Hato Caves on the northern coast.
Hato caves are limestone caves and as the fresh rainwater flows through the porous limestone it forms calcite deposits.
This is the most commonly collected mineral from Curacao.
Some of the rock that makes up the large lava formation on Curacao and those were formed by the slow melting of the crust by the molten rock below.
This formed Picrite Basalt layers in the stone.
Picrite Basalt layers are bright yellow and they form a layer about 1 kilometer thick.
This is a striking site as it occurs with dorite sills which are dark gray and fine grained.
These visible layers make up a part of the Curacao Lava Formation.
The majority of the formation is pillow lava with basalt intrusions.
The Curacao Lava Formation covers two large areas in the northern section of Curacao around Salina St. Michaelsberg and Picaderabbi.
When lava is released from the Earth under the pressure of deep water it causes the lava to form a bubble.
The bubble hardens and you get lava formations filled with trapped air.
These pillow lava stones are generally round and less than a meter across.
The pillow lava formations are generally formed of basalt meaning they are formed from high viscosity lava.
Pillow lava can be difficult to identify when in the whole shape.
The formation of pillow lava results in a very hard outer shell and bubbles under the surface.
A stone that has been broken off of the large collection of pillow lava may have the pattern of a hard shell and fluffy interior.
Limestone is plentiful on many of the islands in the archipelago.
Limestone can vary in color from very light white, gray, yellow or brown.
The limestone in Curacao is generally lighter in color and may form small stones or very large boulders.
Limestone formation happens in the warm water that surrounds the island.
The marine life that thrives in the warm clear water creates calcium rich shells that compress and cement together to form limestone.
Limestone often contains fossils of the shells and marine life that form limestone.
Limestone can be examined under a special microscope that can reveal more about the composition of the rock.
Fossiliferous limestone is limestone that contains many many fossils and may appear to have several large holes or irregularities where the fossils are embedded in the stone.
Whitlockite is a relatively rare mineral that is very lustrous.
It can be clear, white, pink, or gray white.
The gray coloration is the most common found on Curacao.
It may be found more commonly in caves as a result of the slightly acidic rainwater.
The action over time dissolves some of the calcium from the limestone and it can recrystallize into other formations.
The stone has been described as brittle and has no distinguishable cleavage.
It commonly forms rhombohedral crystals and, while uncommon it can form tubal crystals as well.
The Knip formation is an important geological formation on the island; it is made up of calcium rich sands and silica rich chert.
These silica rich smooth light gray stones are from the deep water and have been pushed up to the surface of the island.
You may find embedded fossils in these stones.
Limestone is mostly calcium from marine life, but in the deepest sea water the calcium dissolves and the remains of plankton in the form of silica
The chert formed by the marine sediment can be found on St. Christoffelberg, 386 meters high, the highest point on the island.
The unique soil conditions on the Knip formation support a very rare orchid that only grows here, the Polystachya Folisola.
Collecting Rocks on Curacao
Collecting shells and stones on Curacao should be done with the permission of local authorities.
Most National Parks prohibit the collection of rocks, shells, fossils.
Curacao has several National Parks:
- Shete Boka Park
- Christoffel Park
- Salt Lake Willibrordus
Obey any posted signs and local laws and assume you cannot collect any specimens no matter how small unless you have permission.
Keep in mind that we are trying to preserve the natural beauty and wonder of nature.
It may be easier to get permission from a private landowner if you would like to collect rocks or fossils.
You may find very interesting rocks and fossils for sale to tourists or at mining sites.
Be sure to declare anything that you are carrying through customs.
Curacao is an interesting geological volcanic island that was slowly pushed up from the sea floor.
The mix of volcanic and marine stones give the island a variety of stones and fossils.
Visiting the caves and National Parks in Curacao will surely add to your collection.
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