Caribbean Volcanism draft #2

This topic submitted by Chelsea Nagy ( at 5:55 PM on 6/5/03.

A view of our boat at Gaulin Reef in the Bahamas

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

Volcanism in the Caribbean

Caribbean volcanism is a focused look at the broader topics of the geology and ecology of this region. The Caribbean plate is currently being subducted under the Atlantic plate and critical changes are occurring along this boundary. Although the Caribbean is not incredibly active today, in comparison to other sites globally, it is still important to understand that this region has had drastic eruptions in the past and has the potential to reactivate in the future. The changes in land structure and composition of this region are important for ecological purposes to study interactions among organisms and their environment. These interactions include both advantages such as increased soil fertility and disadvantages such as habitat destruction. With advancing technology, volcanoes in the Caribbean and other regions will be able to be monitored and perhaps eruptions predicted in order to limit some of the negative effects these structures cause.

In my presentation, I plan to teach the class some of the basics of volcanoes including where and how they occur and the effects that they cause on both the physical and ecological environment. I will then go in to detail about volcanoes occurring specifically on the Caribbean plate. This will include some of the major historical eruptions as well as some of the important sites to watch in the future. The topic of volcanoes is important because they have such a great impact on human and all organisms’ life. Volcanoes are a phenomenon that both enhance and destroy life.

I. Global Volcano Introduction
A. Basic Mechanisms
1. Layers of the earth
a. crust
b. mantle
c. core
2. Plate Tectonics
3. Caused, created how?
a. hot spots
b. subduction, divergence
B. Monitoring
1. seismicity
2. biological indicators
3. physical indicators
C. Physical Effects
1. pyroclastics
2. lahars
3. nuee ardentes
4. gases
D. Ecological Effects
1. soil fertility
2. habitat destruction

II. Caribbean Volcanism
A. Caribbean Plate
1. relation to other plates
a. Atlantic- subduction
B. Caribbean Volcanoes
1. relative activity- only 33 eruptions since 1690
2. seventeen in area
a. Lesser Antilles
-big eruptions in history
-1902 Mont Pelee
-La Soufriere (first)
b. “Kick’ em Jenny”
3. Lesser Antilles characteristics
a. pyroclastics, mudflows, ash fall, nuee ardentes
b. slow moving flows- viscosity
c. pile into domes
d. domes collapse→ pyroclastic flows


Bourseiller, Philippe and Durieux Jacques. Volcanoes. New York: Harry N. Abrams,
Inc., 2002.

Decker, Barbara and Robert Decker. Volcanoes. New York: W.H. Freeman & Company,

Erickson, Jon. Quakes, eruptions, and other geological cataclysms. New York, NY: Facts
On File, 1994.

Johnson, Carl. Fire on the mountain. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1994.

McClelland, Lindsay, Tom Simkin, Marjorie Summers, Elizabeth Nielsen, and Thomas
Stein. Global Volcanism 1975-1985. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

McQuire, Bill and Christopher Kilburn. Volcanoes of the world. San Diego, California:
Thunder Bay Press, 1997.

Montgomery, Carla W. Environmental Geology. Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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