USVI Volcanoes  

 

FormerOhioGuy
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October 26, 2004 10:09 pm  

Are there any extinct volcanoes on St. Thomas or St. John? I am aware of only one on St. Croix.


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Dominic
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October 26, 2004 11:37 pm  

Where is this extinct volcano on St. Croix? Just curious


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Tedd Wallace
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October 27, 2004 4:10 am  

Since I bought a couple lots on STX this summer, I am curious about volcano history too. The landscape does not strike me as lava formed. Tedd


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FormerOhioGuy
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October 27, 2004 10:26 am  

This strikes me as one of those unusual places on St. Croix that hardly anyone has heard of. I can’t find anything about it on the Internet, only from one reliable printed source:

Shirley Imsand and Richard Philibosian, Exploring St. Croix: A Guide & Memento for Visitors & Residents (Travelers Information Press, Pasadena: 1987). This is sort of our version of St. John: Off the Beaten Path. Philibosian is reputed to be a font of information about St. Croix.

I met a middle-aged woman at the base of the volcano who grew up on St. Croix, and she had never heard of it. My guess is that hundreds of people drive by it every day and don’t know about it.

I should be cautious and add that the authors describe it as a “probable” volcano (p. 107). At the top is something that looks remarkably like a crater with pinkish volcanic rock. I don’t think there are any serious doubts that it is, in fact, a volcano.

It’s called Michael Hill and it’s on the north coast just west of Salt River Bay. Granted, it is small (a cinder cone), but you can hike up to the top and look into the shallow crater. Its eroded base has formed the estate and undulating sea cliffs locally known as Baron Bluff. This is the kind of desolate, grassy area where the road goes in and out several times very sharply from the sea. It’s unlike any place else on St. Croix, which implies that it was formed differently. At the top of the 388-foot peak, the crater is perhaps 10 feet deep and oblong at 15 feet wide and 30 feet long. Some rocks are visible inside, but it’s mostly overgrown with brush.

The view is very open and good, considering it isn’t very high. You can see the northern USVI and BVI to the north, the forested cliffs of the northwest coast to the west, about a square mile of undeveloped savannah and forest in a beautiful valley to the south (apparently a former cattle ranch, as there is a small man-made pond), and Buck Island and part of the Salt River Bay to the East.

The dirt access road is a little more than a mile west of Salt River Bay on the North Shore Road. It’s very obvious, gradually ascending southward on the east side of Michael Hill. You need to park and walk about five minutes northward on the path to reach the top. There’s a metal chain across the path, but no No Trespassing sign. Horses from the Cane Bay stables sometimes take riders up there, so watch your step if you go, or take a horse.

If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can continue driving up the road southward almost a mile to the ruins of Estate Clairmont. There’s a rum factory, cistern, animal mill, other buildings, and small resort.

Also on the north shore beach are some fantastic, little-seen coral formations, tidal pools, and blow holes. They are hidden from the road by a quarter-mile row of houses and condos about a half mile before you get to Cane Bay heading west. You can access them on either side of the development. One tidal pool is perhaps 12x12 feet and very deep.

Here is something upsetting. Someone has built their back porch right up to the tidal pool and has put concrete steps down into it. They have marred it in an effort to turn it into their own private pool. This is obviously illegal, as all beaches in the USVI are public. Moreover, to continue walking on the beach, you have to trespass and walk across their back porch. Locals, go and see for yourself. It is pretty brazen.

To end on a positive note, just before the Carambola Beach Resort, an area along the beach is being developed in Estate Prosperity. A lot of brush has recently been removed, and you can get a good, close-up look at the greathouse, rum factory, windmill, and other buildings when workers are not in the area.

There’s a lot more on the North Coast of St. Croix than just The Wall.


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Celeste
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October 27, 2004 1:10 pm  

Hi!

I read somewhere that Lind Point in STJ used to be a volcano. How long ago, I couldn't tell you. If you go to the top, though, there is no volcano mouth. It just looks like a regular mountain. This is the only thing in the VI that I can think of that could qualify as a volcano.

-Celeste


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jenny
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October 27, 2004 3:27 pm  

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
History & Culture
Geography
These hilly islands were formed by volcanoes over a period of 25 million years. They are all peaks of submerged mountains, most of them extinct volcanoes, rising from a submarine plateau

I searched the net for a good 30 minutes and this was all i could come up with besides a volcano in the Grenada.....and it's name KICK-'em-Jenny. isn't that great.


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Dominic
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October 27, 2004 10:47 pm  

That's really interesting. So was St. Croix formed partially by volcanic eruptions, and by that other theory? I think the theory was that dead coral and stuff were deposited on top of each other over millions of years to form St. Croix. How could we explain the formation of St. Croix?


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Jay
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October 27, 2004 11:12 pm  

If the following doesn't make your head hurt nothing will.
[...]

Recent advances in understanding the tectonic and paleoenvironmental history of the Caribbean region allow formulation of biogeographic and evolution/speciation models within an improved physical context. Support is developing for a new ‘maximist’ model of geological history suggesting that the Greater Antilles originated as a submerged volcanic island arc in the present Isthmian region during the Early Cretaceous [Valanginian; 130 m.y. (million years ago)] and moved more than 1000 km to their present location. Geologic investigations are not always concerned with whether an arc is submerged or emergent, but the proto-Greater Antillean arc began colliding with the Bahamas Platform in the Paleocene/earliest Eocene (56 m.y.), and the principal period of emergence allowing terrestrial flora and fauna to colonize was in the middle Eocene (49 m.y.). Early emergence was during the later phases of the hothouse interval of the Late Cretaceous through the early Eocene, which was followed by an intermediate period when climates fluctuated between non-glacial and (marginally) glacial conditions (middle Eocene through the early Miocene), and culminated in the icehouse interval of the late Tertiary and Quaternary Periods. The recent geological/paleoenvironmental models still constitute, however, a broad spectrum of possibilities for biogeographic-evolutionary-speciation events within which specialists must formulate the most probable pathway(s) for individual taxa.

[...]


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Patrick
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October 28, 2004 12:36 am  

I think I need some Tylenol.


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FormerOhioGuy
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October 28, 2004 10:54 am  

Jenny,

As far as I know, what you say is true, but I believe you are talking about underwater volcanic activity, such as the underwater volcano Kick-‘em-Jenny that you mention. As I understand it, since St. Croix was uplifted from the sea, the only above-ground volcano has been Michael Hill.

In addition to Kick-’Em-Jenny, there are above-ground volcanoes on several islands in the Lesser Antilles that are dormant or recently active. Mt. Pelee on Martinique erupted violently in 1902, and Soufriere Hills on Montserrat began rumbling in 1995 and erupted several times in 1997.

Dominic,

When you mention “dead coral,” perhaps you are thinking more of The Bahamas (although this may have played a role in the formation of St. Croix). A map shows that the Lesser Antilles are for the most part a partially submerged extension of the Andes Mountains of South America, so this goes back to what Jenny said.

People often speak of the Caribbean as being composed of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, but geographically, there are four distinct regions, each formed in its own way. I don’t know the specifics, but there is a lot of information out there.


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FormerOhioGuy
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October 28, 2004 10:59 am  

Sorry, in the above, I should have said "geologically," not "geographically."


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jenny
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October 28, 2004 1:41 pm  

All very interesting!!!!!


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Dominic
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October 28, 2004 8:46 pm  

In school, I've always learned that St. Croix was the only island in the Virgin Islands (along with Anegada) that was formed in a different way than the other USVIs and BVIs. Although some of St. Croix is volcanic, I was always under the impression that the major reason behind St. Croix's existence was something involving sediment (possibly coral or something) being deposited over millions of years. Any clarification on this? I am currently taking a Geology course at Brown University in Rhode Island and find this stuff very interesting.


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FormerOhioGuy
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October 28, 2004 10:34 pm  

St. Croix is on a different tectonic plate than the northern USVI, so it stands to reason that it was formed differently. I have also read that St. Croix is largely sedimentary rock.

It’s interesting that you should bring up Anegada. It shares two characteristics with St. Croix. It appears to be physically separate from the rest of the BVI, as St. Croix is separate from the northern USVI. Also, Anegada and St. Croix have the same kind of coastline: smooth, with few indentations. Compare that to the northern USVI and the rest of the BVI. They look like jigsaw puzzle pieces.

The geology or geophysics department at Brown should have an expert on Caribbean geology. Maybe you could meet the person and report back. (And ask about the cinder cone!)


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melro52
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August 5, 2019 11:02 am  

St. Croix has NO volcanoes.  Unlike St. John and St. Thomas, St. Croix is formed by a coral reef.  That's why it's a little flatter than the others.  St. Croix is a pile of seashells and coral.  

 


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vicanuck
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August 5, 2019 2:36 pm  

@melro52

And you choose to reply to a 15 year old post because?


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Loppiks
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August 7, 2019 7:59 am  

Where is this extinct volcano on St. Croix? Just curious


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singlefin
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August 7, 2019 5:07 pm  

I read the formation of St. Croix was the result of two subterranean plates pushing upon one another. One plate folded over the other as the sea floor rose. The mountainous north shore was the impact zone, the more level south shore was where the top plate folded over the other. It’s geography is different than STT & STJ as a result. I would guess there was some volcanic activity here, but more on the islands north and east of us, which have more eradic shorelines and are mostly far more hilly.


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jaldeborgh
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August 7, 2019 5:37 pm  

I’ve also heard that STX was formed differently than the other USVI’s.  The “wall” off the north shore of STX drops roughly 13,000 feet, this supports the idea that there were enormous geological forces at work in the past.  Also, walking along the beaches on the south side of point Udal you can see the sedimentary layers pushed up at various angles in the shear faces of the cliffs.  The theory of tectonic activity makes perfect sense to me for STX.


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Alana33
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Islander
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August 30, 2019 9:58 am  

In the book "Island Peak to Coral Reef A Field Guide to the Plant and Marine Communities of the VI" it mentions that in the 1950s a professor and his graduate students did geological research in the VI. One of the students, John Whetten, focused on St. Croix.

Did a search for John Whetten online and found his field guide.

It says: "a popular misconception in tourist lore is that St. Croix was formerly a volcano".

You can read the rest of the paper entitled "Field Guide to the Geology of St. Croix" by John Whetten at https://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/AA/00/01/41/98/00001/Geol_STX_pt._1.pdf.  


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vmiiwks
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September 9, 2019 9:27 am  

Since I bought a couple lots on STX this summer, I am curious about volcano history too. The landscape does not strike me as lava formed. Tedd


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singlefin
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October 9, 2019 5:57 pm  

Using FormerOhioGuys directions, my wife and I located the volcano crater on the north shore of STX today... or at least we’re pretty sure we did.

I Needed to cut-in the 4x4 on the pickup to get up the initial dirt road off North Shore rd. (Look for boat bumper tied to telephone pole). We passed the trail to the crater initially, eventually making it all the way up, past the well manicured ruins, to the newly paved scenic road. We turned around and headed back down the same dirt road, when I saw what looked like, a seldom used, overgrown with tall grass, Jeep trail. We pull over and hiked up from there. There’s an old barb wired fence running parallel to the Jeep trail. A few yards in was the chain mentioned by FormerOhioGuy, but it was down, laying across the trail on the ground. At the very top of the peak there was a crater. It was completely overgrown with shrubs, trees, lots of big-ass spider webs. Not a great place to scrounge around in. After finding myself surrounded by spiders at the bottom of the crater, I can’t say why this question arose in my mind, but I couldn’t remember if the volcano was referred to as extinct or merely dormant. The crater itself was a bit of a letdown, but views along the trail were great.

On the hike back down, we’re pretty sure we heard velociraptors (the pack hunting, killer dinosaurs from Jurassic Park) in the tall grass beside the trail. However, we were lucky enough to escape unscathed 😉

Cocktail hour is always more enjoyable after a little adventure! 


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