Geology of Barbados
The island of Barbados measures 166 square miles in area and is located approximately 160 kilometers east of the Lesser Antilles island arc.
The island of Barbados is the only aerially exposed section (i.e. above sea level) of one of the world’s largest accretionary prisms, the Barbados Accretionary Prism (BAP). The BAP was formed as a result of the off-scraping and accretion of Cretaceous to Tertiary-aged deep-water sediments, which became wedged between the convergent boundary of the relatively eastward moving Caribbean Plate and westward moving, subducting South American Plate.
Accretion within the prism led to the formation of a series of complex thrusted and folded structures which are exposed in the north-east of the island. Further tectonic activity led to the shallowing of these deep-water sediments which became covered with a series of coralline limestone terraces during the Pleistocene age.
Attempts to understand the geology of Barbados date as far back as the mid–late 1800’s, with geological assessments conducted by Schomburk in 1848 and Harrison and Jukes-Browne in 1890, followed by other notable studies by geologists Senn (1940), Baadsgaard (1959), Saunders (1965), Pudsey (1981), Poole & Barker (1981) and Speed and Torrini (1989).
With the exception of some volcanic ash bands, the rock succession in Barbados is entirely sedimentary in origin. Donovan et al. (2005) states that 85% of the island is covered by a Pleistocene coral reef limestone cap, while the remaining 15% is an inlier of Tertiary sedimentary rocks of marine origin, which crop out in a triangular region in northeast Barbados called the Scotland District.