Overview

    The Natural Resources Department within the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship conducts geological, geotechnical and geohazard surveys across the island and provides technical advice to the general public and other government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Department; Town and Country Development Planning Office and the Coastal Zone Management Unit.
     
    The Department also monitors and regulates the exploration, extraction and production of the island’s natural resources, which include the industrial deposits of sand, limestone, shale and clay. These locally sourced aggregates are utilised in the construction and building sector, and for roads, golf course development and pottery.
     
     

    Activities

    Geological Mapping
     
    The Natural Resources Department conducts geological mapping and field traverses with a view to updating its geological maps and databases.
     
    Geotechnical, Geophysical and Geohazard Investigations
     
    The Department also conducts geological geotechnical and geophysical investigations in an effort to evaluate subsurface voids, caves, fissures, sinkholes and areas prone to karstification and land slippage. These investigations seek to assess and mitigate hazards posed to buildings, houses, roads and other critical infrastructure.
     
    Monitoring and Assessment of Quarries
     
    The Department is tasked with the assessment and quantification of Barbados’ reserves of sand, limestone, shale and clay; as well as the monitoring and regulation of onshore quarrying activities.

    Sand

    Limestone

    Shale

    Clay

    Technical Assistance
     
    The Department provides technical advice and support to other Government agencies in relation to quarrying, land development, Environmental Impact Assessments, geotechnical surveying, geological hazards and mapping. These services are also extended to private entities and the general public in cases where such intervention is required in the interest of public safety.

    Explore Further

    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.

    Quarry Legislation