The Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc forms the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Plate. This subduction process formed a number of volcanic islands, from the Virgin Islands in the north to the islands off the coast of Venezuela in the south.
Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc
The Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc forms the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Plate. The Lesser Antilles is a long arc of islands in the Caribbean Sea, extending north-south and more or less coinciding with the outer cliff of the Caribbean Plate.
Geologically, the Lesser Antilles island arc is a curved chain of volcanic islands along the eastern margin of the Caribbean Sea that stretches ~850 km (~500 mi) from Grenada in the south to Sombrero (north of Anguilla) in the north. North of Dominica, the island arc splits into two and only the western arc of islands is active.
There are 19 active volcanoes in the Caribbean region, according to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Centre. They are spread across 11 volcanically active islands:
Dominica: one volcano
Grenada: three volcanoes
Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Sint Eustasius: one volcano each
Most of the region's islands host a single live volcano that may erupt in the future. However, other islands are more complex, with multiple potentially active volcanoes. Some of the most active live volcanoes include:
Kick 'em Jenny: a submarine volcano about 10 km (6 mi) north of Grenada
Map depicting the Antilles / Grenada Basin
Lesser Antilles Subduction Zone
Subduction is a geological process at convergent boundaries of tectonic plates where one plate moves under another. It is forced to sink into the mantle due to high gravitational potential energy. Regions where this process occurs are known as subduction zones.
Diagram of the geological process of subduction
This subduction process formed many volcanic islands, from the Virgin Islands in the north to the islands off the coast of Venezuela in the south.
Though the rate of subduction is low, the process is ongoing. It is responsible for creating many islands and the region's ongoing volcanic and earthquake activity.
Earthquakes and Volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean