Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc and Subduction Zone (Caribbean)

Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc and Subduction Zone (Caribbean)

Tue, 09/29/2020 - 14:38

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 itself is a long arc of islands in the Caribbean Sea, extending in a north-south direction and more or less coincide with the outer cliff of the Caribbean Plate.

Geologically, the Lesser Antilles island arc stretches from Anguilla in the north to Grenada in the south.

The Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc includes nineteen volcanoes (5 active and 1 potentially active):

 

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat (NASA, International Space Station)
Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat (NASA, International Space Station)

 

Lesser Antilles Subduction Zone

Subduction is a geological process that takes place at convergent boundaries of tectonic plates where one plate moves under another and is forced to sink due to high gravitational potential energy into the mantle. Regions where this process occurs are known as subduction zones.

 

Diagram of the geological process of subduction
Diagram of the geological process of subduction

 

The subduction of the Atlantic Plate crust under the Caribbean Plate, known as the Lesser Antilles subduction zone, is a convergent plate boundary on the seafloor.

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.

Though the rate of subduction is low, the process is ongoing and is responsible for the creation of many of the islands themselves as well as the ongoing volcanic and earthquake activity in the region.

Lesser Antilles location map
Lesser Antilles location map