Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc and Subduction Zone (Caribbean)
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 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:
Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Sint Eustasius: 1 each
Most of the islands of the region host a single live volcano that may erupt in the future. However, other islands are more complex, with multiple potentially active volcanoes. A few of the most active live volcanoes are as follows:
Kick 'em Jenny: submarine volcano about 10 km (6 mi) north of Grenada
Antilles / Grenada Basin map
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
The subduction of the North American 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.
Earthquakes and Volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean