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Visiting Scientists to Present Theories on Origin of Bonaire

All are invited to a special presentation on Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 6:00 PM by Dr. Richard Spikings and Roelant van der Lelij, from the Department of Mineralogy, University of Geneva.  The presentation will be held in the conference room at Captain Don’s Habitat and will cover their theories regarding plate tectonics and how they are related to the origin of Bonaire.

Recently, Dr. Spikings and Mr. van der Lelij have traveled to both Aruba and Bonaire to collect rock samples as part of an earth sciences research project entitled “Thermochronology of the South Caribbean Plate Boundary Zone: Dutch Antilles and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Martha Colombia.” Dr. Spikings will explain about his research and his theories that our islands were not created on this spot, but actually more in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands.  (Source:  Stinapa Release)

Revised September 25, 2006: Dr. Spikings and his colleague provided interesting and thought-provoking theories as to how the island of Bonaire originated.  After 8 years of field studies, much of which was spent in Ecuador and Colombia, and more recently, Bonaire and Aruba, Dr. Spikings has presented the following theorum which spans 100 millions years ago to a mere 9 million years ago.

He believes that the island of Bonaire may be the last remaining remnant of the proto-Great Arc of the Antilles within the southern Caribbean realm, which began forming prior to 100 million years ago in the expanding gap between South and North America, before the Central American land bridge joined those continental plates.  This volcanic arc (volcanic island chain) formed when the Farallon Plate (in the Pacific) moved under, or subducted beneath the Atlantic ocean (the North American Plate).  This gave rise to volcanic activity on the ocean floor, in the area which would now be located north of Colombia, and the beginnings of Bonaire were formed.

Approximately 90 million years ago, a widespread volcanic event focused on the area occupied by the present-day Galapagos islands gave rise to the oldest rocks on Aruba and Curacao, and this area was located just west of the proto-Great Arc of the Caribbean, but was drifting eastward towards it.  Over millions of years, the volcanic rocks of Curacao and Aruba migrated eastwards towards the almost stationary volcanic chain, which partly comprised Bonaire, and they eventually collided together approximately 85 million years ago.  The rocks of the Netherlands Antilles were now joined together, and collectively migrated eastwards, where they were forced into the growing gap between the North and South American plates. This moving mass of rock, which included the Netherlands Antilles, collectively formed the Caribbean Plate, which still exists today. As the Caribbean Plate migrated eastwards, the southern portion of it collided and scraped against the northern part of the South American Plate, detatching rocks of the Netherlands Antilles from the remainder of the Caribbean Plate. Consequently, the rocks of the Netherlands Antilles reside in a distinct faulted unit of rock, referred to as the “Bonaire Block”, which is trapped between the Caribbean and South American Plates. The research group of Dr. Richard Spikings is currently investigating the tectonic history of the Bonaire Block, which may permit predictions to be made as to where the block will migrate to in the future.

Posted by Susan Davis on September 12, 2006 at 9:50pm AST
  1. after reading the article, I can appreciate the geology of Bonaire and Curcaco I have looked at from time to time over the last 28 years. I don’t claim to understand Dr. Spikings theory, but it seems interesting. Thanks for the story.

    Posted by on February 12, 2007 at 11:07am AST
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