January 21, 2013

Monday Geology Picture(s): Coral Boulders on the Beach in Barbados

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Coral boulders on the beach in Barbados, June 2009.

Back in June 2009 I visited the lovely tropical island of Barbados for a week for a paleoclimate field trip as part of one of my graduate school courses. I never blogged about this trip (I only started Georneys in late 2010), so I thought that I would share some pictures from this Barbados trip over the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy!

From the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution website, here is an explanation of why Barbados is such an important and interesting location for the study of paleoclimate:

The study tour this year [2009] will to the Caribbean island of Barbados, a classic field area for Quaternary sea level study. Barbados is an actively rising island at the crest of the Barbados Ridge, an accretionary prism of the Lesser Antilles forearc. Strongly folded Eocene sedimentary rocks are capped by a sequence of Quaternary coral terraces that grew during sea level changes over the last 700,000 years or so.

A large fraction of what is known today about the rates and magnitudes of Quaternary sea level change comes from studies of the uplifted reef tracts of Barbados and cores recovered from the drowned deglacial coral reefs offshore. The first strong support for the Milankovitch theory of climate change came from the dating of the Last Interglacial terrace; locally know as First High Cliff. This date was key to establishing a timescale for the oxygen isotope record that remains our primary way of establising a stratigraphy and a timescale for all ocean cores.

This week, I am sharing some pictures of some coral boulders along a Barbadian beach. I also shared some pictures of a similar coral boulder from the same beach back in 2011. Eroded by waves, the coral boulders weather into some fantastical, beautiful shapes.

Another view of coral boulders on the beach in Barbados, June 2009.

A closer view of one of the coral boulders on the beach in Barbados, June 2009.