September 8, 2014
The Young Volcanic Landscape of Mauritius
Posted by Evelyn Mervine
For the next little while, I will be blogging about my recent (March 2014) vacation to Mauritius, a young volcanic island in the Indian Ocean. I recently shared a couple of pictures of volcanic basalt in Mauritius for my “Monday Geology Picture” posts here and here. In future posts, I’ll write a little more about the volcanic history of Mauritius. In brief, Mauritius is believed to have been formed by a mantle hotspot that is now located underneath the volcanically active island of Réunion. Geologically speaking, the island of Mauritius is very young. The oldest lavas on Mauritius are approximately 8 million years old; the youngest are approximately 200,000 years old (see this publication for more on Mauritian lavas over time). There has not been very much time for the volcanic rocks of the island to erode– that is, there has not been very much time for them to be worn down and smoothed by various physical, chemical, and biological weathering processes. Thus, the landscape of Mauritius is dominated by steep, rugged hills and mountains comprised predominantly of young, dark-colored lava rocks. However, the rocks are certainly eroding. Mauritius has a wet, humid climate and is covered in vegetation, so chemical and biological weathering are breaking down the rocks at a fairly fast rate. On the tops of some of the mountains, boulders and rock slabs are perched precariously and will one day, not all that far in the future, come crashing down into the valleys during dramatic displays of physical weathering.
Below are some more pictures of the young volcanic landscape of Mauritius. Enjoy!
Stay tuned for more posts on the geology of Mauritius!
Thanks for sharing the photos. I’d say there certainly has been a lot of erosion there compared to the constructional forms we see on Reunion. Some colleagues and I recently wrote a paper synthesizing all of the information on volcanic ocean island landform and hydrologic evolution, so while I’ve spent hours reading and thinking about places including Mauritius, it’s fun to “see” what it actually looks like.
Thanks, Anne! I’m glad that you enjoyed the pictures. Would you mind giving me the reference for your paper? Sounds quite interesting!