Bermuda Geological History

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Bermuda and The Mid Atlantic Ridge

It might have only be discovered in the early years of the 17th century, but Bermuda arose from the Mid Atlantic Ridge about 100 million years ago!

The Island is in fact a volcanic sea mountain that was formed on the fault line where the Atlantic tectonic plates move. It was the movement of these plates that pushed the European and American continents away from each other. Bermuda was moved west of the ridge by the process of plate tectonics and the spreading of the sea floor.

The volcano was dormant before erupting again for the last time 30 million years ago. This is thought to have been caused by a hot spot in the Earth’s crust above which the volcano was floating  – but there are no worries of it ever happening again!  The two mouths of the volcano – also called calderas – are located under water at Hamilton Harbour and Castle Harbor.

The cap of the underwater volcano that forms the ground of the Bermuda Islands is made of limestone. This limestone was created by the living organisms that populate the sea: when fish eat the algae and coral reefs, they also ingest some of the calcium carbonate skeletons. This calcium carbonate is then released out by fish as sand, itself pushed onto the volcano surface by the water. The sand reacts with the rain and the carbon dioxide it passed through to form limestone.

Bermuda Limestone

Bermuda limestone that sits on top of the volcanic rock

You will surely have heard or read that the sand on Bermuda’s beaches is pink. This isn’t a legend or a tourist attraction, just a simple natural and geologic process: tiny sea organisms that have a pink shell that are mixed with the sand formed by the reef breakers and crushed by the waves.

As well as the an explanation for the pink sand, there is red soil called terra rossa that can be found in Bermuda. There are two explanations for its origin. Some scientists believe that it comes from atmospheric dust carried from the Sahara desert in summer and also from the Great Plains of North America in winter. Other evidence in the form of an adundance of phosphate, leads others to think that bird guano (or excrement), which is part of the phosphorus cycle, is a more plausible explanation.

According to www.starsandseas.com:

When plants and animals die, bacteria decomposes their bodies, releasing some of the phosphorus back into the soil. Once in the soil, phosphorous can be moved 100s to 1,000s of miles from were they were released by riding through streams and rivers. So the water cycle plays a key role of moving phosphorus from ecosystem to ecosystem.

 

In some cases, phosphorous will travel to a lake, and settle on the bottom. There, it may turn into sedimentary rocks, limestone, to be released millions of years later. So sedimentary rocks acts like a back, conserving much of the phosphorus for future eons.

The same acidic rain that helps turn sand into limestone is responsible for another geological phenomenon in Bermuda, the presence of many amazing caves. In some places, the rain would go through the limestone and out to sea, creating long tunnels. In some of these tunnels, the ceiling would collapse in places and form caves. They make great places to explore for scuba-divers who come from everywhere in the world for them.

If you’re here to explore this geological gem, why not do it by scooter, moped or bike from Elbow Beach Cycles?

Booking a scooter with us could not be simpler. All you have to do is just let us know by booking online with our easy to use booking form, including the date and time of arrival, and our scooter delivery team will have your scooter ready and waiting for you when you arrive on the Island. We’ll also even pick it up again when you are finished with it! Our scooter rental service is ideal for all visitors wanting to explore Bermuda – whether you are looking to book a rental for a few days or a week.

Check availability today and book your scooter now – take advantage of our pre-pay 15% discount if you book your bike, scooter or moped now!