The Volcanic History and Activity of Mauritius Island: A Comprehensive Overview

Category: About Mauritius

Mauritius Island's Volcanic Past and Present

Introduction

Mauritius, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, is known for its beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. The island has a rich volcanic history that has shaped its landscape over millions of years. This report aims to provide an overview of the volcanic history and activity of Mauritius Island.

Geographical Context

Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, which also include Réunion Island and Rodrigues Island. The island is situated approximately 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of Africa and has an area of about 2,040 square kilometres. The island was formed as a result of volcanic activity, which began around 8-10 million years ago and continued until relatively recently in geological terms, around 200,000 years ago.

Formation and Volcanic History

Mauritius Island is a product of the Reunion hotspot, an area of volcanic activity associated with a mantle plume beneath Earth's crust. As the African Plate moved over the hotspot, a series of volcanic eruptions occurred, leading to the formation of the Mascarene Islands. The volcanic activity on Mauritius occurred in two main phases:

First Phase

The first phase of volcanic activity began around 8-10 million years ago, resulting in the formation of the island's oldest rocks. During this period, extensive lava flows, pyroclastic deposits, and intrusive rocks were formed. This phase is characterised by the formation of shield volcanoes and extensive erosion.

Second Phase

The second phase of volcanic activity started around 5 million years ago and continued until approximately 200,000 years ago. This phase saw the formation of numerous basaltic lava flows, which are now exposed on the surface of the island. This period also witnessed the formation of volcanic cones and crater lakes, some of which are still present today.

Notable Volcanic Features

Mauritius Island is home to several notable volcanic features, which include:

Trou aux Cerfs

Located near the town of Curepipe, Trou aux Cerfs is a dormant volcanic crater measuring approximately 350 metres in diameter and 100 metres deep. This well-preserved crater, which is believed to have been active around 2 million years ago, is now covered with lush vegetation and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Le Pouce

Le Pouce, meaning "The Thumb" in French, is the third highest peak on Mauritius Island, standing at 812 metres above sea level. This volcanic peak is part of the Moka Range and offers a stunning view of the island's capital, Port Louis.

Grand Bassin

Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao, is a crater lake located in the Savanne District. The lake, which is considered sacred by the local Hindu community, is a popular pilgrimage site during the annual Maha Shivaratri festival.

Current Volcanic Activity

Mauritius is currently considered to be volcanically inactive, with the last known eruption occurring around 200,000 years ago. However, the island is still subject to occasional seismic activity, which is closely monitored by local and international experts.

Conclusion

Mauritius Island has a rich and fascinating volcanic history that has shaped its unique landscape over millions of years. While the island is currently considered to be volcanically inactive, its volcanic features continue to attract tourists and researchers alike. The understanding of Mauritius' volcanic history not only provides insight into the geological processes that formed the island but also contributes to the global understanding of volcanic activity and hotspot dynamics.

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2023-03-20 05:06:42

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