Caribbean Netherlands

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (the so-called ‘BES islands’) are three special municipalities, which together are referred to as the Caribbean Netherlands. GDN is conducting research into the geology and minerals of the islands to improve the provision of information of the Caribbean Netherlands. Aruba, Curaçao, and Saint Martin, the three other islands of the Dutch Antilles, are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands facing similar challenges and opportunities.

Geological risks on active volcanic islands

GDN is investigating geological risks on the Windward Islands, to which Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Saint Martin belong. For about 36 million years, they have formed an arc of active volcanic islands. Tectonic plates have been sliding against and under each other here (subduction), a process that is still accompanied by volcanism and earthquakes. We also look at the risks of storms; Hurricane Irma, for example, caused major damage in Saint Martin in 2017. Slopes on that island are steep, which caused landslides. Moreover, Saint Martin is low and at greater risk of flooding should sea levels rise.

Limestone and salt on Bonaire

The Leeward Islands (including ‘ABC islands’, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) are part of an inactive volcanic island arc that was formed during a much older subduction process than the Windward Islands. Bonaire’s oldest deposits consist of various types of volcanic rocks from the Cretaceous. Reef limestone covers a large part of the island. Bonaire is also known for the production of salt from salt lakes. Lagoons closed off from the sea, these salt lakes are surrounded by dykes of raised coral rubble. The export of salt annually brings in 3.5 million US dollars.

Making knowledge available

GDN’s activities are essential to ensure a safe and sustainable living environment and opportunities for sustainable growth for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands. We are currently in the process of expanding our activities in the Caribbean Netherlands in terms of geological information. We make our knowledge, expertise, and tools more internationally available, for both the special municipalities and the autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Want to know more?

Do you have any questions about our research on the geology and minerals of the Caribbean Netherlands? Contact Michiel van der Meulen via the blue ‘mail directly’ button below.