The Caribbean Islands Are Tapping Their Geothermal Potential

Lynn Manijean (Université des Antilles), Pascal Saffache (Université des Antilles)

Abstract

The Caribbean region is made up of 38 islands, eleven of which, Saba, St Eustatius, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada, are volcanic islands. They were formed from the interaction between two tectonic plates, the North American plate sinks beneath the Caribbean plate in a process called subduction. As a result, these islands have geothermal potential. Surface manifestations include fumaroles, hot springs, mud pots, solfataras and steam vents. Globally, the Caribbean region enjoys a tropical climate and has only two seasons, the dry and wet seasons. It is important to point out that hurricane season runs from June to the end of November. During these months the islands are more vulnerable to cyclonic phenomenon, which may sometimes be devastating. Other natural hazards can affect the islands, such as the earthquakes that struck Haiti in 2010, volcanic eruptions on the island of Montserrat in 1995 and tsunami threats. Thus, we can conclude that the Caribbean region is not immune to natural disasters. However, another phenomenon has been affecting the islands for a number of years, resulting in sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, heavy precipitations, hurricanes that are more devastating and many others; this climatic event is known as global warming.

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