Windmills and building stones: Antigua, West Indies

In his latest book, Ted Nield (2014) reflects on building stones and what they tell the geologist about where they are. Once upon a time, building stones in Britain were derived locally and told the informed observer something of the local geology (apart from, of course, the exotic stones imported for banks and office blocks). That is, they were built of local stone from the local quarry. Today, stone is imported from as far afield as China, where once they would have been derived locally by horse and cart or canal boat.

figure-1Fig. 1. Outline map of Antigua (redrawn and modified after Weiss, 1994, fig. 3), showing the principal geological subdivisions and the city of Saint John’s. Key: * = Betty’s Hope. Inset map shows the position of Antigua in the Caribbean. Key (clockwise from Jamaica): J = Jamaica; C = Cuba; H = Hispaniola (that is, Haiti+Dominican Republic); PR = Puerto Rico; A = Antigua (arrowed); LA = Lesser Antilles; T = Trinidad; V = Venezuela; Co = Colombia.

One place where local stone is still used is Antigua in the Lesser Antilles. For example, Jackson and Donovan (2013) described an attractive, green chloritized tuff, which is used throughout the island as a bright and distinctive building stone. Many old structures in rural areas are still constructed of stone, such as walls, buildings (including ruins) and, the subject of this article, disused windmills.

For a general introduction to the geology of Antigua, see Weiss (1994) or Donovan et al. (2014). All major stratigraphic units are Upper Oligocene; the regional dip is to the northeast.


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