Geology of Jamaica

The island of Jamaica is largely composed of limestone, heavily karstified in form of KarstTower Karst. More than 1,100 caves are known on Jamaica, 23 of them longer than 1,000 m and 11 deeper than 100 m.

Most caves are found in Cockpit Country in the southwest of Montego Bay. This area with a size of about 20km² is located in the parishes of Trelawny, St Elizabeth, and St James. The Dry River is a typical karst river, flowing for several kilometers underground. Between the karst towers the valleys are covered by rich deposits of red earth, the residuals of limestone solution. The high amount of bauxite is unfortunately of great interest for mining companies. The open cast mining of the bauxite would require massive development, destruction of the natural vegetation, and massive impacts on the caves. Since the year 2000 there are plans to make the area a World Heritage Site. However, at the moment [2006] the government is not willing to give the area the status of a no mining area.

Some of the caves of Jamaica hold the drawings and carvings of the original residents of the island, the Tainos. They have now vanished, and the drawings and deposits in the cave are of great archaeological interest.