Madeira Island’s GEOdiversity

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Madeira ... an oceanic island that has evolved over six million years and with a current landscape that has been stamped by two enormous forces: volcanoes and erosion. Thanks to these forces the islands’ landscape is nowadays marked by a wide variety of unique geological elements that have great touristic potential.

As you might already know Madeira archipelago is formed by the islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas (Deserta Grande, Ilhéu Chão and Bugio) and Selvagens (Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena). Of these islands, only Madeira and Porto Santo are inhabited, whereas Selvagem Grande and Deserta Grande, of which both are part of natural reserves, are only inhabited by a permanent contingent of nature guards.

Madeira Island represents the emerged part of a huge volcanic shield, of Miocenic to Holocenic age, built over a Cretaceous oceanic crust. Its building is the result of submarine volcanic activity, and, later, by the stacking of sub-aerial eruptions generated mostly by fissure activity.

Porto Santo Island, is characterized by a complex structure that results from its submarine, transitional and sub-aerial building phases. It has developed as a submarine shield volcano during the Lower Miocene, about 18 million years ago.

Rich in geodiversity and biodiversity, these sites are of high value for the development of activities related to nature tourism.

For more information visit the Geodiversity Autonomous Region of Madeira website

Encumeada, Madeira - Photo Don Amaro

Ribeira da Janela, Madeira - Photo Don Amaro

Ribeira da Janela, Madeira - Photo Don Amaro

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