Quill / Boven National Park

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Chapter 3. SITE DESCRIPTION

a - General features of the site

Terrestrial surface under sovereignty, excluding wetlands:

5 sq. km

Wetland surface:

0 ha

Marine surface:

0 sq. km

b - Physical features

Brief description of the main physical characteristics in the area:

The island of St. Eustatius lies at the north end of a continuous submarine bank, no deeper than 180m, that also contains the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. The Lesser Antilles are located on an area where the plates that make up the earths crust meet. This is known as a zone of subduction where the Atlantic Plate slowly slides under the Caribbean Plate. The island has an area of 21km2 and the landscape of the island is dominated by two volcanic areas. At the northern end the extinct volcanic hills rise to 289 m and were once a separate island surrounded by sea cliffs (Roobol & Smith, 2004). Two and a half kilometres to the southeast the relatively youthful Quill volcano, with an 800m diameter open crater, rises to 600m. A third volcanic structure is exposed at the White Wall-Sugar Loaf tilted limestone feature, which forms the southern shoreline of the Quill.

Geology:

Ranges from limestone to volcanic soils.

Soil:

White Wall/Sugar Loaf:  The vegetation on and near the White Wall and Sugar Loaf features of The Quill is characterised by the limestone soil.

Topography:

The older Boven sub-sector is more eroded than the mountainous Quill area and is made up from a series of rolling hills. The Venus Bay Valley, a plain which runs to the sea, lies between the Boven, Bergje and Gilboa Hills. The rolling plains and hills make the area’s natural beauty outstanding. Most of the slopes around the coast are very steep especially on the western side.

Very little development can be seen from Venus Bay Valley there giving the impression of a natural, undeveloped island. From the Boven hill, there is an exceptional view over a large part of the island with the Quill in the background. In clear weather Saba, St. Bartholomew and St. Maarten can be seen in the distance. Although the oil terminal is hidden from most of the island, behind the hills surrounding it, the tanks can be seen from most of the Boven sector of the National Park.

The whole south eastern part of the island is taken up by The Quill, unique in the area as a mountain because of its even, typical volcano form. The Quill is a perfect example of an ash-volcano. The last eruption of the Quill was prehistoric and occurred before settlement of the island by Salidoid Indians probably 1550 years before present (Roobol & Smith, 2004). The unique form took shape during the final acts of the last period of volcanic activity when there was no lava-flow, but molten rock was exploding out of the volcano by gasses under high pressure. The entire top, crater, slopes and the base of The Quill are covered with loose material. The largest blocks are lying on the edge and on the bottom of the crater. Lower on the slopes the material gets finer and The Kultuurvlakte is covered for the greater part by volcanic ashes, which make rich and fertile agricultural land. Six recently drilled water wells in the sides of the Quill have revealed heated groundwater, measuring up to 70 degrees Celsius, suggesting that the Quill is dormant.

Volcanic formations:

The island has an area of 21km2 and the landscape of the island is dominated by two volcanic areas. At the northern end the extinct volcanic hills rise to 289 m and were once a separate island surrounded by sea cliffs (Roobol & Smith, 2004).