The geological structure of the British Virgin Islands correlates them indisputably with the Greater and not with the Lesser Antilles. The latter are composed essentially of Tertiary volcanic rocks of andesitic or basaltic type, with or without development of sedimentary strata which, when present, only dip at gentle angles and never show the violent effects of such dynamic forces as have been responsible for the folding and “up-ending” of the strata in the Virgin Islands. The tremendous depth of the channel separating the British Virgin Islands from the Lesser Antilles lias been ascribed to faulting, probably initiated in Pliocene times.
The work of Cleve (1), Hill (4), Vaughan (5), and others (6) in the American Virgin Islands, Porto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica, indicates that the British Virgin Islands form geologically only the eastern termination of that main group of islands and have been subjected to the same earth movements as them. The evidence for attributing a Cretaceous age to the sedimentary series has already been referred to.
With regard to the age of the folding and igneous intrusion, Vaughan considers that the folding took place between upper Eocene and middle Oligoccne times, and that the intrusion of the diorites took place at approximately the same date. (7)
Wythe Cooke considers that the igneous basal complex in the Dominican Republic certainly dates from Cretaceous time, but that part is probably older. He also considers that the stresses that folded and sheared these rocks were probably active during Eocene time or earlier, and that the intrusion of the great masses of dioritic rocks probably occurred before the deposition of the Eocene sediments.
According to Hill (4), however, “in mid-Tertiary times granitoid intrusions were pushed upward into the sediments of the Greater Antilles, the Caribbean, Costa Eican, and Panamic regions.” Frazer, on the other hand (8), considered the nuclear axis of Cuba and San Domingo, and possibly of all the Caribbean islands, to be Archaean, a view upheld also by Dr. W. Bergt. (9)
There is no doubt that the key to these problems lies in the larger islands of the Greater Antilles, for it is only there that unaltered fossiliferous sediments occur and can be studied in relation to the igneous intrusion and metamorphism. There appears, however, to the writer to be nothing either in the geological or faunal evidence necessarily indicating previous land connexion at any time between the Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles, ahd on this matter it is hoped to furnish further evidence at a later date.