Monday, November 8, 2010

The Stone Forests of Madagascar

Madagascar's "Stone Forest"
Most of us have seen pictures of the limestone pinnacles and stone forests of China, but the mysterious island of Madagascar is home to some fantastic karst formations that rival those in China.  These formations are located in the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve.  The National Park is  UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This is an area of karst plateaus (carbonate rock like limestone, dolomite etc.).  The carbonate bedrock is soluble and the landscape is shaped by dissolution of the rock when water moves over it and cuts through it creating fissures and caverns.  The erosion in Tsingy occurs in vertical as well as horizontal patterns causing the dramatic stone forests.  

Water later seeps into karst caves where it then can flow underground in "underground streams".  The water can carve out caves by dissolution and fill in other caves by precipitating minerals that are in the water (i.e. can form those cool looking needles and pillars in caves called stalactites and stalagmites).  Sinkholes are also common in a karst lanscape and form when the ground above the cave collapses into it.  In short, Karst is extremely complex.

LEMURS! Just hangin' out on the stone

The strange and fantastic geology of the area also gives rise to a glorious collection of plants, animals and other forms of life.  In many instances most of these species are only found within the stone forest. 

Included below are links to a National Geographic article and photo gallery of Madagascar's Stone Forest.
Living on a Razor's Edge: Madagascar's labyrinth of stone (National Geographic Article)
Living on a Razor's Edge Photo Gallery (National Geographic Photos)


  1. I agree, those are some cute little lemurs.

    The formations look amazing...I'd love to see those in person.

  2. Those karst features look fantastic. I'm a big fan of carbonates and the formation of karst. My final works and thesis dealt with carbonates. Have you actually been there to see these karst towers personally? That would be a fantastic experience! BTW, just noticed you on my follers list. Thx.

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