Trafalgar Falls, Dominica


     In the first week in April, 2019; Becky (my wife) and I went on a Caribbean Cruise for Spring Break.  On April 1st and 2nd, we visited Saint Martin, (Philipsburg); and Dominica, (Roseau) consecutively.

Becky playing around with a giant crane/winch at the St. Croix Port

     At Philipsburg, we and some friends, (the Stevens) rented a car and drove to the opposite side of Saint Martin.  We were looing for the island’s best beach.  After doing some research, we found that the best and most beautiful beach was a clothing optional beach.  We chose to go clothed, but it was an adventure to be surrounded by nude people. That was something that we United States Citizens aren’t familiar with.  But it was definitely a beautiful beach.  One of the most perfectly gorgeous beaches that Becky and I have ever seen.  Unfortunately, I can’t really share the experience on the website, because cameras or cellphones were not allowed, (pictured below).

Orient Beach Sign, (no photos allowed).

     This clothing-optional  Orient beach on French St. Martin’s ultra-luxurious south coast is part of Club Orient, a famous nude resort. The two-mile, white-powder-sand beach was protected from the Atlantic waves by a reef and the sea bottom has a gradual slope.

Map of Dominica and it’s volcanic deposits, public domain image

     Our next shore-leave was on the Island of Dominica.  The Caribbean island of Dominica is a paradise for all waterfall enthusiasts.  The island has mountains over 1,200 m tall and receives up to 1,000 cm of rain each year.  There are many waterfalls, (new ones in remote regions are being discovered every year).  Many of Dominica’s waterfalls are in the Morne Trois Pitons national park.  Trafalgar Falls, 8 km from our port in Roseau, is the most famous and accessible waterfall.

“The Mother” Trafalgar Falls on Dominica 2019

     The viewing platform looked over two separate cascades, (the taller “Father” and shorter “Mother”.

“The Father” Trafalgar Falls on Dominica 2019

     A more challenging, (4 km away), hike through dense rainforest was required to reach the breathtaking Middleham Falls, (pictured below), the highest waterfall in Dominica. [Note: Waterfalls are usually formed in rocky areas due to erosion.  They form when there is a hard layer of rock covering a soft layer of rock.  Water flows over hard rock.  When it reaches the soft rock, the water starts to erode or wear away the soft rock.  Over thousands of years, the soft rock is eroded and the river begins to cut down vertically into the rock.  this makes a cliff over which the water can topple.  Over time, the cliff becomes steeper and deeper and a waterfall is formed.  At the bottom of the waterfall a plunge pool is created. Some of the water splashes onto the cliff and makes a large, hollow plunge pool by a process called undercutting.] 

Middleham Falls in Dominica

     The geologic setting of the Trafalgar and Middleham falls are the result of depositional processes and tectonic forces caused by volcanoes, landslides, seismic movements and river that have produced the bedrock geology of Dominica. In geological terms, Dominica is a young island.  The surrounding cliffs were formed during the period of volcanic eruptions when the heated ash or pyroclastic flow spread out around the volcanic domes to form layers of ash and rock welded together with heat.  Known as welded tuffs, these layers are hundreds of feet thick.  Over a period of thousands of years, streams and rivulets eroded deep ravines into the compact ash and debris.  Cutting out cliffs over-which the waterfalls cascade.   

Image taken from a sign at the Trafalgar Falls viewing platform

     The rocks found in Trafalgar and Middleham consists mainly of pyroclastic and ash flow deposits resulting from explosive eruptions or from the collapse of a lava dome (volcano).  These deposits consist of very “young rocks” andesite/dacite (lavas),  tuffs and ash formed in the Quaternary period (very recent: 1-2 million years).  There are three pools which are being fed with hot mineralized water from the base of the “Father fall”.  The red-orange color of the water is caused by iron compounds found in the clay in the area.  These pools are considered to be therapeutic since the water contains dissolved solids and high mineral content which are derived from the rock.

I’m posing at the bottom of Middleham Falls in Dominica 2019 near the plunge pool.
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