Geologic Youth of Galápagos Islands Confirmed by Marine Stratigraphy and Paleontology

Science  29 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4694, pp. 1578-1580
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4694.1578


Six distinctive types of fossiliferous marine deposits occur on the Galádpagos Islands that provide evidence for the age of emergence of the islands above sea level and hence a maximum age for the islands' terrestrial biota. These subtidal to supratidal deposits include (i) volcanic tuffs with fossils, (ii) limestones and sandstones interbedded with basalt, (iii) terrace deposits, (iv) beach rock, (v) supratidal talus deposits, and (vi) recently uplifted tidal and subtidal rocks and sand. With the exception of (vi), the deposits were previously assigned ages varying from Miocene to Pleistocene, but all are less than about 2 million years old. This age, together with independently determined geologic ages, indicate that the islands emerged from the sea relatively recently and that all evolution of the islands' unique terrestrial biota occurred within the past 3 to 4 million years.