PengHu’s Beautiful Volcanic Landscape

While most tourists understandably visit PengHu for the sun, sand, and surf, the geological landscape of the islands offers an intriguing natural history that’s also worth exploring.

By Stuart Hill

It might sound like a less obvious travel theme, but a “geology tour” of PengHu offers a lot to learn about the development of PengHu’s natural landscape.

In fact, many of the PengHu islands’  advertised attractions have something to do with stone, coral and shells. You could therefore plan your own island hopping adventure based around these three resources alone.

Penghu FongGui Cave

Pummeled by the constant force of sea and wind, the FongGui Cave on the main island of Penghu is famous for the “sucking” sound it makes.

On the island of XiYu (CiYu) or PengHu’s “west island”, the SiaoMen Geological Museum offers an overview of the key geological highlights that you’ll find throughout the islands. They have brochures in English to help explain how PengHu’s geological structures were formed and where they are located.

PengHu Whale Arch

This sea arch called the Whale Arch, located on XiaoMen Island (Siaomenyu) near the Geology Museum, has resulted from centuries of wind and sea erosion eating away at the softer rock.

The earliest parts of the island trace back to massive volcanic activity that pushed lava to the surface roughly 17 million years ago. Since then, the islands have been subject to a range of geologic pressures, including folding and faults. Wind, rain, sun and the sea have all had an impact on eroding the volcanic rock and its surrounding sedimentary layers.

Here are some examples of what you can find:

Vertical Columnar Joints

PengHu Vertical Joints

The vertical curtain of basalt in this photo, found near the EKan Village on PenghHu’s West Island, has formed a kind of upright honeycomb structure of cooled lava.

Inclined Columnar Joints

PengHu basalt

The basalt “joints” are cooled lava that has formed into columns. This spectacular “explosion” effect is found on the island of QiMei.

In addition to PengHu’s famous sand and coral beaches, the various coastlines around many of PengHu’s islands reveal fascinating geological formations.

PengHu Little Taiwan

Dubbed “Little Taiwan” for its rough resemblance to the map of the Taiwan mainland, this sea plateau is one of the many geological phenomena on the island of QiMei.

Humans have also had their impact on the geological environment, not just more recently with the mining of basalt and other stone for the building of roads and port facilities, but in years past, with the use of stone and coral for creating walls that protect crops from the areas strong winds.

PengHu Famers Fence

With the bulk of construction materials limited to what locals could find on their islands, walls like these made out of basalt blocks are designed to protect against the fierce island winds.

Many of the older houses also provide evidence of how coral and stone were used to build PengHu’s famous house structures.

PengHu Stone House

This tenderly restored house in the historical EKan Village has used coral, stone and grinding wheels for its exteriors. The owner is slowly renovating another section of his house (not in the photo) but hasn’t found the materials of the right shape and size.

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