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.
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.
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
Inclined Columnar Joints
In addition to PengHu’s famous sand and coral beaches, the various coastlines around many of PengHu’s islands reveal fascinating geological formations.
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.
Many of the older houses also provide evidence of how coral and stone were used to build PengHu’s famous house structures.